As a speech and language therapist (SLT), you'll provide treatment, care and support to babies, children, adults and elderly people with a range of conditions, including cleft palate, stammering, language delay and voice disorders. These can be caused by a range of issues, including:
mental health conditions
You'll usually work as part of a multidisciplinary team alongside other health professionals, and will often liaise with family, carers or teachers when developing treatment plans. You can also work in private practice.
Your tasks will vary depending on your client and the nature of the problem. However, you'll typically need to:
identify the speech and communication difficulty or disorder
assess the cause and nature of the problem, for example, congenital problems (such as cleft palate) or acquired disorders after a stroke or injury
devise and deliver a suitable treatment programme, working on a one-to-one basis or in groups, to enable each of your clients to improve as much as possible
review and revise the programme as appropriate
advise carers on implementing a treatment programme and train other professionals in therapy delivery
monitor and evaluate your clients' progress
write confidential client case notes and reports, as well as information for clients, carers and other professionals
manage a caseload while taking into account priority cases, waiting lists, successful outcomes, referral and discharge of service users
work within a team to improve the effectiveness of service delivery.
To practise as a SLT you must be registered with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC). In order to register you'll need to complete an HCPC-approved undergraduate or postgraduate degree in speech and language therapy.
You'll need to have:
excellent communication and listening skills, to relate to people of all ages and backgrounds, motivate clients and gain trust. Clients may be uncooperative because they're frightened, frustrated or disorientated by their situation
patience, as progress may be slow - involving repetitive exercises to aid clients who have problems memorising, processing and retaining information
creativity and problem-solving skills, to design programmes appropriate for different learning styles and communication issues
the ability to work in a team, for interacting with other professionals
organisational skills and flexibility, to deal with a range of clients in varied settings
the ability to be at ease in a clinical environment
qualities such as empathy, assertiveness, tact, a sense of humour and physical and mental stamina.
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