As part of the RCSLT’s support worker framework, the project group outlined ways of increasing and encouraging equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in the SLT support workforce.

Encouraging interest in the role from local communities and under-represented groups

The project group spent time focusing on diversity and cultural inquisitiveness and considered some potential approaches from the group’s experience and the survey. The following approaches are suggested for all AHP roles:

  • Working with community groups and organisations, such as local schools and colleges, youth groups, careers fairs, and the voluntary sector to promote this career.
  • Working with agencies that explicitly support groups furthest from the labour market into employment, such as adults with disabilities, young people with special education needs, care leavers. Working with agencies such as Mencap, the Prince’s Trust and the Shaw Trust will assist this.
  • Working in partnership with existing staff and representatives, such as those from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds or who have disabilities, who experience additional barriers to accessing training or development opportunities so that needs can be understood and any barriers broken down.

Speech and language therapy services have facilitated the role of bilingual co-workers representative of the languages spoken in the local area. This brings another extra (and important) skill that other services may not have.

This increased diversity with the aspiration that the profile of support workers would mirror the languages of the local community. Some services have recruited bank workers who are potentially interested in a career as a support worker and are offered basic training in speech and language needs and support and offered sessional employment. This can work well for a language like Pushtu where there are few interpreters available. Innovative approaches can reduce barriers, enhance service provision and at the same time build relationships with local communities.

How can we ensure that those using the framework develop cultural awareness/inquisitiveness to inform their work?

  • The AHP Support Worker Competency, Education and Career Development Framework (PDF) puts emphasis on developing cultural awareness/inquisitiveness.
  • An example of a positive initiative is that the North West Hub for support workers is planning a project to support cultural inquisitiveness for hub members. This involves developing a support network and mentoring scheme that will build on the skills within the non-qualified practitioner framework. The ethos is that these themes are the same for anyone working in the profession at any level and the skills are embedded from initial training onwards.
  • Services can include competencies which ensure contact with a diverse range of populations through shadowing opportunities. This will strengthen relationships and networking with local communities.

How can we increase equality, diversity and inclusion within the SLT support workforce?

  • Anecdotally, support workers often appear to come from a more diverse range of backgrounds than SLTs – representative of the communities that we service and speak a broader range of languages – this should be celebrated and highlighted. Suggestions have included shining the spotlight on support workers from diverse backgrounds through articles in the Bulletin.
  • Continued encouragement of cultural inquisitiveness across the profession to make it safe and supportive to ask questions (view resources in the toolkit)
  • Careers fairs etc should explicitly discuss the role and value of support workers as well as SLTS.
  • The apprenticeship may support wider uptake of support worker roles but this will be short term as people in those roles train as SLTs – we need to also look at the sustainability of the support worker role and promote to these roles specifically. Be mindful that carer progression and movement is not the same as for SLTs so support workers may stay in their jobs for longer.


  • Ideally all career videos and resources should be captioned and versioned as easy read documents (for framework and supporting resources).
  • Considering potential roles within a service for those with a disability. There are possible roles in expert patient initiatives, joining interview panels, patient and public involvement forums. There are often significant barriers around navigating permissions from the organisation but there are some administrative and clinical roles which could be undertaken by someone with a learning difficulty or an autistic person. This is creating a specific role initially to foster interest and inclusiveness in aspects of the SW role.
  • Sometimes small, sheltered roles within a service for an adult with learning disabilities can be a stepping-stone to a job role.
  • There has been a surge in the use of translation services and interpreters, and it was suggested that we reach out to communities and engage with bilingual support workers. This brings another extra (and important) skill that others may not have, and it should be recognised.
  • Working with interpreters should also be considered (see our guidance on using interpreters).


Useful resources on inclusive recruitment:

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Support worker framework

Support worker framework

Support worker toolkit

Practical tools and resources for support workers and their managers