Interview with Linda Page, NHS Speech Therapy division.
If someone in Ayrshire needs a speech therapist, what should they do? The service has an open referral policy. This means that individuals can refer themselves, or be referred by their GP, the college, a relative or anyone who knows them.
How many types of speech therapy are available in Ayrshire? Lots. There are 3 community teams who work with children, as well as area wide specialist teams who work with children with additional support needs. There are also teams who work with adults who have specific language or communication problems. These teams are based in Crosshouse, Ayr, Irvine, Cumnock and Girvan.
Who funds speech therapy services? Mostly the NHS, but additional funds can sometimes be provided through the Education Department.
Do patients have to buy communication aids, or are they loaned out? No-one should have to pay. Because of the Scottish government’s ‘The Right to Speak’ report, an extra £4 million pounds is to be given to health boards to improve services and provide new equipment for people who have communication needs.
Are there age limits for accessing speech therapy services? There are no age limits. Babies born with swallowing problems can be referred to the service directly after birth, as can older people who have suffered strokes or from the result of accidents.
Do you visit people in their own homes? The team will see people I wherever it is most convenient, whether it is at home, in school or college, or in hospital.
How do you decide which type of communication aide a patient will get? By getting to know the person, and carrying out an assessment of their needs and what type of aid they prefer to use. When that has been decided, they will be loaned the equipment for 4-6 weeks, then be assessed again to find out how useful it has been.
What type of qualifications do you need to become a speech therapist? Lots of Highers – 5 at A or B! There is a 4 year degree course, which covers neurology, phrenology, child language development and a placement.