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Latest News

Introducing the new Bulletin magazine

Introducing the new Bulletin magazine

As we announced earlier this year, Bulletin, the RCSLT’s magazine for members, has made the move from monthly to quarterly issues. And this week the first of the new style magazine lands on the doorsteps of speech and language therapists around the UK.

A new look

The Spring 2021 issue is bigger than ever and has a brand-new look. We’ve updated the design, added some new features and refreshed old favourites – while still keeping the Bulletin you know and love at the heart of these changes.

The new Bulletin doesn’t just look different – you might notice it feels different too. We’re pleased to say the new magazine is more environmentally conscious. It’s printed on an uncoated paper, which is sourced from sustainable forests and FSC certified. And, of course, it’s still delivered plastic-free.

What’s in the Spring 2021 issue?

In our latest issue, you’ll find:

  • Perspectives on implementing change in the workplace, selective mutism, resilience and self-care, and the nuances within racial discrimination.
  • An exclusive interview with Dr Muna Abdi ahead of the RCSLT anti-racism event in May.
  • Author Michael Rosen on his experience with speech and language therapy.
  • Features on student placements in the pandemic, the impact of COVID-19 in paediatrics and word learning in the early years.

RCSLT members can log in to read Bulletin online.

What RCSLT members are saying

RCSLT is delighted to have launched the new 2021 practice-based learning guidance. The new guidance incorporates and supersedes the interim guidance published in September 2020 and should be used in conjunction with the telehealth placements guidance.

The guidance is intended for all speech and language therapists (SLTs) and higher education institutions (HEIs) and aims to establish the RCSLT’s position on practice placements from this point onwards. It is hoped that this guidance has longevity, and also reflects learning, innovation and developments that have emerged due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some changes, such as the increased use of telehealth, have become regular modes of speech and language service delivery and therefore will be sustained elements of practice placements going forwards. These changes have been incorporated into the guidance.

The guidance outlines the key requirements and key recommendations for practice-based learning from this point onwards.

To coincide with the launch of this guidance, RCSLT has launched a campaign that aims to address the shortage of placements for speech and language therapy students.

The campaign will promote the practice-based learning guidance to increase awareness and understanding about the importance of placements and the variety of ways SLTs can provide sessions to students.

The campaign will feature social media activity, placement case studies, a webinar and a podcast.

Visit our placements campaign page to learn more, including how to get involved with the campaign.

If you have any questions about the guidance or the campaign, please email lucy.adamson@rcslt.org

Related content

Practice-based learning guidance

Explore the 2021 practice-based learning guidance

Telehealth placements guidance

Read the RCSLT guidance on telehealth placements

Student placements webinar

Register for our webinar on supporting future SLTs

A BBC News article highlights the vital role speech and language therapists (SLTs) have in rehabilitation after COVID-19. The article features the story of service user, Robert Crowther, as well as interviews with RCSLT chief executive Kamini Gadhok and RCSLT adviser in critical care Dr Camilla Dawson.

As we continue to learn more about the complexities of the virus, SLTs – “the often hidden front-line workers” – are working hard to help patients with long-term problems after contracting COVID-19.

Thousands of patients, many of whom are left unable to talk, eat and drink after weeks in intensive care, are being rehabilitated by SLTs. Around 60% of patients who have been “intubated for at least seven to 10 days have problems swallowing” and vocal cords can be severely damaged.

Robert Crowther was supported by SLTs when one of his vocal cords was paralysed by the ventilator that had kept him breathing for weeks in intensive care – “It was clear I’d fought off Covid, but now I couldn’t speak.”

Fortunately, after continued rehabilitation from the speech and language therapy team, Robert was able to eat and drink again and, in November last year, his voice “just came back”.

The rehabilitation journey can be long, and speech and language therapy services play a vital role in helping patients to find their voices again.

Kamini Gadhok, chief executive of RCSLT said: “We are still learning about patients’ recovery but we are doing really well as a profession to pick things up and learn from it.”

Dr Camilla Dawson said: “Eating, drinking and communicating […] enable us to connect, to be with people and share experiences, central to our cultures and the way we interact with society.

“[SLTs] are with people through the toughest, most isolating time. It’s the most overwhelming feeling to know how hard an individual has worked and how much opportunity they will have as a result of their treatment.”

Read the full article at BBC News online.

Visit the RCSLT COVID-19 hub for resources, guidance and support during the pandemic.

If you are interested in taking on an SLT apprentice in future but not sure where to start, take a look at the RCSLT’s new guidance for employers and universities.

This guidance will support you in thinking through the steps you need to take in developing a quality SLT apprenticeship. You can also download a template business case, which provides guidance and draft text on the key things to consider when planning to develop new apprenticeship pathways.

The RCSLT is supporting the development of a degree apprenticeship in speech and language therapy as a new route into the profession. Apprenticeships have the potential to extend the opportunity to become an SLT to a more diverse group of people who would not otherwise be able to follow the traditional route.

For more information about how to get involved, and the latest updates on progress, see our apprenticeship pages.

If you’re interested in becoming an SLT apprentice, take a look at our information for prospective apprentices.

As January’s issue lands on members’ doorsteps, we say goodbye to the monthly editions of Bulletin.

Usage of the RCSLT’s website has grown considerably over the last year, with greater demand for up-to-date news, clinical guidance and resources online. This combined with changes taking place in the wider publishing landscape prompted us to reassess how we should manage our channels to best serve members’ needs.

At the end of last year, we launched a Bulletin reader survey and held several focus groups, the feedback from which helped us to conduct a deep dive into members’ reading habits and content preferences.

Members told us that:

  • They valued Bulletin as a professional magazine: 96% of survey respondents identified as a ‘regular reader’, with 65% making time to read every single issue
  • An increase in the range of content provided by a larger but less frequent print magazine would be welcomed, with regular news and updates via RCSLT’s digital channels (77%)
  • Environmental issues were a big concern and members called on us to reduce our carbon footprint (81%)

To accommodate changes in member attitudes and expectations, and to ensure the magazine’s continued relevancy within an evolving profession, Bulletin will be moving from a monthly to a quarterly publication with immediate effect.

January marks the final monthly issue of Bulletin, and we will return in April with a bigger, revamped and more in-depth Bulletin.

In the meantime, you can keep up to date with the latest RCSLT developments via the website and on Twitter – @rcslt_bulletin.

The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) has issued an emergency call to the Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock to make improved personal protective equipment (PPE) available to all frontline healthcare workers.

The RCSLT’s call was made in partnership with the AGP Alliance – a coalition of healthcare organisations and trade unions campaigning to ensure frontline workers can do their jobs as safely as possible when dealing with cases of confirmed or suspected COVID-19.

The action comes just days after it was revealed that 49,000 hospital staff are currently off work due to the virus, which has led to huge staffing pressures.

Email your MP

RCSLT members and members of the public are encouraged to support the action by emailing their MP.

Enter your postcode below to find your MP and send your email.





You can also express your support on social media using the hashtag #FFP3PPE

More information

For more information, email peter.just@rcslt.org or padraigin.oflynn@rcslt.org

Read the RCSLT press release

With the NHS, and the health and care system more widely, facing unprecedented challenges across the UK, speech and language therapists will want to step up and play their part, and the RCSLT wants to support this.

This may involve full or part-time redeployment but is just as likely to be a few hours on a paid or voluntary basis, during usual working hours or at the weekend.

Working as a vaccinator

If it works for the service or setting you are part of in terms of cover and support, then there is nothing to stop you working as a vaccinator. This could also apply to independent therapists and the recently retired, for example.

It is important that you are given the relevant training and supervision to undertake this role. The HCPC has developed some guidance regarding scope of practice in this situation – visit the HCPC website for details.

The most common ways vaccines are administered by HCPC professionals is via Patient Group Directions (PGDs.) These are instructions from a prescriber to a named individual to give a certain medicine to a group of people. The professions listed by the HCPC include speech and language therapists.

If you are not administering vaccinations as part of a PGD, you will need to check with your employer regarding indemnity insurance to administer vaccinations, as this falls outside the normal scope of practice of a speech and language therapist and would therefore fall under the NHS redeployment of staff scheme.

Redeployment

You will have responsibilities to your employer who may want to redeploy you. You may also want to play your part.

At a time of national crisis, there is nothing to stop you stepping up to work in any role that is deemed helpful. It will need to work for your service or setting in terms of cover and support, and you will need to check your indemnity insurance cover if working outside a normal SLT role.

There are important things to note depending on which area you work in.

Redeployment when working within adult services (acute/community settings)

The experience of the first wave is that we also have a responsibility to patients and service users with conditions other than COVID-19 – for example stroke. Redeployment should ensure that essential SLT services can continue and should, where possible, make appropriate use of the specialist skills that SLTs can offer.

Redeployment from paediatric, mental health, adults with learning disabilities (ALD) services

The experience of the first wave is that we also have a responsibility to vulnerable children and to adults in the community. Children’s life chances are being irreparably damaged, which is why there has been clear UK government guidance that children’s therapists should not be redeployed. SLTs working with adults with learning disability and autism, for example, may likewise have a critical role in safety, safeguarding and wellbeing.

As with adult services, any redeployment should ensure that essential speech and language therapy services can continue, and should, where possible, make appropriate use of the specialist skills that SLTs can offer.

Read the RCSLT redeployment guidance for more information.

Other models of support and sharing ideas for new ways of working

We are aware that there is extreme pressure on the NHS workforce as a result of the increase in patients with COVID-19 and would like to support members to share examples of:

  • How you have re-purposed your service to support this
  • What roles you are undertaking that are not traditional SLT roles
  • Examples of SLTs (including assistant SLTs) supporting vaccinations/patient flow
  • Your reflections/what you have learnt from delivering these roles

For further information please contact info@rcslt.org.

General statement

The RCSLT understands the immense and unprecedented challenge that COVID-19, and within this the rollout of vaccines, presents to government, the NHS and society at large.

In order to simplify and clarify matters, we confirm that, in our view:

  • All registered and practising SLTs are key/critical workers for the purposes for which this is relevant. This includes those employed by the NHS, other employers or independently.
  • All registered and practising SLTs providing face-to-face therapy, along with students on placement and SLT assistants in the same settings, are frontline health and care workers for the purposes of vaccine prioritisation. This includes school and community settings.

It is also our view that other professionals working in the same settings should be similarly prioritised.

Member statement

Key worker and vaccine eligibility

1. Key/critical worker status – The RCSLT regards all registered and practising SLTs as key/critical workers for the purposes for which this is relevant. This includes those employed by the NHS, other employers or independently. We will provide members with a letter to this effect.

2. Vaccine eligibility – The RCSLT regards all registered and practising SLTs providing face-to-face therapy, along with students on placement and SLT assistants in the same settings, as frontline health and care workers for the purposes of vaccine prioritisation. This includes school and community settings. We will provide members with a letter to this effect.

It is important to be aware that there is likely to be local prioritisation within the frontline healthcare workers group, but nevertheless all frontline healthcare workers should receive the vaccine as part of this group.

3. Speech and language therapists working as vaccinators – There is nothing to prevent SLTs volunteering to work as vaccinators in the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines however, you should refer to the RCSLT guidance on redeployment and making best use of our professional skills.

Resources

If you are an RCSLT member, you can download an official letter as evidence of your key/critical worker status – you will have to be logged in to do so.

If you are an SLT in Northern Ireland, please see a letter from the Department of Health regarding vaccination. This letter is available to download for members – please log in for more information.

The HCPC has developed some guidance regarding scope of practice in this situation which can be accessed on their website.

As we begin another challenging lockdown period across much of the UK, the RCSLT is working hard to support members across all sectors.

Some members, particularly independent speech and language therapists and assistants, have asked us about establishing key worker status.

We have worked with ALSTIP to provide official letters confirming that our members meet the government definition of a key worker.

If you are an RCSLT member and need evidence of your key worker status, please visit our members’ page to download an official letter. Please note you will have to be logged in to view this page.

The RCSLT regards all registered and practising speech and language therapists as key/critical workers. This includes those employed by the NHS, other employers or independently.

For the purposes of vaccine prioritisation, the RCSLT recognises all registered and practising speech and language therapists providing face to face therapy, along with students on placement and SLT assistants in the same settings, as frontline health and care workers. This includes school and community settings.

Read our full statement on key worker and vaccine eligibility.

Further resources

We would also like to remind members of the RCSLT resources that are available on our website:

If you need further advice, please don’t hesitate to email info@rcslt.org.

As we begin another challenging lockdown period across much of the UK, the RCSLT is working hard to support members across all sectors.

If you need any advice or support, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the RCSLT enquiries team by emailing info@rcslt.org.

There are plenty of helpful resources available on our COVID-19 web hub, which is being regularly updated.

You may also find the following pages and sections of our website helpful::

 

Two members of the RCSLT have been recognised in the New Year Honours list, which marks the outstanding achievements of people across the UK.

The list, published on 31 December 2020, specifically acknowledges the contributions of hundreds of workers in response to the pandemic, with health and social care workers making up 10% of those awarded.

Sarah Wallace, consultant speech and language therapist at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, was awarded an OBE for her work as an internationally recognised leader and senior clinician within the field of dysphagia and critical care in speech and language therapy, as well as her vital role in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr Roganie Govender, consultant clinical academic speech and language therapist, University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, was named an MBE for her services to speech and language therapy.

This includes her leading role as a clinical academic in the field of head and neck cancer and her contribution during the COVID-19 pandemic to supporting modifications to practice through professional guidance.

Both Sarah and Roganie sit on the RCSLT COVID-19 advisory group and have been instrumental in the development of our COVID-19 guidance.

We also offer our congratulations to Mrunel Sisodia, co-chair of the National Network of Parent Carer Forums, who was awarded an OBE for services to children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities, and to Janice Nicholson, strategic lead of No Wrong Door; Suzanne Miell-Ingram, Makaton tutor and director of Singing Hands; and Tracy Gale Upton, Makaton tutor at Singing Hands who were each awarded an MBE.

The list highlights how those in the profession have stepped up during the COVID-19 crisis to ensure that speech and language therapy services continue to meet the needs of their users.

The RCSLT and nine other professional bodies have come together to call for better digital systems, better data and better digital leadership for allied health professionals (AHPs) in the UK.

In an open letter to the Chief AHP Officers in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and the Chief Therapies (AHP) Adviser in Wales, the professional bodies recognise and celebrate the progress made in recent months, but call for collective UK-wide action to ensure improvements continue to be made.

The letter outlines three priority areas identified by the AHP professional bodies and calls upon the UK Chief AHP Officers and Chief Therapies (AHP) Adviser, to confirm the priority they place on ensuring:

  1. All AHPs have access to electronic health and care record systems that are fit for purpose
  2. All AHP services are collecting, using and sharing quality AHP data
  3. AHP digital leadership at all levels to develop these foundations

Download the full letter and list of signatories (PDF).

Digital, data and technology are key strategic areas for the RCSLT and, in 2021, we will be updating and building upon the guidance and resources we already provide in these areas.

For further information, please contact info@rcslt.org.

 

At the start of November, we announced that all speech and language therapy students would be eligible for free membership of the RCSLT.

Since the launch of the offer, more than 800 students have taken up the offer, taking us to around 1,500 student members overall. This means we now have almost 19,000 members – a significant achievement to end the year on.

At a time when so many students have seen their studies and placements disrupted by the pandemic, the free membership scheme aims to increase students’ access to support and guidance.

Back in March, at the start of the pandemic, we opened up our online offerings to allow students free access – if you’re a student who signed up for this and have not yet signed up to the full free membership, please get in touch with our membership team to ensure your free access doesn’t expire at the end of December.

Benefits of the free student membership include:

  • Access to all RCSLT guidance, which can support you in your studies
  • The RCSLT CPD diary, to record your learning
  • More than 100 professional networks – joining these is a great way to build your CV
  • Online access to the RCSLT magazine Bulletin, and a subscription to the email newsletter
  • Access to the new student network in the RCSLT online professional networks area, where you can ask questions, share resources and connect with other students across the UK
  • Help and support when you need it through our dedicated enquiries service

Find out more about becoming a member in our membership overview section.