It was the European Day of Speech and Language Therapy on the 6th March 2021. The theme for this year was Telepractice and Digital Technologies within Speech and Language Therapy.
When the national lockdown began in March 2020, our Hackney SLT team began a careful but swift transition to offering remote services. This involved enlisting a team of teletherapy ‘champions’, creating a webinar series, negotiating with our NHS Trust on use of different platforms, developing and analysing a team survey on our adaptation to virtual practice and setting up a new service delivery approach for virtual sessions.
We continued to work on this aspect of our service through the summer and autumn terms, so were in a position in January to be able to roll out a whole series of virtual group therapy sessions this spring from Shape Coding™ to Zones of Regulation™ to DLD and Me™. We received referrals for 99 children and were able to offer places to 60 across 29 schools, while the remaining children joined a waiting list. Twenty of our SLTs facilitated the groups and were aided by eight student SLTs on placement. Each group involved a careful screening process followed by a 6-12 week block of weekly group therapy.
Positives of running the groups included being able to work with children and young people from multiple settings, parents and family members having an easy opportunity to get involved in therapy, and opportunities for newly qualified SLTs to shadow more experienced colleagues. Challenges included getting to grips with the various platforms and newly acquired tech skills, and dealing with the logistics of group members being both in settings and at home.
We’ve had some really positive parent feedback, for example:
-Parent describing a young person’s response to a virtual DLD and Me group.
We are excited about the continuing development of this new branch of our service, and look forward to exploring ways to best integrate virtual sessions within our existing clinical pathways and service delivery models.
By Speech and Language Therapists Jenny Ray, Lydia Kijowska, Maya Dytch, Frances White and Caroline McCallum.