SLT Claudine Milligan describes how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected her speech and language therapy team.

At Alder Hey we offer inpatient and outpatient services for acute dysphagia and communication in children with neuromuscular disorders, acquired brain injury, cardiac conditions, oncology, including neuro-oncology, and designated services for cleft palate and craniofacial conditions. Throughout the pandemic our service has continued for inpatients, with all the personal protective equipment (PPE) challenges that brings.

Our outpatient service has continued with a mixture of digital and face-to-face appointments. Digital assessments have presented both successes and difficulties. Initially, we found it extremely challenging to conduct assessments digitally but with perseverance and an open mind these have proved positive, for example they prevent long car journeys to the hospital and missed school time. We hope to use these digital techniques to support our outreach service across the country going forward.

Digital appointments have promoted closer liaison with schools and centres nationally and internationally. They have also allowed us to offer more second opinions to SLTs nationwide. Meanwhile, the pilot of clear masks has been invaluable to deliver assessment and therapy to our patients.

In order to achieve all of the above we have relied heavily on our wonderful admin team. COVID-19 has challenged us as speech therapists, but it has also allowed us to grow professionally.

Claudine Milligan, SLT at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital