Career Shift for a Cause – Tina Kad’s Story

Hey I am Tina Kad, the founder of Speech Therapy Interactive, a specialist speech and language therapist offering assessment, differential diagnosis and therapy (in English, Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu). I work with adults with  different types of communication and swallowing difficulties, as a result of an acquired or progressive neurological condition e.g. stroke, brain injury and dementia (in East London and Essex).

My story of a major shift from aspiring to becoming a psychologist or author to now working as a Speech Therapist is close to my heart. I originally wanted to be a psychologist so I completed my BSC in Psychology and MSc in Health Psychology. My dissertation exploring the perception of stress, cultural migration, and family dynamics amongst South Asians (first and second generation) living in England was published into a book called ‘The Best of Both worlds”

However, everything changed for me when my father had a Stroke. As a result of this he had difficulties with his vision, mobility, slurred speech, cognitive difficulties impacting his communication. Most importantly impacting his everyday activities of daily living. It was quite an emotional journey for both my father and myself. My father being my best friend (knowing each others likes/dislikes/wishes and having conversations about life and the future) as well as being his eldest child I subconsciously took on the responsibility of being his advocate communicating his wishes, likes/dislikes etc. Also, my family would rely on me to liaise with the multidisciplinary team, at times act as an interpreter relaying information to my mother and extended family members where English was not their first language.

During the process I realized that how a stroke does not just impact a person but their families too. I realised the importance of communication which is our basic human right. Losing control of your communication, not being able to formulate your thoughts into utterances clearly is such a painful thing. You know what you want to say but can’t say it or you say something but that’s not what you actually mean or you are talking but appear unintelligible to others. That is when I decided to change my career pathway gaining my postgraduate degree in speech and language therapy (SLT), and then worked for 10 years for the NHS. I wanted to use my experience to help support others as through my experience I could resonate with the emotions, feelings of these stroke survivors and their families. I wanted them to know that they are not alone and help stroke survivors reclaim their lives after stroke, reducing the feeling of isolation, fighting for their basic human rights to communicate. I worked in a variety of settings working at the  National Centre for young people with learning disabilities, hospitals and neuro-rehabilitation settings. My study on human psychology was also of great help at that point.

In 2018 I was nominated Allied Health Professional of the year at BHRUT Hospital. In the same year, I performed a presentation at the UK Stroke Forum focusing on improving stroke care across the stroke pathway.

In lockdown I became a first time mum to my son. Working  in a fast paced hospital setting where working long hours (was not an option anymore) became less rewarding. In 2020 I set up my independent practice, allowing me creativity in my profession and a choice of providing quality client centered care.

In my own practise Speech therapy Interactive I provide assessment and therapy not just in English but also in Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu in the hope that I can provide an equitable service to all, South Asians being the second largest population, where 95% of the SLT’s are Caucasian and only 5% from the ethnic minority background.

My celebrated moments include; ASLTIP (Association of Speech and Language Therapist in Independent Practise) best start up award in 2022, Interview on the UK Health Radio sharing knowledge and advice on how neurological condition can affect physical & mental health and Feature on the Positive Bright Minds podcast & on ‘Your Saheli’ chat show (Sikh channel on SKY)

And all while holding a baby!

For me, SLT isn’t about words but about actions, choices, confidence and independence I pass on to my clients every single day. I love working for my own practice in the community where I find myself in people’s lives, homes, feeling grateful and privileged that people trust and allow me to be a part of their journey.  I enjoy working hard, advocating for my clients so they can have access to their basic human rights of communication and eating. Speech Therapy Interactive helps people have a meaningful life after stroke/brain injury, showing people how valuable they are to this world.

Now I wake up every morning with determination and go to bed with satisfaction.

Tina Kad

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