Baukje is one of our Speech and Language Therapists and has been a key member of the Therapies team at Dame Hannahs since 2007. Originally from the Netherlands, she studied at Eindhoven University where she gained a degree in Speech and Language Therapy. She started at Dame Hannahs as a Speech and Language Assistant whilst her degree was converted into an English equivalent.
Baukje moved to England in 1993 to marry Peter who comes from Devon. When she first arrived, Baukje worked for the Learning Disability Service in Plymouth where she stayed for 10 years. In 2003 she joined the Learning Disability Parenting Team run by the NHS and Plymouth City Council. She was part of a multi-disciplinary team assessing and supporting parents with learning disabilities. Before joining Dame Hannahs Baukje had been aware of the organisation through her other jobs.
“It is such a lovely atmosphere at Dame Hannahs. I love working as part of a multi-disciplinary team and the adults and staff feel like family to me. My job is highly specialised and varied and I constantly have to adapt. Our caseloads consist of communication and Dysphagia (supporting people with eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties) work. My passion is working with people who are pre-verbal, using a variety of means to connect and engage with them. Approaches such as Intensive Interaction can be so powerful. Just watching someone like Sam lift his head, smile and vocalise is so rewarding to see. It helps to build trusting relationships and encourages fundamental communication skills.
Over the years, I have really enjoyed watching the young people from school grow up into adults. I have seen them mature and develop and I have built up relationships with them and their parents. I am also proud of our team, although now very small; we work well together and still manage to deliver a high quality service. We are always striving to create a Total Communication environment using speech, objects, photos, symbols, Makaton signing. I find it really fulfilling to help people express themselves, support their understanding and ensure they are actively involved in their lives. This gives them a voice, supports them to stay healthy and promotes emotional well-being and quality of life.
The Trust supports us to be flexible and creative in our assessment and management of the adults’ communication and dysphagia needs. It is important that the adults have opportunities to develop and maintain their communication skills in both one to one and group sessions. We run a variety of groups focusing on communication and swallowing. We also support the activities coordinator in running weekly sessions such as Chill and Chat on Monday and Together Tuesday, where communication is an essential part of the adults’ participation and connection with those supporting them."
Throughout Baukje’s time at Dame Hannahs, the Trust has supported Continued Professional Development. She gained a Post Graduate qualification in Dysphagia and she has trained to become a Makaton regional tutor. She continues to develop her skills in AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) as the relevant technology changes all the time. She has recently completed a course in Cervical Auscultation; this is an additional tool to help assess people’s swallowing skills.
Baukje lives in Brixton with her husband Pete who is CFO at the Westcountry Schools Trust. They have a daughter Amie and son Alec.