Speech & language therapy

Our Speech and Language Therapy team work as part of the multi-disciplinary team (MDT) with both children and adults. Our aim is to support each person’s speech, language and communication needs, looking at understanding and using communication. We value and promote all types of interaction aiming to encourage an environment throughout the Hesley Group which reduces barriers to communication. We call this an inclusive communication approach.

SALT imageThis approach can include using alternative types of communication such as:

•    Makaton Signing
•    Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)
•    Photographs and symbols
•    Objects of reference
•    High-tech approaches such as iPads

Helping people develop their social skills can also increase and promote independence as well as helping to build relationships with staff, peers and family members. For example, supporting someone to help them understand an upcoming life event might include using a social story, visual schedule, choice boards and a visual timetable of the day. This means that the person has information that helps them to be involved in making choices about the event and understand what is going to happen. 

Our clinical pathway means that everyone has access to a universal level of SLT support from day one. When someone moves to the Hesley Group they will have a thorough assessment of their communication in the first 6 months. This assessment helps us decide how we will offer communication support throughout their time here. Following assessment, we write Communication Guidelines. These ensure that the individual’s understanding, expression and social interaction skills are described for those working with them and can be well met. Within the universal level of support the SLT also attends regular MDT meetings and Annual Reviews to monitor each individual’s progress.

If someone needs more direct support, we will put a therapy plan in place. This could include group, individual sessions or both. Sometimes therapy may be given directly by the SLT or we may ask one of our Therapy Assistants to carry out the therapy under supervision. We also understand the value of indirect support. This can include investing time in training a staff group on how to best meet the needs of the person they are supporting, or we may need to provide a visual resource which staff members can use to engage with the individual.

Our role can also include involvement in Mental Capacity Assessments with the MDT. Our aim is to help assess the person’s ability to process, retain and weigh up information to understand the implications of making a decision. This often takes a lot of creativity as we help support an individual to make decisions about their care as best as they can. Making accessible information suited to their level of understanding is essential in this to help them make decisions for themselves where possible. 

Another aspect of our role is ensuring that everyone has safe and enjoyable mealtimes. Each person who lives here will have an assessment to see if they have any difficulties with eating and drinking (dysphagia) within 3-6 months of admission, unless we have been made aware of risks prior to admission. All our SLTs have basic skills in supporting and assessing eating and drinking skills, with several members of the team qualified to carry out more formal assessment. If we find that someone needs additional support with their eating and drinking, we will put guidelines in place to help them have safe and enjoyable mealtimes and will give staff additional training if needed.

Meet the team:
Anna Backhouse - Consultant Speech & Language Therapist and Director of Therapeutic Services
Erica Craig - Head of Speech and Language Therapy
Emma Tester - Senior Speech and Language Therapist 
Claire Jepson - Senior Speech and Language Therapist 
Jenni Stone - Clinical Specialist Speech and Language Therapist
Portia McIntosh - Clinical Specialist Speech and Language Therapist
Michaela Steer - Senior Speech and Language Therapist
Eve Groarke - Senior Speech and Language Therapist
Natalie Foster - Therapy Assistant
Rebecca Myers - Therapy Assistant