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Speech and language therapist: Job description

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Speech and language therapists (SLTs) work closely with babies, children and adults who have various levels of speech, language and communication problems, and with those who have swallowing, drinking or eating difficulties.

The role can involve working with a diverse client group, including people with physical and learning disabilities, hearing loss/deafness, psychiatric disorders or dementia.

Therapists assess a client's needs before developing individual treatment programmes to enable each client to improve as much as possible.

Treatment plans often involve other people with whom the client has a close relationship, for example family, carers or teachers.

SLTs usually work as part of a multidisciplinary team, alongside other health professionals such as:

  • doctors;
  • nurses;
  • psychologists;
  • physiotherapists;
  • occupational therapists.

They may also liaise with professionals in education and social services.

Typical work activities

Tasks vary depending on the type of client, e.g. baby, child or adult, and on the nature of the problem, but may include:

  • identifying children's developmental speech and communication difficulties/disorders;
  • assessing and treating swallowing and communication difficulties arising from a range of causes, e.g. congenital problems (such as cleft palate) or acquired disorders after a stroke or injury;
  • devising, implementing and revising relevant treatment programmes;
  • advising carers on implementing treatment programmes and training other professionals in therapy delivery;
  • assessing communication environments;
  • monitoring and evaluating clients' progress;
  • working with clients on a one-to-one basis, and in groups, to deliver therapy;
  • writing and maintaining confidential client case notes and reports, as well as information for clients, carers and other professionals;
  • managing a caseload taking account of priority cases, waiting lists, successful outcomes, referral and discharge of service users;
  • working with others to improve the effectiveness of service delivery.

Therapists operating at more senior levels may be involved in the following:

  • conducting personal development reviews with colleagues;
  • supporting/supervising newly qualified speech and language therapists and speech and language therapy assistants;
  • setting organisational and personal objectives;
  • planning and delivering training sessions;
  • contributing to the implementation and evaluation of projects and developments;
  • undertaking clinical audit through the collation of statistical, financial and other data relating to service delivery;
  • participating in research projects.

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Written by AGCAS editors
November 2014

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