Building back better: Speech and language therapy services after COVID-19

Published 16 March 2021, the RCSLT’s Building back better report shares people’s experiences of accessing speech and language therapy during the first UK-wide lockdown.

The Building back better report

Between November 2020 and February 2021, we conducted a survey of people’s experiences of accessing speech and language therapy during the first UK-wide lockdown (March–June 2020).

The report – Speech and language therapy during and beyond COVID-19: building back better with people who have communication and swallowing needs – tells the stories of the five hundred people who filled out the survey.

  • While some people were able to access speech and language therapy during lockdown, many more were not.
  • The report details the impact on them and their families and carers of not having speech and language therapy, or having less therapy than they had before lockdown.
  • It also sets out what needs to happen to ensure that people with communication and swallowing needs can access the speech and language therapy that they need.

Read the full report

Read the report by section

Next steps

As the RCSLT works to build back better with people who have communication and swallowing needs, we need your help.

Please let us know if you would like to support our national influencing work or if you would like to use the report to influence locally.

Email peter.just@rcslt.org or padraigin.oflynn@rcslt.org to get involved.

Report breakdowns by condition

Where numbers allow, we are producing condition-specific breakdowns of the survey findings.

ADHD

Download the report:

Download the video with key messages from the report:

Aphasia

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Download the video with key messages from the report:

Autism

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Download the video with key messages from the report:

Brain injury

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Download the video with key messages from the report:

Cleft lip and palate

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Download the video with key messages from the report:

Deafness

Download the report:

Download the video with key messages from the report:

DLD and language disorders

Download the report:

Download the video with key messages from the report:

Down’s syndrome

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Download the video with key messages from the report:

Learning disability

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Download videos with key messages from the report:

Neurological conditions

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Download the video with key messages from the report:

Parkinson’s disease

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Download the video with key messages from the report:

Stammer

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Download the video with key messages from the report:

 

Report breakdowns by English region

Where numbers allow, we are producing breakdowns of the survey findings by English region.

Yorkshire and the Humber

Download the report:

Download the video with key messages from the report:

Sector letter to the Prime Minister

Following the publication of Speech and language therapy during and beyond COVID-19: building back better with people who have communication and swallowing needs on 16 March, a coalition of over 80 organisations have written to the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.

They have urged the Government to implement the recommendations in the report.

The organisations work across education, health, social care, justice, disability, employment and poverty, and include charities and professional bodies.

Letter

Download the letter to the Prime Minister (PDF)

Policy statement

Download the accompanying policy statement (PDF)

Social media graphics

Graphics are available for promotional purposes.

Download the Twitter graphic (PNG)

Download the Facebook graphic (PNG)

Download the Instagram graphic (PNG)

Government response

The Government responded to the letter to the Prime Minister on 27 October.

Read the letter (PDF).

More information

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

How you can help

Thank you for your interest in our Build Back Better SLT project, we are very grateful. Whether you’ve got five minutes to spare or half an hour, here’s a toolkit on engaging with your MP (PDF), and keep reading for key actions you can take to support our influencing work.

Petition on Parliament website

Speech and language therapist, Gillian Rudd, and two parents, Dave Harford and Steve Hermon, have tabled a petition on the Parliament website. It is open until 9 December and can be signed by all British citizens and UK residents.

The petition calls on the UK Government to fund improved support for people of all ages who have communication and/or swallowing needs and require speech and language therapy.

Sign the petition

We encourage you to sign the petition and share it with others.

The Government’s response to the Petition

On 23 July 2021, the government issued a response to the Build Back Better petition, which reached 10,000 signatures.

The response pulls together existing government statements and commitments, but is silent on the resources that will be needed to build speech and language therapy services back better.

Read the Government’s response to the petition.

Read our preliminary response to the Government’s statement (July 2021).

Read our full response to the Government’s statement (September 2021) (PDF).

If the petition gets 100,000 signatures, it will be considered for a debate in the House of Commons.

Share the Petition

You can share the petition by sending the link through your networks or sharing on social media using #FundSLT. We’ve created a set of social media graphics (PNG) which you may wish to use to accompany your posts. If you need an accessible explanation of the petition, you may wish to use this EasyRead summary (PDF).

You may also consider printing this flyer (PDF) and posting it in your local area – or sharing in any other creative ways you can think of!

Write to your MP – speech and language therapists

If you are a speech and language therapist, you can email your MPs directly asking them to support our policy calls. All you need is your postcode and five minutes.

Take action

Write to your MP – speech and language therapy students

If you are a student studying speech and language therapy, you can email your MPs directly asking them to support our policy calls. All you need is your postcode and five minutes.

Take action

Write to your MP – non-speech and language therapists

If you are having speech and language therapy or need it, you can email your local MP directly asking them to support better therapy access. All you need is your postcode and five minutes.

Take action

To note: most matters relating to health, education and justice are devolved so decisions on them are not usually made at Westminster, but in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast. However, MPs from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will still be interested in hearing your story.

Speech bubble pledges

Download printable speech bubbles pledging your support to #BuildBackBetterSLT:

More information

If you would like any more information, or advice, please contact:

Resources to support promotion and influencing

Following on from the Building back better report, one way you can support our national influencing and campaign work is by sharing the survey results with key stakeholders. We’ve produced the below videos and graphics for you to use on social media, highlighting key aspects of the survey findings.

Headlines

Download videos highlighting the headlines of the survey:

Impacts

Download graphics highlighting the impact of changes to speech and language therapy:

Communication and swallowing

Download graphics about the impact of COVID-19 on communication and swallowing:

Face masks

Download graphics about respondents’ experiences of face masks during speech and language therapy appointments:

Telehealth

Download graphics about respondents’ experiences of telehealth:

Most and least deprived areas

Download graphics about access to speech and language therapy in the most and least deprived areas of England:

Future worries

Download graphics about respondents’ worries for the future:

Your ideas

If you had any ideas about resources that would support your influencing, please contact peter.just@rcslt.org or padraigin.oflynn@rcslt.org.

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