Speech and language therapy

NHS speech and language therapy service for Bedfordshire and Luton

Who is the service for?

The Children’s Speech and Language Therapy Bedfordshire NHS Service aims to improve speech, language and communication skills in children and young people. Speech, language and communication skills develop in everyday situations throughout the day at home and school.

The service aims to work in partnership with parents and carers, education settings and a range of other professionals. The team works with children and young people up to the age of 16 years (up to 19 years in specialist education) who have a difficulty with communication or swallowing.

The service is provided in a number of ways, depending on need. This may be for example: individual or group treatment, support and advice in nursery or school, parent/carer workshops and drop-in information clinics.

How to access the service

Assessment clinics for children who are pre-school age and younger

If your child is in pre-school or younger and you are worried about their speech, language and communication development, you can come to one of the service's assessment clinics. A therapist will talk through your concerns with you and carry out a brief screen with your child. You can then make decisions together about what happens next.

Find out more about speech and languge therapy (link opens in new window)

Your child may be referred to a child development centre if they have more complex needs and would benefit from being seen by a team of people. The team usually includes a paediatrician, speech and language therapist, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, communication support team and specialist early years advisory teachers. The teams are based at:

Child Development Centre
Hill Rise
Bedford
Bedfordshire
MK42 7EB

Edwin Lobo Centre
Redgrave Children & Young People Centre
Luton
Bedfordshire
LU3 3QN.

Referral to both is via your GP, community paediatrician, hospital consultant, early years support or speech and language therapist.

Once accepted to the service, your child may be seen in pre-school, clinic or at the Child Development Centre or the Edwin Lobo Centre depending on their need.

School age

If your child is in school and you are worried about their speech, language and communication development, please talk to your school about your concerns. The speech and language therapy service works closely with schools; offering a school-based service in mainstream schools and special schools and will discuss referrals with SENCos. Schools are required to complete a school age referral form.

What does the service do?

The pre-school and school teams work closely with parents, families, carers, education staff and other professionals to enable adults to:

  • understand the language/ communication difficulty/ dysfluency (stammer) and / or swallowing difficulty
  • gain skills to support the child at home and within the educational setting

The service aims to work collaboratively with parents or carers and other professionals to agree a care plan which has functional and meaningful outcomes for you and your child to support your child to achieve communication and / or swallowing skills to their full potential.  

The service is passionate about fostering a communication-friendly environment across all settings. The team values a "total communication" approach. Therapists within the team support children and young people to use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) at home and school. AAC covers a huge range of techniques that support or replace spoken communication. These include gesture, signing, symbols, communication boards and books, as well as powered and computerised devices such as voice output communication aids (VOCAs.) Enabling people to communicate improves their quality of life. It offers people new opportunities in their family life, education, social life, friendships and employment, and helps to increase their independence.

The service offers:

  • training of the team around an individual being provided with AAC
  • ongoing support for individuals referred to the specialised service, with responsibility for re-referral if and when appropriate
  • local awareness raising of the need for and benefits of AAC interventions within local health, social care and education services and settings

The service also offers workshops to support children’s speech, language and communication skills within their daily life.

  • the Blank’s workshop aims to develop the adult’s knowledge of the Blank’s model and strategies to use to support and develop children’s language skills. This is a widely used model to help us think about the types of questions and language is used when talking with children
  • the Communication-Friendly Environment workshop aims to develop the adult’s knowledge of the important role the environment and the words used have in supporting and developing children’s communication
  • the Language Skills workshop aims to develop the adult’s knowledge of how language develops and strategies to support children with language difficulties within the classroom
  • the Speech Sound workshop aims to develop the adult’s knowledge of how speech develops and strategies to support children with speech difficulties

The training is offered as part of a child's or young person's package of care. It is essential for a member of staff and parent or carer to attend this core training to gain ideas and strategies to support children’s speech within all environments. The Blank's workshop is offered to parents or carers and pre-school settings and schools. The Language Skills workshop and Speech Sound workshop are offered to pre-school and school settings. The Communication Friendly training is offered to school settings.

Early Communication Support team

We commission the Early Communication Support team to work in a preventative role, supporting children's early communication skills. The team is based in children's centres and provides:

  • drop-in sessions for families in children’s centres across Bedford Borough and Central Bedfordshire to access advice for children under school age
  • early speech and language groups for parents to access with their children in children's centres
  • home visits to support the child's early communication skills (criteria applied)
  • training and support to early years practitioners and childminders to enhance their knowledge and skills

How to contact the service

Paediatric Speech and Language Therapy Service (SaLT)
Florence Ball House
Bedford Health Village
3 Kimbolton Road
Bedford
Bedfordshire
MK40 2NT

Telephone: 01234 317002

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