This online hub brings together all relevant resources and information for speech and language therapy support workers and their managers. It includes information about the role, training and development, career information and support networks.
Return to the support worker hub.
(Last updated June 2023)
The support workforce
The speech and language therapy support workforce is an integral part of speech and language therapy services, having a unique skill set which complements that of the speech and language therapist.
Optimising the contribution of the Allied Health Professions support workforce
The RCSLT, together with other professional bodies and trade union partners for the allied health professions, has published a joint statement.
Actions we commit to take:
- Work with UK Governments and relevant arms-length bodies to bring about change to increase the number of support workers whilst ensuring they have consistent access to appropriate education, training and development.
- Take action to increase equity, diversity and belonging within the support workforce.
- Lobby for consistent and equitable access to continued professional development for the support workforce.
- Support the development and implementation of career frameworks and supporting resources.
- Highlight the role and contribution of the support workforce nationally.
Supporting the training and development of speech and language therapy support workers
The RCSLT position statement explores current themes in the development of this crucial role in the speech and language therapy workforce. It introduces the RCSLT support worker framework and reinforces some key messages for speech and language therapy managers in relation to supporting initial training and ongoing development in the role.
The lead author’s project preface (PDF) provides guidelines for the support and development of the support worker role using this competency-based framework. As well as this, the lead author’s feature article (PDF) written for our Bulletin magazine in Autumn 2023 reveals how the new RCSLT support worker framework can help SLTs and support workers alike.
There is a considerable variation in job titles used across locations and settings.
For consistency, the terms support worker and support workforce are used across all RCSLT materials to refer to all levels and job titles within the unregistered speech and language therapy workforce.
Here is a summary of some of the titles which were collected, collated and considered as part of this project:
The wide range of titles used across the UK reflects the diversity of roles under the umbrella title of support worker. Increasingly, some support workers are working in specific areas of support, with enhanced skills which are different to the core skillset of the SLT e.g. in family/carer support. An example is in universal/health promotion services where the support workers describe how their work is set up and supported by SLTs, but they are not assisting in an ongoing therapy process. In these settings some support workers prefer SLT support practitioner. Some services have changed the title totally to ‘developmental lead’, or CALS (communication and language specialists). Speech and language therapy assistant (SLTA) is widely used as a term to describe support workers. In some case studies shared on our career and support pages, you may see this phrase still being used.
NES (NHS Education Scotland)
Uses the umbrella term HCSW (healthcare support worker) to include all non-registered clinical staff across nursing, midwifery and AHP professions approx. 3800 are AHP support workers. This project documented 160 different titles for non-registered staff across all AHP’s.
Titles used in frameworks
The following titles have been used in learning or career frameworks.
AHP titles/NHS career progression information
- Entry level
- Intermediate practitioner
- Clinical Support Practitioner (established)
- Senior Clinical Support Practitioner
Profile Titles from AFC Bandings (May 2006)
- Clinical Support Worker (Speech and Language Therapy)
- Clinical Support Worker Higher Level (Speech and Language Therapy)
- Speech and Language Therapy Assistant / Clinical Support
- There is no profile or title for Band 5
The project group considered this variability in titles and preferred the term assistant practitioner. However, the decision was made to use the umbrella term of support worker to align with the HEE, now NHS England, framework as this has extended the term support worker across all AHP’s. It also uses the term assistant practitioner for a specific level of support worker.
Speech and language therapy support workers are entitled to a range of benefits as part of their member registration with the RCSLT, including access to:
- Eligibility for minor grants and awards
- RCSLT professional networking groups (by invitation), e.g. Hubs and CENs
- RCSLT professional networks
- The online support workers hub, which includes:
- Toolkit and resources,
- Career information.
- RCSLT guidance and information
- RCSLT CPD diary and CPD guidance and resources.