Job Shadow – Waterloo Wellington Aphasia Program

Guest Blog: Chief Strategy Officer  – Toni Lemon 


One of the most inspiring opportunities we have at the LHIN is getting out and seeing the benefits of the work underway to improve local health care through the eyes of the patient. It is really a privilege to meet with front-line staff to see first-hand what they do and to be able to personally share in the experiences of residents.

This summer, I joined Antonella, a speech language pathologist (SLP), and Jenny, a communications disorders assistant (CDA), at one of the Waterloo Wellington Aphasia Program sessions. Aphasia is a disorder that affects language and communication. It is caused by damage to the brain, most usually from stroke. Some people with aphasia have difficulty with speaking, listening, hearing and/or writing. The group offers a place where residents with aphasia can develop their communication skills with the help of people like Antonella and Jenny.

Patient Centred Care from Providers and Residents

I was immediately struck by the feeling of camaraderie and support in the room. The participants and staff have created a safe space to talk about struggles, practice new skills, and support one another. When a member struggled in telling their story, they were met with patience and sometimes encouraged with strategies to help. Successes and milestones were celebrated and everyone had patience, empathy and an eagerness to learn from one another.

Stroke care in Waterloo Wellington has been changing through integration and collaboration. Providers across the system are working together to ensure that all residents are able to access high-quality stroke care and rehabilitation – no matter where they had their stroke. Patients are going home healthier and with better ability sooner. This work is why Waterloo Wellington was identified by the Ontario Stroke Network as a provincial leader in stroke care.

The Aphasia Program in particular supports people after they leave the hospital. Communication is so vital to the human experience and life participation. Programs like these can bring back quality of life and limit isolation.

Thank you to Antonella and Jenny from the Waterloo Wellington Aphasia Program for sharing your passion and work with me. Thank you also to the group members for sharing your experiences, challenges and resilience with me. You are an inspiration.


For more information on the Waterloo Wellington Aphasia Program click here.