Large numbers (62 per cent) of children and young people needing speech and language therapy did not receive any during the first lockdown, the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) has revealed. The RCSLT warns that the consequences on children’s mental health, educational attainment, social skills and family life are ‘grave’ and is calling on the Government to act now to secure their futures. It wants speech and language to be put at the heart of educational recovery plans.
The report, Building back better: Speech and language therapy services after Covid-19, shares people’s experiences of accessing speech and language therapy during the first lockdown between March and June 2020.
Of the survey respondents who said they had not received any speech and language therapy during that time:
- 82 per cent were worried about their education
- 74 per cent were worried about their social life and friendships
- 60 per cent were worried about their mental health
- 52 per cent were worried about their home and domestic life.
- A majority (79 per cent) of respondents were worried about getting speech and language therapy help in the future.
The combination of schools closing, the need for PPE and social distancing, plus speech and language therapists being redeployed to the NHS front line, made delivering appointments at the very least challenging and in some cases impossible. The survey also reveals that, in spite of speech and language therapists innovating and adapting their services to deliver teletherapy, more than a third of the children and young people missed out on the care they needed to communicate with family members and engage fully in their education because telephone and online services were unsuitable for them.
RCSLT chief executive Kamini Gadhok said, “We know communication difficulties put children and young people at greater risk of poor literacy, mental health issues, and worse employment outcomes in adulthood. “
“This is why we’re calling on the Government to do the responsible thing and put speech and language at the heart of its educational recovery plans, and to invest now in the speech and language therapy profession to cut waiting times for the most vulnerable members of our society.”
The full report is available via website link