Speech and language therapy support worker

Speech and language therapy support workers assist speech and language therapists. They help care for people with speech and communication difficulties and help those with eating, drinking and swallowing problems.  

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.


Starting your career

Choosing subjects at school

To become a speech and language therapy support worker, you need a good standard of education. There are no entry requirements, but useful subjects include:

  • Science
  • English
  • Maths

Apprenticeships

An apprenticeship is a good way to start your career in healthcare.

Modern Apprenticeships

A Modern Apprenticeship in Healthcare Support (clinical) is appropriate for people interested in working in a healthcare support role.

Find out more about apprenticeships at apprenticeships.scot.

Work placement

If you’re at school or thinking of changing career, doing a work placement could help you when applying to college, university or for a job in healthcare. You’ll learn new skills, improve your knowledge and discover what it’s like to work in the health service. Find out how to apply for work experience with the NHS.

The role

You will work with speech and language therapists to help people of all ages to overcome speech, language, and swallowing problems. You’ll work to plan a series of therapy exercises as part of the client’s treatment plan.

As a speech and language therapy support worker, you’ll care for with people with a range of conditions including:

  • children
  • people with physical or learning disabilities
  • people with mental health problems
  • people recovering from illness or a medical condition
  • the elderly

What you’ll do

Your main tasks include:

  • assisting and reassuring patients
  • working with the speech and language therapist to plan a client’s therapy
  • working with clients on a one-to-one basis or in groups
  • preparing therapy rooms and equipment
  • supporting clients and develop communication skills
  • updating patient records and booking appointments

Top skills

You’ll need these skills:

  • caring for people
  • communication with people
  • listening
  • motivating people
  • problem-solving
  • relationship-building

Who you’ll work with

You could work with:

  • speech and language therapists
  • teachers
  • doctors
  • nurses
  • psychologists

Working environment

You could work in:

  • hospitals
  • schools
  • community clinics
  • a person’s own home

Useful information

To work as a speech and language therapy support worker in NHSScotland, you’ll need to:

Did you know?

King George VI received speech and language therapy to cope with a stammer. He relied on this therapy to deliver radio broadcasts and speeches.

Learning and development

When joining the NHS, you will work through the Mandatory Induction Standards. These standards are designed to help you work safely and must be completed within the first 3 to 6 months of employment. They will also support you in your first steps as a new healthcare support worker.

You may also be encouraged when in the post to work towards further education qualifications. These may include:

You’ll have the opportunity to work closely with speech and language therapists, and by completing supervised training will develop your skills. This experience as a healthcare support worker can be very helpful if you decide you want to go to university to study to become a registered speech and language therapist.