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Themes for the year 2020

To mark its 75th anniversary year, the RCSLT is launching a set of 12 creative themes – one for every month of the year – around which it will develop a suite of assets and resources to celebrate the profession and highlight the invaluable work of SLTs in supporting those with speech, language and communication needs, as well as swallowing disorders. 

About the themes

The themes are designed to be broad and flexible so they can cover a range of issues and be interpreted in different ways when it comes to planning local member activity. The hope is that having a new theme each month will keep things fresh and interesting and enable members to start conversations with their MDT colleagues and members of the public from a range of different perspectives.

Below we’ve listed what the themes are and suggested some of the ways you might want to interpret them: in the events you plan, the conversations you start, the posters you make, the challenges you take on, and the noise you make on social media! We encourage diverse responses to the themes and will be on the look-out for the most imaginative to profile on RCSLT communication channels.

Connecting the profession’s past with its future will form a key aim of all our anniversary activity, as will profiling the breadth of the profession. Woven throughout the monthly themes will be some common elements: the service users we support, the MDT colleagues we work alongside, the clinical areas we cover, and the settings in which we practise (although some of these themes, given their importance, also get their own month in the spotlight too).

January: Firsts

To coincide with the first month of our anniversary year, we’ll be kick-starting our celebrations on the theme of ‘firsts’ by taking a look back at the history of the profession and highlighting some of its pioneers and major milestones. You might choose to look at firsts from a different perspective: when did you first know you wanted to be an SLT? Or, if yours is a paediatric caseload, maybe you want to look at ‘first words’ by highlighting on social media the importance of interaction and play in developing children’s communication skills.

February: Love

Speech and language therapy is a profession with care and compassion at its heart. In February, the month of love, we’ll be asking what SLTs love most about their job; what do service users love about their SLTs? And in this increasingly busy and demanding world of ours, how do we practise self-care? Wellbeing is important for individuals and teams: why not host an event for your MDT colleagues this month to let them know how much you value their support?

March: Women

As International Women’s Day falls on 8 March next year, we’ll be taking ‘women’ as our theme and celebrating a profession in which women comprise the vast majority. We’ll be revisiting Pam Enderby’s famous equal pay case and exploring gender equality more generally, asking how we can redress the gender imbalance in the profession and promote speech and language therapy as a career path for boys. Perhaps you’ll want to mark this month by getting in touch with a local school to see if you can give a talk there about what it’s like to be an SLT? Or maybe you want to use it to highlight an area under-represented in research such as girls and autism.

April: World of work

Speech and language therapy as a career can take so many different forms and cover so many clinical areas, with SLTs working everywhere from the NHS to independent practices, to early years settings, schools, and the justice sector. Many of you have portfolio careers and work in more than one place. What does the workplace look like for the modern SLT? How can the corporate world be better supported to help those with communication needs that it comes into contact with? Consider public awareness-raising initiatives this month to highlight whatever clinical field you excel in.

May: In the spotlight

‘What does a speech and language therapist do?’ is a question that so many SLTs get asked by friends, family and strangers alike. For May’s theme, we turn to the representations of speech and language therapy, and communication difficulties, as they have been portrayed on stage, on screen and in print. In doing so, we hope to take the opportunity to bust some myths about the profession, and shine a contemporary light on what SLTs really do. Maybe this month you want to organise a film screening for your MDT (The King’s Speech, anyone?) or write a poem (for inspiration, see Steph Burgess’ Speak Up For Communication at bit.ly/2SRq67V).

June: Service users

Speech and language therapy is all about transforming the lives of those with speech, language, communication and/or swallowing needs. This month, let us all collectively celebrate the service users who make our jobs worthwhile. We’ll be encouraging you to get your service users to post photos and videos of themselves on social media, to help normalise and demystify communication difficulties and disabilities. Alternatively, you might to use this month to raise awareness about the Communication Access UK symbol among your local businesses and service providers.

July: Diversity

SLTs work with service users from every background and every walk of life, at all different ages and stages. This month, let’s get together to celebrate diversity in the profession, and highlight the work we’re doing towards making the SLT community as diverse as the communities they serve. If you’re an SLT from an under-represented community, however you define that, then you could consider volunteering to help progress the RCSLT’s programme of work in this area, or hosting an event to raise awareness of the profession as a career choice for others within your community.

August: Around the world

The speech and language therapy profession looks different in every country around the world. This month, let’s embrace our ties to international colleagues and the global profession by celebrating the importance of communication worldwide. Let’s get SLTs around the world tweeting about our anniversary: #RCSLT75

September: Education and training

As SLTs we are always learning, developing and working towards improvements. This month we’ll be celebrating everything in the profession that is education-oriented, from our student SLTs, their lecturers and mentors, to the things we can learn from each other and the past. Got a piece of advice you want to pass down to future SLTs? Share it on social! Have you discovered some great new CPD resources that you want to share with colleagues? Or, if you’ve ever wanted to launch a journal club, maybe this is the month to do it.

October: Inspiration

Who inspires you? What inspires you? This month is an opportunity to shine a light on inspirational figures in speech and language therapy, from the leaders and innovators of the profession to the everyday heroes and service users that help to give your day meaning and to make your job so rewarding.

November: Science, research and innovation

Speech and language therapy practice has come so far in the past 75 years, and, thanks to developments in science and technology, and the work of our innovators, research professionals and academics in the field, there are some incredible cutting-edge developments that have us excited for the next phase of the profession. Maybe you’ll want to use this month to redouble your efforts in the field of improvement science or implementation science? Or maybe you want to organise an awareness-raising event with any service users you have who use AAC?

December: Future

December might mark the last month in our anniversary year, but for us it will be a time of looking forward: where do you see the profession heading in the next few years? What changes do you see want to see implemented that will make your professional body stronger? What plans do you have that will help you achieve your professional aims? Perhaps you’ll want to use this month to check out all the RCSLT’s resources on influencing to be the change you wish to see in the (speech and language therapy) world.

Good luck and keep us posted! #RCSLT75