Aoife O’Shea, HSE senior speech and language therapist, coordinator of Happy Talk, currently redeployed to Pairc Uí Chaoimh
If I’m working in Pairc Uí Chaoimh testing centre (PUC) I have a big breakfast and wear multiple layers. It’s chilly down there in the PUC tunnel.
Work in the Testing Centre starts with a morning meeting. Our supervisors in PUC, Ann Marie Healy and Susan Lehane, are Titans, coordinating a service and a team that didn’t exist two months ago. They keep the show on the road, but more importantly, they keep our spirits up and keep us smiling.
When not in PUC I’m at Happy Talk – HSE where I think of the other Titans in my life; children, parents and educators, our Happy Talkers! To say we are missing them is an understatement. Nibbles (the Happy Talk rabbit) lives in The Glen, near the Big Silver Train, and though she sometimes sees Happy Talkers out walking, it’s not the same.
A Happy Talk morning starts by getting online, checking emails and the Happy Talk Facebook page. This is how we are connecting with Happy Talkers right now.
Everyone who comes for testing to PUC is a little nervous, and who can blame them. We look like aliens in all that PPE and they are driving in to let us swab them - twice. But I hear my colleagues in PUC talk to people like they are heroes or long-lost cousins. 'Thanks for coming to see us, John'; 'Well done Mary, you were so brave'; 'Bridget, I wish you every good health'. These are colleagues I would never have had an opportunity to work with, let alone meet, in ordinary times. They are conscientious, resourceful and hilariously funny. Laughter is our saving grace these days.
In Happy Talk, we have partnered with a hard-working bunch of students from the speech and language therapy department in UCC. They have been helping us develop the Happy Talk Language Packs which are emailed every week to over a thousand people and posted on Facebook for all to share. The Happy Talk Language Packs explore a weekly theme and provide language, literacy and learning activities and games.
You can find the Language Packs at our Facebook Page ‘Happy Talk’ or email
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.hse.ie/happytalk for more information.