23 March 2022

Today marks two years since the start of the first UK-wide lockdown.

The RCSLT has spent this period working to understand the impact of the pandemic on people who access speech and language therapy, speech and language therapy services, and speech and language therapists themselves, so that we can better support our members and the people that they serve.

Two years on from the start of the first lockdown and a year on from the publication of the Building back better report, we are pleased to publish a report of responses to the Talking Mats survey (PDF), which aimed to understand the impact of subsequent lockdowns on children and young people with speech, language and communication needs.

Respondents to the Talking Mats survey were clear – struggling to talk makes life difficult and difficulty communicating feelings increases anxiety. This confirmed what people told us in the Building back better survey about the impact of the pandemic on their ability to access speech and language therapy, and what this meant for their lives and the lives of their families and carers.

At the same time that service users were telling us about their difficulties accessing speech and language therapy, members told us that demand on their services had increased either significantly or somewhat compared to before the pandemic. These high levels of demand on services were not limited to the early stages of the pandemic – they have continued for at least 18 months. Read more in our survey on the pandemic’s impact on the demand for service resources (PDF).

Such sudden, drastic changes led the profession to innovate and practice in entirely new ways. However, this relentless increase in demand has had, and continues to have, a huge impact on speech and language therapists. In an RCSLT survey on members’ wellbeing, the majority of respondents told us that – since the beginning of the pandemic – they have felt overwhelmed at work, their anxiety and exhaustion has increased, they have felt an increase in low mood, and they had concerns about their safety.

Reflecting on the many lives that have been lost over the last two years and the tremendous impact that the pandemic has had on all of us, we are very grateful to the members and service users for taking the time and emotional energy to tell us about their experiences – thank you, and we will use what you’ve told us to continue supporting you and campaigning on your behalf.

Building back better report

People’s experiences of accessing speech and language therapy during the first UK-wide lockdown

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