Speech and Language Therapy Support Workers work with Speech and Language Therapists to help clients overcome speech, language and swallowing problems. They work directly with a range of client groups, such as:
- people with physical disabilities, learning difficulties or mental health problems
- people recovering from illness or a medical condition such as a stroke or brain injury
- the elderly
In NHSScotland, Speech and Language Therapy Support Workers may also be known as Speech and Language Therapy Assistants. They work in hospitals, schools and community clinics. Sometimes they visit patients at home.
I'm Vicki, I'm a Speech and Language Therapy Support Worker at Glasgow Royal Infirmary.
A lot of people assume that speech therapy is all about somebody speaking, but there's so much more to it. Quite often, people can't speak after they've had a stroke, so we have to then think of what else can we do for this person, to get their voice over.
My role is trying to encourage the person not to just say "ok... forget it", because their voice still needs to be heard and they should still have a voice, regardless if it doesn't come out their mouth, they still deserve to be able to say "I need to go to the toilet".
Being involved with the families is a key point. They know that person better than anybody else. So, it's really good if you can get to meet the families and get to know them and they know your face. It's crucial, I think.
There's lots of different ways [we can help people to communicate]. We call it a total communication. That can be just chatting to the person, it could be making a picture list or a word list for that person, or it could be iPad work. A word could just be simple things, like feelings, basic needs like toilet, food, drink. If somebody is going to a unit that nobody knows them, it's important to know they don't like coffee and prefer tea.
You've got to be able to want to work with people. You've got to be able to listen to people. You've got to be quite patient as well, because you've got to give somebody the opportunity to finish what they've said before you jump in with something else. You've got to love to chat to people and I think you've got to be able to have that confidence to go up and start a conversation with somebody that you've never met before.
It's amazing to see from where that person was to the person that is going home. It's amazing it's the best feeling ever to think I played a very small part in that person being able to say goodbye to people.