Latest News

Latest News

In the weeks since the pandemic struck, the RCSLT’s priority has been to support its members as much as possible. Those of you who’ve visited the COVID-19 hub on the website will have seen all the new guidance developed by expert advisors, the resources collated, and the data collection tools launched that will enable the profession to record outcomes for COVID-19 patients in real-time.

To keep pace with developments, the enewsletter was moved from a monthly to a weekly fixture. We know from the data how widely read our weekly digest has been, and so—as we enter the next phase of the pandemic, where attention turns to rehab pathways for COVID-19 patients and the resumption of services – we’ll continue to be in touch.

Throughout June, the enewsletter will still be delivered to you on a weekly basis, but, starting in July, it will move to a twice-monthly schedule.

Other changes to the enewsletter will include the introduction of content from some of the carefully vetted commercial partners who advertise with us in Bulletin.

We continue to monitor the impact of the current situation for RCSLT events and venue hire, and will bring you any updates as soon as we have them.

As always, our enquiries team remains on-hand to assist you during business hours – please contact them on info@rcslt.org or 020 7378 3012 with any queries you may have.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak

If you’re struggling to pay for your membership during this challenging time, please get in touch with the RCSLT membership team to discuss your options.

Email: membership@rcslt.org
Phone: 020 7378 3010 or 020 7378 3011

Membership application and payment forms: The membership team will have limited access to post sent to RCSLT head office in White Hart Yard, London. Please email all application and payment forms to membership@rcslt.org for processing. Scanned application and payment forms and clear photos of the application form will be accepted.

Membership renewal for 2020/21: To prevent delays in your payment being processed and to ensure your membership is renewed, please email all membership renewal payment forms to membership@rcslt.org, please not do not post them. This includes members who usually:

  • Pay by credit/debit card
  • Pay by cheque
Members can also choose to pay their 2020/21 membership fee over the phone by calling 020 7378 3011.

Members who pay their membership renewable by direct debit do not need to email a copy of the membership renewal form to the team, as your membership will renew automatically.

Please contact membership@rcslt.org if you have posted your payment form or cheque in the last few days and are unsure whether your payment has been processed.

For any other queries during this challenging time, please contact us

It is now time to renew your membership for 2020.

Whether you have moved house, changed your name or are taking a career break, our membership team will be happy to help you with changing any aspect of your membership details at any time.  Around 16,600 members now pay by direct debit and benefit from a £13.50 discount on their fees. If you have a UK bank account and don’t pay by direct debit, consider switching to save yourself time and money.

Insurance cover

The RCSLT provides professional indemnity insurance for Certified, Newly Qualified – Practising, Overseas Qualified Practitioner – UK Practising, Student and Assistant members based in the UK, as well as for Non-practising, Returners and Retired members in respect of past practice. An overview of your insurance cover can be found on the RCSLT website,  and you may also be interested in listening to our webinar on insurance. It is a legal requirement of Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) registration to hold professional indemnity insurance. Please ensure you are in the correct category when renewing your membership, as this cover cannot be backdated. If you need to change your membership category, your personal details, or the way in which you pay your fees, contact the RCSLT membership team at membership@rcslt.org. The RCSLT also provides legal fees insurance for UK-based members related to referrals to the HCPC.

Our insurance covers fully paid-up members only. Members paying by cheque or credit card will only be covered from 1 April if we have received your payment before this date—if you pay after 1 April, your cover will resume from the date you make your payment.

SLTs who are resident in the Republic of Ireland and are HCPC registered are eligible to join the Certified members category. However, due to possible changes in insurance law arising from Brexit, the cover provided in respect of professional indemnity and legal fees  insurance after 31 August 2020 may change. We will write separately to these members explaining the position.

Late renewals and fees

If you choose to renew your membership outside the usual renewals period, you will still be liable for your fees on the full-year basis. However, we will not be able to backdate your insurance cover and you will not have access to member only areas of the RCSLT website if your membership lapses. If you have not heard from us about renewing your membership by 1 March 2020, please get in touch by emailing membership@rcslt.org or calling  020 7378 3010/3011.

Health Education England has a new national programme to encourage Allied Health Professionals, Healthcare Scientists and Social workers to return to practice.

From HEE:

“The national programme for return to practice (RTP) supporting Allied Health Profession (AHP), Healthcare Scientists (HCS) and Social Workers (SW) to return to work is run by Health Education England (HEE). As part of the programme HEE will provide up to £2000.00 per returnee to support their Return to Practice process. The payment will be proportional to the needs of the returnee and divided between the returnee and relevant supporting organisations clinical placement providers and universities). The programme covers all professionals requiring registration with the Health Care Professions Council (HCPC) (AHP, HCS or Social Workers).

Monies will only be paid to returnees and any supporting organisation when the returnees have formally registered their interest with the HEE programme by completing the relevant proforma (Returnee Information Form) and the participating clinical placement provider agrees to support the returnee with a clinical placement. All parties’ must agree to provide the relevant information in a timely manner to ensure relevant payments are authorised and paid.

HEE will pay all monies in line with costs agreed as part of the project. At no point should any party be delayed payments of due fees unless insufficient information has been provided in accordance with process. The amount paid to each party will be in accordance to any pre-arranged agreement between HEE and all participating third parties. Any monies claimed and not used are to be returned to HEE.”

The monies can be claimed for:

  • Academic support
  • Placement education
  • Out of pocket expenses

At the RCSLT Honours Ceremony and Giving Voice Awards on 25 September, RCSLT Chair Dr Della Money announced the appointment of two new honorary vice-presidents: Lord Ramsbotham and Lord Shinkwin.

Lord Ramsbotham will be a familiar name to many members. He has been an outstanding advocate for speech and language therapy over many years and has long championed the work of the RCSLT in the parliamentary arena, most notably through his long-time chairing of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Speech and Language Difficulties. In recognition of his exceptional personal contribution, we are delighted that Lord Ramsbotham has accepted the nomination to be the RCSLT’s honorary life vice-president. This is the first time anyone has held the title and the Board of Trustees felt this was a fitting way to mark his service.

Lord Shinkwin has also worked to raise the profile of the profession over the past 18 months, promoting the Bercow: Ten Years On report by tabling numerous parliamentary questions and facilitating meetings with ministers for the RCSLT and the children’s charity I CAN.

The outgoing Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow also continues in his post as one of our honorary vice-presidents.

We look forward to continuing to update members on the involvement of Lord Ramsbotham and Lord Shinkwin in RCSLT work.

Voice Box Cymru is now open for entries from Wales’ primary schools to showcase their funniest joke and look to take 2020 crown.

The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) has begun its search for its next Voice Box Cymru champion after the success of its inaugural 2019 competition. Aimed at primary-school aged children, the competition focuses on how communication is so important, but also fun.

The 2019 competition was won by 8-year-old Leo Jones from Llangors Church in Wales School in Brecon, who impressed the judges with his joke about an inflatable boy in an inflatable school, who popped everything he could find and let the school down.

Voice Box Cymru helps shapes how children and young people share stories and demonstrates the work that speech and language therapists do here in Wales in making such a positive difference to children and young people.

Dr. Alison Stroud, head of Wales for the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, said: “We’re really excited to again be welcoming entries from the primary schools and special schools of Wales for Voice Box Cymru 2020. We had an incredible time this year meeting the finalists and I’m looking forward to seeing what next year’s final has to bring.

“All children need help to develop their skills to communicate, not only at home, but also in school. This is why, as an organisation, we want to make sure that children see the fun in speech and language, finding the confidence to be able to share their own voice.”

The RCSLT has teamed up with the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) Cymru and Parentkind to hold the contest, which reminds people that all children need support to be confident with their communication skills and some need specialist help to speak and/or understand what is being said to them.

More than 700 schoolchildren, aged between five and 11 years-old, took part in Voice Box Cymru 2019 and 10 were selected from primary, as well as special schools from across Wales to be in the final at the Pierhead Building.

For more information about Voice Box Cymru and how to enter, visit www.rcslt.org

Notes to Editor

The event was launched in Northern Ireland in 2011 where mainstream and special schools were invited to hold Voice Box joke-telling competitions. The RCSLT teamed up with The Communication Trust to launch Voice Box in England, Wales and Scotland in 2013.

More than 10% of children and young people have long term speech, language and communication needs which create barriers to communication or learning in everyday life. This includes 7.6% of children who start school with developmental language disorder – a condition where children have problems understanding or using spoken language, with no obvious reason for these difficulties – and 2.3% who have difficulties associated with another condition, such as autism or hearing impairment.

About the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists

The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) is the professional body for speech and language therapists in the UK, representing over 17,000 members. It facilitates and promotes research into the field of speech and language therapy – the care for individuals with communication, swallowing, eating and drinking difficulties. It promotes better education and training of speech and language therapists and is responsible for setting and maintaining high standards in education, clinical practice and ethical conduct. Find out more at www.rcslt.org

Learning disability and autism have been in the headlines this week, with report after report finding continued failings in the way people with learning disability and/or autism are cared for and supported.  These reports raise serious questions about how people with complex needs are supported and engaged with and the focus, or the lack thereof, which we place on good communication.

A report from the Children’s Commissioner found that the number of children with learning disabilities or autism living in mental health hospitals has doubled since 2015, with the quality of care highly variable. A further report from Care Quality Commission into restraint found an increase in people with a learning disability and/or autism being held on long-term segregation and on mental health wards.

This was followed by the Third Report from the Learning Disabilities Mortality Review which reported ongoing concerns over the quality of care for people with learning disability.  To round this off, BBC Panorama broadcasted an expose that revealed staff still using abusive behaviour to people with learning disability eight years on from the Winterbourne scandal.

What can be done?

Most people with learning disabilities and/or autism have speech, language and communication difficulties, yet the role of good communication is still hidden or overlooked.  Everyone needs to know what good communication support ‘looks like’ and what reasonable adjustments they can make to achieve it.  However, these reports reveal what happens when communication is not supported and the risks for people with learning disabilities and/or autism.

The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists strongly urges that action is taken to ensure that:

  • Reasonable adjustments are in place to support all people with a learning disability and/or autism to communicate their wishes, needs and feelings.  All services must be required to embed the Five Good Communication Standards
  • All staff, who provide care, must be properly trained to support people with complex needs
  • There is joined-up support from multi-disciplinary teams, including speech and language therapists, provided to all people with learning disability and/or autism that need it.
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Dysphagia assessment should be considered an aerosol generating procedure (AGP), a new report from an expert RCSLT advisory group concludes.

The advisory group was established in response to concerns raised by RCSLT members about the government’s guidance on personal protective equipment (PPE), which omits dysphagia assessment from its current list of AGPs.

While government guidance on PPE continues to be reviewed and updated, the omission of dysphagia assessment from its AGP list potentially puts speech and language therapists undertaking these assessments at risk of contracting and transmitting COVID-19.

The RCSLT has submitted the report – which is backed by the Intensive Care Society, the National Tracheostomy Safety Project, the British Thoracic Society, ENT UK, the UK Swallow Research Group, the European Society for Swallowing Disorders, the British Association of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, and the British Association of Stroke Physicians – to government, and to the Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, which is leading on a review of AGPs.

Two SLTs are among those recognised by the Queen’s birthday honours this year.

Georgina Calwell, from Ballymena, County Antrim, was awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for her services to speech and language therapy, particularly during the first phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. Georgina is a manager of the adult speech and language therapy team for the South Eastern Trust in Northern Ireland.

Jacqueline Harland, from Brighton, was recognised with an MBE for her services to children with special educational needs. Jacqueline is a speech and language therapist who has worked in paediatrics for over 30 years. She is one of the founders of Arc Pathway, an early learning platform for teachers and parents.

The Queen’s birthday honours list, which is usually published in June, was delayed this year to recognise individuals for crucial contributions during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic.

Honours recipients are announced twice a year and recognise people who have made achievements in public life and committed themselves to serving and helping Britain

An expert RCSLT group that includes NHS clinicians, independent SLTs and colleagues from UK higher education institutions (HEIs) has been working on the development of pre-registration practice-based learning guidance.

The final version of this guidance will replace the RCSLT National Standards for Practice-based Learning  (January 2006), with the aim of ensuring that speech and language therapy pre-registration practice-based learning is:

  • successful in developing a future workforce of competent speech and language therapists
  • delivered in supportive and quality assured clinical teaching and learning environments
  • sustainable and available to meet the demand of student numbers in HEIs
  • a collaborative responsibility between SLTs in practice and HEIs, to support the future speech and language therapy workforce.

The consultation survey can be found here. Full details of how to complete the survey are provided in the introduction.

Please share this survey widely with your networks.

The consultation closes at 5pm on Friday 6 November 2020.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the RCSLT has been working to monitor and address the needs of members. Since May, members have been participating in a regular survey evaluating the experiences of healthcare professionals during the pandemic, conducted by Research by Design.

The ninth and final ‘wave’ of this survey has now been completed, and the results from all nine waves provide valuable insight into the profession’s response to the pandemic.

Wellbeing

Over the course of the survey we see a slight upwards trend in life satisfaction and happiness, but there is evidence that anxiety levels (having decreased slightly since May) may now be on the rise again. The latest wave saw 40% of respondents reporting high anxiety—the highest proportion measured at any point in the research.

Throughout the survey, the most prominent concern impacting members’ wellbeing has been concern for the health of friends and family. There is some evidence that workplace stress may be on the rise, with a steady increase in those complaining of low morale at work, from 18% in wave 1 to 27% now. Similarly, difficulties arising from staff shortages have risen from 7% to 20%.

Members report that ‘unfamiliar ways of working’ has been the most challenging aspect of the pandemic for them over the past few months. This continues to be a concern today, with 45% citing this among the factors having the biggest impact on their current wellbeing.

Work environment

The vast majority of RCSLT members have worked throughout the pandemic, with 93% working today. The proportion working with COVID-19 patients has decreased over the course of the survey, from 28% in wave 1 to around a fifth (18%) now.

Throughout the pandemic, the most common way in which members have described their work environment is ‘unpredictable’, followed closely by ‘emotionally challenging’, and this remains the case today.

The third most common descriptor, ‘intense’, has increased in usage throughout the survey, with 45% using it in wave 9. Members are also increasingly likely to describe their work as:

  • ‘Overwhelming’ (from 28% in wave 1 to 36% in wave 9)
  • ‘Stretching’ (from 26% to 33%)
  • ‘Relentless’ (from 18% to 32%)

This suggests that the pressure is building on members to manage heavy workloads, which may explain the increase in anxiety.

However, the majority of members have said the RCSLT has done a good job of supporting them throughout the pandemic, and have consistently said they are ‘very likely’ to renew their membership.

Optimism for the future

Optimism for the future, having fluctuated slightly throughout the course of the survey, has unfortunately dropped in the most recent wave (46%, down from 59% in wave 1) — although more members remain optimistic than pessimistic.

Members anticipate a second wave of COVID-19 and difficult working conditions in the coming months, and will need the continued support of the RCSLT to manage the challenges ahead.

For RCSLT guidance and information relating to COVID-19, see our dedicated website hub.

The RCSLT enquiries team is available to assist with all member queries: email info@rcslt.org or phone 020 7378 3012

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At the beginning August, the RCSLT announced a forthcoming survey on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people’s access to speech and language therapy.

Since then, we have consulted with service user organisations on the survey questions, and have started work on making the survey accessible in a range of formats. The survey will also be available in Welsh.

We hope to launch the survey soon, and plan to keep it open until early in the new year.

Why are we doing this?

The RCSLT has been concerned about how the pandemic may have affected people’s access to speech and language therapy. We want to hear from service users about their experiences, how they feel and what they think about the future.

The survey also builds on a long-standing RCSLT ambition to work with service users regarding their experiences of speech and language therapy. This has been a regular theme highlighted to us by service user organisations during previous engagement workshops.

We are pleased to now have the opportunity to make that ambition a reality – at a time when accessing speech and language therapy is more important than ever for people of all ages, and at all stages of their lives.

How are we doing this?

Once the survey is available online, we will be working with service user organisations to promote it to their beneficiaries. We will also be promoting it across a range of RCSLT platforms.

But we need your help, too!

If you’re a speech and language therapist, you can help in a number of ways:

  • Promoting the survey to your clients and local service user organisations
  • Helping us translate the questions into different languages
  • Supporting the RCSLT’s social media work around the survey

If you’re someone who receives speech and language therapy, or a family member or carer of someone who does, you can also help:

  • By filling out the survey once it’s available – including giving us permission to contact you about your story, if you wish
  • By promoting the survey to other people you know who receive speech and language therapy
  • By supporting the RCSLT’s social media work on the survey

How we will use the information?

Dr Judy Clegg from the University of Sheffield will be analysing the survey findings for us, and we hope to publish them in early 2021.

The findings will help us to make the case to governments across the United Kingdom for more speech and language therapy support, if and where it is identified as needed. The findings should also support our understanding of the impact of new ways of accessing speech and language therapy, and what people think about them.

The findings will be the basis for the RCSLT’s influencing work across the United Kingdom, including with service users and the organisations that work with them. We also look forward to working with members on this workstream, and will provide more updates as the survey progresses.

How can I get more information?

If you would like more information, please email peter.just@rcslt.org or padraigin.oflynn@rcslt.org.

Black Lives Matter: A statement

The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) is committed to equality, inclusion and creating better lives for all. We condemn the brutal killing of African-American George Floyd and stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement protesting his killing and wider injustices.

The RCSLT stands with the Black community and other BAME communities against all forms of racism, whether overt, insidious or structural, and we encourage our members to do the same.

Racism and discrimination are faced by BAME community members every day, and the speech and language therapy profession is not immune from these scourges. It is therefore no longer enough for us simply to stand up and condemn racism: we must be actively anti-racist.

We therefore encourage our members to engage with members of the BAME community, whether colleagues or service users, to understand their reality and to understand the challenges they face on a day-to-day basis. It is essential that we as professionals take it upon ourselves to research more into these issues, for example by engaging with hashtags such as #blacklivesmatter on social media platforms. The onus should not always be on people of colour to educate others on issues.

It is no secret that diversity within the speech and language profession is an issue and has been for a very long time. BAME people have always been underrepresented in the profession and continue to be underrepresented.

There are no easy answers, but the RCSLT continues to engage our membership and continues to learn in order to address this issue. The RCSLT as an organisation, and the speech and language therapy profession as a whole, must be part of the solution and so we will continue to address this head on.

What are we doing?

We’ve made the diversity pages on our website open access so that members may see the work that is currently underway.

Members have also been in touch and suggested a number of actions, which the RCSLT has already committed to undertake:

  • To promote greater visibility of BAME members across all RCSLT communications channels in order to improve representation across the website and social media channels.
  • To create a platform/safe space for BAME members, including SLT students, to express the challenges that they face without judgement or fear of repercussion.
  • To hold a profession-wide online event, led by members of the BAME community, in order to have a candid conversation about racism and discrimination, to support cultural change within the profession.
  • To encourage our membership to learn and engage more through literature to support greater understanding, awareness and active change of racist and/or discriminatory practice and to create a culture of challenging those behaviours.

The RCSLT pledges to actively work with our members to stand with the Black community and other BAME communities against all forms of racism, to be anti-racist, and to do everything we can to bring about a positive change.

We encourage members to get in touch with further suggestions and feedback.

Putting in the work: An anti-racist reading and resource list

Articles

Videos

Books

  • Springer Nature – A collection of books, articles and journals that endorse the statement Black Lives Matter
  • Cambridge University Press – Protests, Policing, and Race: complementary books chapters
  • Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge
  • Me and White Supremacy: How to Recognise Your Privilege, Combat Racism and Change the World – Layla F Saad
  • Between The World And Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Black Skin, White Masks – Frantz Fanon
  • Whitewashing Britain: Race and citizenship in the postwar era – Kathleen Paul
  • White Fragility: Why is it so hard for white people to talk about racism – Robin DiAngelo
  • How to be less stupid about race – Crystal M. Fleming
  • Natives, race, and class in the ruins of Empire – Akala
  • So you want to talk about race – Ijeoma Oluo
  • White Rage: the unspoken truth of our racial divide – Carol Anderson
  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the age of colorblindness – Michelle Alexander
  • Women, Race, and Class – Angela Davis
  • Small Great Things – Jodi Picoult
  • The Good Immigrant – Nikesh Shukla
  • Raising Free People: Unschooling As Liberation and Healing Work by Akilah S. Richards
  • Speech and Language Therapy and Professional Identity: Challenging Received Wisdom by Jane Stokes and Marian McCormick

For families and children

Videos

Charities

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Help us tell the story of an incredible profession.

At the start of the RCSLT’s 75th anniversary year, we had big plans for celebrating the speech and language therapy profession and for recognising the incredible difference our members make to so many lives. Royal events were in the calendar, hub celebrations were lined up, and a special awards evening was envisioned.

Then, everything changed.

As the pandemic took hold, and the Black Lives Matter movement shone a light on injustices within the profession, speech and language therapists, assistants and students were tested and showed their mettle like never before, in wide-ranging ways –

  • On the front line in COVID-19 wards.
  • Maintaining their hospital and community-based services.
  • Reaching out and innovating through telehealth.
  • Stepping out of retirement or studies to provide support wherever it was needed.
  • Striving to ensure continuity of provision for service users.
  • Learning new skills, and leaving their comfort zones behind.
  • Protecting the greater good by shielding at home where required.
  • Preparing to return to a very different world while furloughed.
  • Advocating on behalf of under-represented communities and providing leadership which has made an impact on the profession in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Every member of the profession has played a vital role. And so this year, instead of our usual awards and honours, we’re inviting everyone to come together (virtually) to celebrate speech and language therapy, reflect on the time we are living through, and lift one another up.

Taking part is easy, and you can do it any time. The online celebration kicks off on 1 September. Just share a few words, a picture, a video, a drawing – anything which tells the story of the experience you and your colleagues have had and which shines a light on the value of the profession.

You can use Twitter or Instagram, or a public post on Facebook. Be sure to use the hashtag #SLTappreciation so others can find your posts.

RCSLT staff will be following along and drawing your contributions together to share on all our channels. We may even have a story or two of our own to pitch in.

Thank you for all you are doing.

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Health Education England is running an online workshop to look at issues around clinical placements for allied health professionals (AHPs).

The workshop’s aim is to gain insight from the AHP community, including SLTs, to improve clinical placements both now and in the future. Registration is now open and the workshop will run online until 7 July.

The workshop is open to anyone who registers to give a view, including international contributors. Participants will be asked to consider a number of key questions in relation to AHP placements and how to overcome the challenges presented by Covid-19.

The RCSLT is keen to ensure that the speech and language therapy community is represented in this piece of work.

Register for the workshop here.

The RCSLT has worked with the British Association of Teachers of the Deaf (BATOD) to develop best practice guidance on collaborative working between Qualified Teachers of the Deaf (QToDs) and Speech and Language Therapists (SLTs).

View the guidance here.

The guidance has been developed by members of both professions and aims to improve outcomes for deaf children and young people through the provision of best practice guidance on how to provide effective collaboration between QToDs and SLTs. It replaces the 2007 position paper entitled ‘Collaborative Working between Speech and Language Therapists and Teachers of the Deaf’.