Belfast health worker presented with UK award

(From left to right):  Della Money, Chair of the RCSLT Board of Trustees, Kamini Gadhok MBE, Chief Executive of the RCSLT, Mary Heritage, Deputy Chair of the RCSLT Board of Trustees, HRH Countess of Wessex GCVO, Tony O’Hara, SEHSCT, and Nick Hewer, President of the RCSLT at The Giving Voice Awards on 25 September.

(From left to right): Della Money, Chair of the RCSLT Board of Trustees, Kamini Gadhok MBE, Chief Executive of the RCSLT, Mary Heritage, Deputy Chair of the RCSLT Board of Trustees, HRH Countess of Wessex GCVO, Tony O’Hara, SEHSCT, and Nick Hewer, President of the RCSLT at The Giving Voice Awards on 25 September.

The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) has presented Tony O’Hara, Head of Services for Patient Experience at South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust, with a national Giving Voice Award.

Tony was recognised for his work in supporting people with eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties – also known as dysphagia – and was presented with the award at the prestigious awards ceremony in Nottingham, where he met the charity’s patron Her Royal Highness the Countess of Wessex.

The annual Giving Voice Awards celebrate those who have campaigned to highlight how speech and language therapy transforms lives. They are presented to individuals and organisations that have made particularly valuable contributions to improving the lives of people with communication and/or swallowing needs.

The judges were impressed with the inspirational leadership Tony demonstrated in creating a multi-disciplinary project that improved mealtimes for people with dysphagia after people had expressed dissatisfaction with pre-prepared modified texture food and drinks brought into the Trust.

 

Tony and his team worked with speech and language therapists, catering managers and dieticians to develop a menu plan focussed on fresh, healthy, IDDSI compliant, and enjoyable food and drink for people with eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties.  The judges commended Tony for producing a tangible and sustainable model, which will impact greatly on the quality of people’s lives.

Head of the RCSLT Northern Ireland office, Ceara Gallagher said of Tony’s achievement:

“We are very proud of Tony receiving the National RCSLT Giving Voice Award. Tony is deserving of this Award as someone who goes above and beyond in his job and who is an advocate for people with eating and drinking difficulties. Eating and drinking normally is something that we all can take for granted even though it is one of life’s pleasures. Tony worked hard to ensure that the quality of the food and the overall experience of eating and drinking was significantly enhanced for those patients he worked with and for that reason he has made a huge impact on their quality of life.”

Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex GCVO DStJ attended The Giving Voice Awards, as Patron of The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, on 25 September 2019 at Council House, Nottingham.