Better commissioning should improve outcomes for children and young people with speech, language and communication difficulties

Communication Aid

Speech and language therapy for adults with a learning disability is concerned with supporting people who have disorders of communication or difficulties with swallowing. Support is developed and designned on an individualized basis following detailed assessment and diagnosis although support and training for carers can be an important part of the support strategy.

The NHS commissioning support programme have just published a suite of tools which offer a guide to commissioners and service providers to improve the system, services and outcomes for children and young people with speech, language and communication difficulties.

They suggest that better commissioning can reduce dependency on the health, education and social care system. People who struggle to communicate are at high risk of poor outcomes in a range of areas.

They state that

one in six children who have difficulty in learning to talk and understand; the 7% of five year olds – on average, two or three in every classroom – who have specific difficulties in speech, language and communication and for more than half of children starting nursery school in socially deprived areas of England who have delayed language.

Each of the documents can be downloaded from the NHS commissioning support programme website. They are:

  •  Tools for commissioning better outcomes: introduction
  • Needs assessment
  • Whole system mapping and design
  • User involvement
  • Workforce planning
  • Evaluating outcomes

 Commissioning Tools for Improved Outcomes for Children with Speech, Language and Communication Difficulties, NHS Commissioning Support Programme, 2012


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John Northfield

After qualifying as a social worker, John worked in community learning disability teams before getting involved in a number of long-stay hospital closure programmes, working to develop individual plans for people moving into their own homes. He worked for BILD, helping to develop the Quality Network and was editorial lead for the NHS electronic library learning disabilities specialist collection. This led him to found the Learning Disabilities Elf site with Andre Tomlin as a way of making the evidence accessible to practitioners in health and social care. Most recently he has worked as part of Mencap's national quality team and also been involved in a number of national website developments, including the General Medical Council's learning disabilities site.

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