About us

The children and young people’s (CYP) speech and language therapy service offers a child- and family-centred approach to support CYP with speech, language, communication needs (SLCN) and those with eating and drinking difficulties in Hertfordshire.

We work in partnership with parents, carers, health and education professionals to promote positive outcomes for CYP. Our service model aims to reduce the gap and inequalities amongst CYP in Hertfordshire who have SLCN.

Our service offer is underpinned by the following aims:

  • CYP and families are empowered through the provision of information and advice
  • CYP and families are able to manage their own health and wellbeing by learning new skills
  • CYP’s participation is maximised through enhanced, communication friendly environments
  • The wider children’s workforce are confident to support CYP with SLCN
  • There is early identification of SLCN and impacts minimised through early advice and support
  • CYP and families can access high-quality, evidence-based, effective intervention in a timely manner
  • CYP achieve positive outcomes that prepare them for life through a collaborative approach

An overview about the CYP speech and language therapy service has been put together into a handy leaflet for parents.  

More detailed information about the CYP therapies service, including how the service is delivered, referrals and how we work with children and their families is available here.  

Service Pathway

 

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How the service is provided

The speech and language therapy team work with CYP in the most appropriate setting to promote functional communication and/or eating and drinking skills. We work with families and education staff to empower them to be confident agents of change for the individual CYP.

We routinely visit early years settings, mainstream schools and specialist schools. Some CYP may be seen at home or in a clinic according to clinical need. For those CYP with an identified need, an episode of care will be recommended. If required, the speech and language therapist will work through an interpreter should a child or family have difficulty communicating in English.

We offer support in different ways:

Universal - something for all children, for example: raising awareness and increasing understanding of SLCN and eating or drinking difficulties

Targeted - something for some children, for example: working with families and settings to help identify and overcome barriers faced by CYP with SLCN or eating and drinking difficulties

Specialist - something for children with a defined clinical need, for example: where our input can make a significant contribution to a CYP’s health and wellbeing

Not all children will require specialist support from the service as advice and support can be accessed through our targeted and universal offer.

Who is eligible for the service?

The children’s speech and language therapy service supports children and young people from birth to 18-years-old. Children and young people should be registered with a Hertfordshire GP or be resident in Hertfordshire, as well as attending a Hertfordshire school, college or early years setting. We also support young people up to the age of 25 years who have a Hertfordshire Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) and are attending an educational setting in Hertfordshire.

What will happen at your appointment?

Most pre-school children will attend a speech and language therapy screening clinic. Most school-aged children will be seen in school for their first assessment. It is important that you respond promptly when invited to make an appointment and that you contact the speech and language therapy service if you are unable attend. Parents/carers are required to attend a child’s initial appointment.

The speech and language therapist will talk to you about your concerns and ask about your child's speech and language development, or eating and drinking skills. The therapist will observe your child, and may carry out specific activities and assessments.

The therapist will talk to you about your child’s strengths and any difficulties they may have identified. At the end of the appointment the therapist may advise you that no further support from the service is required or they may provide you with some advice and strategies, and guide you to seek further support through your child’s educational setting. If your child does require direct support from the service, the therapist will inform you about what this episode of care will be.

If there is a particular activity you’re concerned about e.g. not being able to pronounce words, it would be helpful to have some toys and activities ready to show the therapist. Being in a room with fewer distractions can also help your child engage in the session.

We appreciate there can be technical difficulties when accessing virtual appointments, please check the link and internet connectivity before your appointment to ensure you can access the virtual clinic at the allocated time; if there is a delay in accessing the appointment it may not be possible to complete the appointment.

At the end of the appointment, the therapist will talk to you about how your child is progressing and provide you with advice and explain any next steps.

Clinic guide videos

 

More clinic guide videos to follow

Useful information

The children’s speech and language therapy service has provided some resources for parents and people who work with children. This is both general advice on common concerns, as well as specific advice sheets which a therapist may recommend for you.

Have you heard of the Local Offer? If you are a young person with, or have a child with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), the Local Offer is Hertfordshire’s central source of information for SEND services and support.

Visit www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/localoffer for an easily accessible one-stop shop.

 

Making a referral

Eating and drinking difficulties

If you are worried about your child’s eating and drinking skills, please speak to your child’s health visitor or GP in the first instance. Referrals for eating and drinking difficulties will only be accepted from a health professional, for example GP, health visitor, paediatrician, dietician etc. We would not carry out assessments of eating and drinking at our screening clinics. If a referral to the service is needed, please complete the online referral form. Click the referral guidelines for guidance on how to complete the referral.

Pre-school children

Should you have concerns regarding your child’s speech and language development, please:

  • Speak to your health visitor or local family centre in the first instance. They will often be able to provide you with advice on ways to support your child at home.
  • Family centres also offer some groups to support early language development.
  • Look at the ‘Useful information’ section on this webpage above which has specific resources for parents and setting staff to support speech, language and communication development.

If you are still concerned after trying out the advice then please follow the guidance below:

Children under 2 years, 6 months
Children under 2 years, 6 months can be referred directly to the children’s speech and language therapy service by a health professional if they have additional needs and there is a clearly identified language, communication, and/or eating/drinking need - see our referral guidelines for more information. Health professionals - please refer using the online referral form.

Children aged 2 years, 6 months and above (not in full-time school)
If your child is aged over 2 years, 6 months and you have ongoing concerns regarding their speech and language skills, they may benefit from attending a speech and language therapy screening clinic.

A screening clinic is a short assessment appointment which offers an opportunity for you to talk with the therapist regarding your child’s development and for us to gather information to understand your child’s needs.

The criteria for attending a screening clinic is as follows:

  1. Screening clinics are for pre-school children from aged 2 years, 6 months and above, who are not yet in full-time school
  2. Children need to meet our clinical referral criteria – please look at our referral guidelines to check if your child is eligible for our screening clinic at this time
  3. We are unable to see children with Education, Health and Care plans, or those requiring associated assessment within these clinics. A referral should be made by your child’s special education needs officer in this instance
  4. Children already known to the service, or children outside of the given age range for the screening clinics, are not able to be seen
  5. We are unable to complete assessments of eating and drinking at screening clinics (scroll down on this page for details of what to do if you have eating or drinking concerns)

If you need help or are not sure if your child meets the criteria, please call our advice line (01923) 470680 Option 3, Option 1 for support.

If your child meets the criteria above, please follow these steps to refer your child for a screening clinic appointment:

  • Complete the online referral form
  • If you would like advice on how to support your child at home whilst waiting for your screening clinic appointment, please follow the links in the ‘Useful Information’ section above.

If you have any difficulty completing the form and sending the information, please contact our administration team on 01923 470680 option 3, option 1.

If your child does not meet the criteria but you have some concerns we advise you to:

  • access the strategy sheets and videos on this website to support your child (see ‘Useful information’ and select which area of speech, language or communication that your child may need support with).
  • You can also talk to your local family centre or education setting to ask for advice.
  • If you continue to be concerned after implementing the advice or have any questions, please contact a therapist by calling the advice line (01923) 470680 Option 3, Option 1.

School-aged children

If your child is in full-time school, you should discuss any concerns you may have with your child’s teacher. Some children can be supported in their school without a referral to the service through advice from the school’s link therapist. SENCos and other educational professionals can refer a child to the service.

All referrals are to be made via the online referral form. HCT do not accept paper referrals. GPs can continue to refer into CYP Therapies Services using either the Digital Referral form, Ardens or DXS.

If you have any queries or experience any issues when making a referral, please contact the Children's referral hub:
01923 470680 Option 2 orhct.cypspecialistservices@nhs.net.

Patient experience

If you would like to share your story, please contact the Patient Experience team on 01707 388036 or email pals.hchs@nhs.net.

We would also love to hear about your experience on our service, please complete a survey by clicking here.

Additional useful information

Patient Story

This is an example of a patient story in which a parent, client or carer is asked about their journey through an NHS speech and language therapy service in Hertfordshire. Such information has been collected on behalf of the Trust in order to hear directly from patients about their interactions with a service and the ways in which it could be improved. A student speech and language therapist, Charlotte Fraser, conducted an informal interview with a parent on 1 March 2017 under the supervision of Mhairi Mason, speech and language therapist, to collect such data.

The journey

The parent outlined the child’s journey through the service, specifically focusing on her current phase at Tier One provision of SLT at a local severe learning disability school. Though she emphasised that her child’s journey had been long and difficult, she praised the service's continuing support and flexibility. She stated that she was extremely pleased with the current level of provision and felt that her child’s needs were being successfully being met and maintained.

Positive aspects of the service

The parent highlighted many positive aspects of the service, stating that though there was never a specific problem previously, the current SLT provision had been above and beyond what she expected.

Firstly, she highlighted that she always felt included in any decisions made concerning her child. She explained that there was always a clear path of communication and she was incredibly appreciative of the time dedicated by the SLT to ensuring she was kept up to date with her child’s progress. The parent expanded upon this, claiming that as a result she feels reassured and confident her child’s needs are sufficiently understood and being met at school.

Secondly, she commented upon the approachable nature of the professionals within the service, explaining that she felt able to contact them whenever she required reassurance or clarification. In addition, she was in no doubt as to their resounding dedication and care to improving the life of her child as well as their family.

Finally, she highlighted the professionals’ proactive nature as one of the best features of the service. She listed a variety of different activities that the SLT had specifically undertaken with her child as well as multiple activities devised and given to the agent of change (the school) to undertake. Furthermore, she was keen to highlight the inclusive nature of the SLT service as the professionals organised events such as Makaton Signing Workshops which provide relevant training for parents. Not only did she think these events were important for parents to attend in order to enhance their ability to communicate with their children, she said they had provided a sense of morale amongst those who attended. It was only during these sessions that she realised she was not alone as other parents were experiencing the same difficulties. Thus she explained that she was extremely grateful to the service for the opportunity to make friends with others in similar positions as it has recently been a great source of support. 

Negative aspects of the service

The parent struggled to find a negative aspect of the service, though she stated if she had to provide an answer it would be in the form of a suggestion rather than a criticism of the current provision. As highlighted previously, she thoroughly enjoys attending events provided by the service and would ask for these to increase in frequency. However, she recognised the difficulty of doing this given the time constraints on SLTs as well as the inconsistent and low attendance levels by other parents.  

Advice for future users of the service

The parent was pleased that the interviewer asked this question as she wished that she could have received advice from another parent in a similar situation at the start of her child’s journey. The first piece of advice she wished to share was the importance of patience – though she recognised each child’s journey through the service is different, she said that patience is vital to success as pressure on the child to achieve is minimised. Furthermore, she recognised that great change cannot occur overnight and thus it is a necessary, but difficult skill, to develop. She also said that she would encourage parents to be as pro-active as possible – whether this be through maintaining regular contact with the relevant professionals in the service thus feeling involved in the child’s journey or by attending parent meetings and training sessions. In doing so the parent claimed she had reduced her own anxiety and felt like a key part of her child’s progress. Finally, she wanted to encourage parents to develop or seek to find an effective support network as she stressed in order to cope, you must recognise that you are not alone in your struggle.