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A Team Approach to Cleft Care

Updated: Oct 25, 2020

14.09.2018 | Luton and Dunstable University Hospital | Patient perspective talk

A study afternoon exploring a multi-disciplinary approach to cleft treatment. My talk focused on treatment challenges and how healthcare professionals can encourage and utilise patient-centred care to understand how psychology impacts surgical and clinical decisions.

This was the first time I’d given a talk about my cleft to medical professionals. The afternoon was tailored to accommodate everyone from cleft specialists interested in expanding their skill set and understanding to hospital staff and lay social workers who wanted to understand what it means to be born with a cleft lip and palate.

With talks from leading consultants, a psychologist and speech therapist, I closed the afternoon by exploring what it’s like to be born with a cleft and live through the challenges and procedures previously discussed by the cleft team.

My talk covered:

> a brief overview of my cleft treatment journey (from birth to present day).

> an exploration of how psychology can influence treatment decisions, namely my decision to have a septorhinoplasty (nasal reconstruction), and the maxillofacial osteotomy (jaw surgery) needed before this as well as reconstructive lip surgery.

> how important patient-doctor communication is, especially the need to listen to patients.

> practical methods any doctor can use with their patients to empower them, such as suggesting bringing a notebook with them to appointments to help them feel more in control, and to help express emotions and thoughts in overwhelmingly technical appointments.

> how to manage the jump in responsibility that happens for many cleft patients who decide to have surgery once they are eighteen, and how patients can be supported in making larger decisions.

> how life-changing surgery can be, and how surgery led to my advocacy for excellent patient-doctor communication, patient empowerment and cleft lip and palate awareness.

Other Speakers Included:

Mr Tariq Ahmad (Consultant Plastic Surgeon)

Mrs Louise Harris (Clinical Nurse Specialist)

Mrs Georgina Linford (Advanced Specialist SLT)

Dr Karine Edme (Clinical Psychologist)

Miss Nazan Adali (Consultant Orthodontist)

If you have an opportunity coming up that you think might benefit from a ‘patient perspective’ talk, please feel free to email me at


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