Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists

The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) is the professional body for speech and language therapists (SLT), SLT students and support workers working in the UK. We have over 15,000 members. We promote excellence in practice and influence health, education, employment, social care and justice policies.

Updated:
10 February 2016
Location:
National
Sectors:
Health, Membership Organisations, Care

1. Action Plan

1. The National Dementia Declaration lists seven outcomes that the DAA are seeking to achieve for people with dementia and their carers. How would you describe your organisation’s role in delivering better outcomes for people with dementia and their carers?

  • There is strong evidence that speech and language therapists help relatives and carers communicate with their relatives for longer, improving quality of life by giving individually tailored practical support in specially modified communication techniques
  •  Speech and language therapists can provide direct intervention with dementia patients to provide specific strategies for improving communication outcomes, as well as working to improve the broader communication environment within the home or care environment
  •  There is an important role for speech and language therapists in ensuring that any problems the patient has with communication are taken into account by other clinicians during the interpretation of cognitive assessments and any wider clinical process
  • Speech and language therapists play a unique role in the management of dysphagia (problems swallowing) for those with dementia, and therefore in helping to minimise unplanned admissions to primary care and reducing the length of stays in primary care
  • The correct specialist advice and management of dysphagia increases the independence of patients, helps maintain eating and drinking skills and reduces the risk of malnutrition
  • In addition, the correct specialist advice can reduce the pressure on primary caregivers by providing specific management strategies for people having difficulty eating and drinking

 

2. What are the challenges to delivering these outcomes from the perspective of your organisation?

Speech and language therapists work in a variety of setting supporting those with dementia, including specialist memory services, older people’s later life community mental health teams, acute hospital wards, care homes, community services, learning disability services, and forensic services.

 Dementia patients and their carers have a range of needs around communication and safe eating and drinking which should be met by those with the appropriate clinical expertise or those who have been trained by those with that expertise.

  •  A key challenge for speech and language therapists supporting those with dementia and their carers is to protect the quality of the services provided, and to ensure that dementia patients have access to speech and language therapists as appropriate throughout their journey.
  • Another key challenge is making sure that other clinicians, members of the multidisciplinary team, home care workers and care home staff are aware of the role and importance of improving communication outcomes for dementia patients and their carers.

Member website

www.rcslt.org

2. Actions

  • Raise awareness of the communication and eating, drinking and swallowing needs of people with dementia, their families and carers

    The RCSLT, through its Giving Voice for People With Dementia campaign, is working with representatives of clinical groups, care providers, commissioners and others to raise awareness of the communication needs of dementia patients and carers.

    In addition to this campaigning work, we will publish a Dementia Position Paper for those developing and commissioning services which offers best practise guidelines. 

    Status:
    Delivery

    2015 - Second Quarter Update

    The Giving Voice for People With Dementia campaign is now in its second year. 

    The RCSLT published a fact sheet for commissioners, decision makers and service planners on the needs of people with dementia.

    The RCSLT  Dementia Position Paper has been disseminated to our members to use in developing an evidence based service to meet the needs of people with dementia. 

    2014 - Fourth Quarter Update

    In 2014 the RCSLT published a Dementia Position Paper for those developing and commissioning services which offers best practise guidelines:

    - around meeting the communication needs of dementia patients and carers

    - around meeting the swallowing, eating and drinking needs of dementia patients and carers.

  • Support increased understanding of dementia for speech and language therapists

    Supporting increased understanding of dementia and development of skills in dementia care for speech and language therapists.

    Status:
    Delivery

    2015 - Second Quarter Update

    The RCSLT is developing a series of videos to showcase the speech and language therapy needs of people with dementia. 

    The RCSLT published a fact sheet for commissioners, decision makers and service planners on the needs of people with dementia.

    2015 - First Quarter Update

    The RCSLT held a dementia webinar on communication and swallowing & how speech & language therapists can help people with dementia.

    The RCSLT held a joint dementia webinar with DAA.

    2014 - Fourth Quarter Update

    The RCSLT published the dementia position paper to highlight the role of the SLT and the added value of it.