Speech and Language Therapy

What our service does

The Special Needs Team is part of the Speech and Language Therapy Service and is responsible for providing a service to preschool children with complex needs (Child Development Centre) and to children who have identified speech, language and communication needs and /or eating or swallowing difficulties (dysphagia) as part of their Education, Health and Care Plan who attend mainstream and special schools within Bedford Borough.

We provide a service for children between 0-19. The Service is provided in a number of ways depending on need. The Speech and Language Therapist will assess a child’s needs using formal and /or informal assessment methods; these will include observations and discussions with key adults in the child’s life. A report will be provided following initial assessment.

We will provide information and advice to enable key adults to:
• understand the language/ communication difficulty and / or swallowing difficulty
• gain skills to support the child at home and within the educational setting (preschools/schools).

We may provide individual sessions and / or group sessions to help develop specific skills and to review progress.

We aim to work collaboratively with parents and other professionals; and to agree a care plan which reflects identified targets to support development/management of the child’s speech, language and communication skills and/or eating and swallowing skills as appropriate.

Services offered to preschool children who attend the Child Development Centre include:
• initial assessment sessions ( contributing to a multidisciplinary assessment of a child’s needs)
• ‘communicate and play group’ sessions – children are offered this course of five weekly group sessions as appropriate following initial assessment.
• Down Syndrome group sessions – 6 sessions per year; a group for parents of children between 6-18months of age; to support early introduction of strategies to facilitate speech, language and communication development.
• Drop in group review sessions (Wednesday afternoons during term time) – these sessions are for children who have had an initial assessment and /or attended communicate and play groups. Families are given an allocated appointment between 13.00 and 14.30 or can attend without an appointment between14.30 and 15.30.
• Feeding clinic - joint clinic arranged by the Speech and Language Therapist and Paediatric Dietician to manage ongoing needs of children with swallowing difficulties. Approximately 2-3 clinics every 6-8 weeks.

Services provided to children who are attending a nursery/ preschool settings who have identified SEN; and children with identified needs as part of their Education, Health and Care Plan who attend mainstream and special schools:
• Assessment and review sessions are provided within the setting.
• Liaison with parents and education staff to agree and demonstrate strategies in order to provide a consistent approach to management of a child’s language and communication needs.
• Training and specialist support to parents and staff working with children and young people in preschool settings and schools; including parent workshops; termly program of workshops for adults supporting children within settings.

Location of our service

The Speech and Language Therapy Service is a county wide service (Bedfordshire and Luton). Within Bedford Borough, we provide a service to families and children at:
• The Child Development Centre
• Preschool and nursery settings
• Mainstream and Special Schools
• Paediatric Children’s and Neonatal Wards at Bedford Hospital.

Who our service provides for

Eligibility criteria for accessing the Service:
• Children (0-18) who are registered with a Bedfordshire or Luton GP.
• Children and young people with Education, Health and Care Plans who are registered with a Luton or Bedfordshire GP and attend educational settings within Luton and Bedfordshire.
• Children who present with speech and language /communication difficulties whereby:
- their language and communication skills are at a level which is less than half their chronological age;
- there is a discrepancy between receptive language skills (skills for understanding spoken language) and those related to expressive language, communication or speech;
- their speech and language/communication skills are less than skills demonstrated in other areas of their learning/ development;
and there is a specific role for the Speech and Language Therapy Service to assess and provide advice/ strategies to support development of skills in the areas described above.

• Children who present with dysphagia (difficulties relating to eating and drinking/swallowing) where there are concerns relating to the safety of their swallow and /or their ability to manage different textures of food due to delayed /disordered oro-motor skills.

Children who have speech and language difficulties, who do not meet the above criteria, may be sign posted to the Community Speech and Language Therapy Team who provide a service from health centres/ clinics.

How to start using our service

Referrals are required to access the preschool Speech and Language Therapy Service at the Child Development Centre. Referrals are typically made by Health Visitors; GPs; Consultant Paediatricians; Preschool / Nursery settings; other health professionals.

Referrals are required for school aged children attending mainstream or special schools. These referrals are typically made by the school.

Children /young people are offered an appointment within 18 weeks.

Referrals are required for children/young people requiring an assessment of their eating or swallowing skills. These referrals are typically made by the GP; Paediatric Consultant; Community Paediatric Nursing Team; Paediatric Dietician; Hospital paediatric / children’s wards; health visitor or school nurse. We aim to see ward referrals for inpatients within 2 working days and community referrals are prioritised according to needs.

How decisions are made about who can use our service

SEPT Community Health Services commission the Speech and Language Therapy Team to provide a service to:
• Children and young people who are registered with a Bedfordshire or Luton GP;
• Children and young people with Education, Health and Care Plans who are registered with a Bedfordshire and Luton GP and attend educational settings within Bedford or Luton.
who meet the eligibility criteria (see above).

How we communicate with our service users

The Speech and Language Therapy Service seeks the views of families who are service users through:
• Targeted surveys to seek views relating to specific aspects of service delivery
• Use of patient comment forms
• Questionnaires
• Involving patients and families in service redesign
• Face to face contacts with service users

Interpreters can be arranged for families whose first language is not English.

Parents are kept informed of their child’s progress via:
• Review meetings
• Phone contacts
• Reports
• Written programmes / advice

Parent workshops and information sessions are arranged according to requirements. Parents receive specific advice to enable them to support development of their child’s speech, language and communication skills. Strategies and specific techniques are demonstrated to parents to enable them to meet their child’s individual needs.

Accessibility of our service

The Child Development Centre is fully accessible to children and their families:
• Local bus route
• Wheel chair access
• Changing facilities
• Disabled changing and toilet facilities
• Parent’s information room
• Children’s waiting area
• Parking / Disabled parking

School based service for children with Education, Health and Care Plans.

Qualifications and training of our staff

All Speech and Language Therapists employed by SEPT Community Health Services:
• are registered members of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists
• are registered members of the Health Professionals Council
• have CRB clearance (renewed on a 3 yearly basis)
• undertake Safeguarding training and Equity and Diversity Training as part of their ongoing mandatory training requirements.

Additional areas of specialist training are undertaken by therapists within the team according to their specific clinical roles.

General Contact Information

Parents who have a concern regarding their child’s speech and language/ communication skills and / or general development should talk to their Health Visitor; GP; or other health/ education professionals who may be working with their child. They will be able to make a referral to the Speech and Language Therapy Service if required.

Contact for more information

Angela Benedito
Single Point of Access Administrator
SEPT Community Health Services Bedfordshire, Speech and Language Therapy Service, Union Street Clinic, Union Street, Bedford, MK40 2SF
01234 310699
Opening Hours:
Between 8.00 and 17.00; Monday to Friday excluding bank holidays

Record Last Reviewed On: 27/01/2016