RCSLT’s workforce, education and training programme is a collection of projects which are being designed to support the ongoing educational priorities for speech and language therapists (SLTs) through all stages of their careers.

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Introduction

RCSLT’s workforce, education and training programme is designed to support the ongoing educational priorities for speech and language therapists (SLTs). Its aim is to ensure there is an effective supply of SLTs through an all-encompassing educational curriculum with a long-term goal of improving the retention of SLTs. Enabling SLTs to feel confident in their roles and providing opportunities to develop their careers through defined education should ultimately promote workplace satisfaction and improve retention.

RCSLT has a team in place and a series of projects has been established to meet these aims with a specific focus on speech and language therapy, aiming to conclude by 31 March 2025. The programme is funded by NHS England, however our plans include all four nations and we aim to engage with SLTs from the entire UK.

If you would like to get involved in any of these projects, please contact the team at wrp@rcslt.org.

Projects will cover the following areas:

  • SLT educators
  • SLT careers
  • Inclusive SLT education
  • SLT training
  • Support workforce
  • NQP and preceptorship
  • SLT career development
  • Professional stewardship

SLT educators

To ensure sufficient capacity and capability to successfully grow the SLT workforce, we will conduct scoping exercises looking at potential opportunities to strengthen educator networks (both academic and practice).

This could include career promotion for roles in education, placements in education roles, and scoping for a best practice guide across multiple allied health professionals for growing educator capacity and capability.

SLT careers

Careers advice for teachers

We are working with career and education industry leaders to develop content for resources and signpost materials for careers teachers, advisors and career changers.

As part of this initiative, we will therefore develop and deliver (where appropriate) the following:

  • SLT job profile information for careers advisors, teachers, parents, carers and career changers
  • Careers resources for teachers including information on SLT profession
  • Live webinar/s for students, teachers and career changers including a Q&A session

Justice

We will concentrate on highlighting SLTs operating within the justice system. This initiative includes promoting the diverse career paths followed by SLTs in this sector. The goal is to create resources detailing the various entry points and career paths available to students, newly qualified practitioners (NQPs) and SLTs considering a career change.

SLT training

A curriculum review is being conducted which will produce a refreshed course fully adopted by universities. The work will provide clear professional body guidance on clinical placement hours including the proportion of which that can be delivered through simulation.

Members can find out more about this project and how to get involved.

Support workforce

We will be developing strategies to support members to embed inclusive recruitment for SLT support workers.

We will be also looking at ways of supporting our members to increase the number of entry-level and/or assistant practitioner roles across priority clinical pathways and employers.

NQP and preceptorship

We will be re-evaluating the current NQP and preceptorship process. Feedback has informed us that undertaking both of these at the same time is time consuming and challenging. The preceptorship process may also be different in each nation so there is a desire to standardise the process across the UK.

We are therefore, looking at how we may update the process into an RCSLT preceptorship programme and align this with the existing professional development framework. RCSLT will be hosting some co-creation events, inviting all members to attend and have their say. If you would like to come along, please choose from one of the events in the survey.

SLT career development

Enhanced roles

RCSLT is currently working on the new enhanced practice apprenticeship which aims to maximise professional capabilities to ensure services are safe and productive, encourage retention by providing clear career pathways and meet service needs.

First contact practitioners are placed in the enhanced practice space and work in primary care settings. They are able to safely provide the first point of contact and assessment for a specific group of patients. We aim to provide primary care networks with information about the roles SLTs can have in primary care and demonstrate what they can bring to the space.

Advancing roles

RCSLT are working with RCOT to look at how we may reimagine pathways for advancing practice, developing more opportunities in community settings and approaches that are not aligned with the typical medical model.

This work is beginning with a series of collaborative online events and we are asking for as many members interested in the advancing practice space to get involved and have your say. Watch our initial introductory webinar which was held on 28 June and register to attend further webinars.

The next 3 webinars will cover the following:

The insight event will be a collaborative and open opportunity for all to contribute to exploring the characteristics of advancing practice across allied health professions. The aim is to build an understanding of the level of practice from an Allied Health Professions perspective and what knowledge, skills and attributes contribute to this from an Allied Health Professions perspective which supports establishing the alignment to existing frameworks across nations.

  • Insight event 2 – AHP professional development for Advancing Practice (30 July)

The insight event will focus on professional development in relation to advancing practice, seeking to explore Allied Health Professions perspective of the components, approaches and strategies to support education when working towards Advanced Level Practice. We want to hear from Allied Health Professions to understand what would be the essential ingredients in a educational approach to support working at an advanced level practice.

As part of the commission, we will undertake professions specific events for occupational therapy and speech and language therapy to delve into the requirements and focus of educational approaches/programme. We really want to hear from occupational therapist and speech and language therapist perspective of the hallmarks of education to enable professions specific development with advanced level practice.

Consultant roles

For consultants, we are looking to open and promote a professional network for SLTs to share resources and keep up to date with any progressions in the space. We also hope to share some case studies of members working in a variety of consultant level roles.

Professional stewardship

Community paediatric dysphagia

Children and young people services are experiencing significant waiting times preventing children from receiving support in a time frame needed to increase the chances of positive outcomes of therapy. There are issues recruiting appropriate staff, gaps in opportunities to develop competencies exist and a need for peer support and supervision.

In a previous project by RCSLT, a series of recommendations were made following a survey to understand the gaps and challenges faced by speech and language therapists working with children and young people with eating, drinking and swallowing needs. Therefore, RCSLT will aim to reengage with this project and implement the most important recommendations, helping clinicians feel prepared and supported in such roles.

Children and young people waiting times

We are reviewing the staffing levels implications of CYP waiting lists. As part of this process, we will look at:

  • Evidence about why SLTs are leaving the profession, and what changes could be made which would help with retention.
  • Examples of new ways of working which are enabling services to reduce waiting lists (or not have them in the first place) and/or retain staff.
  • Examples of how joint commissioning/delivery is helping services to offer quality care/ improve outcomes

These project findings alone are not sufficient to generate national or regional workforce numbers or calculate the costs of meeting gaps between provision and demand. They do, however, lead to the recommendations regarding possible next steps in more comprehensive evaluation of workforce requirements. Members can find out more about this project and how to get involved.

Responsible clinician

We are exploring a case for change to allow speech and language therapists to have more clinical authority. At present, speech and language therapists are not eligible to train in the role of Responsible Clinician and Approved Clinician. This is despite the desire of speech and language therapists wanting to embrace this role.

This barrier prevents speech and language therapists from progressing in their career, developing and working at the top of their ability. This lack of progression and career pathway affects the retention, and possible future recruitment, of speech and language therapists to the mental health workforce.
It also excludes a profession from taking on this role who have the clinical skills, expertise and leadership to support service users to meet their individual rehabilitation and recovery needs.

Therefore, RCSLT has been campaigning for the role of Responsible Clinician and Approved Clinician to be extended to speech and language therapists. Members can find out more about this project and how to get involved.

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