Stammering service shortlisted for Guardian Newspaper award
The Stammering Therapy team at Airedale Hospital, working in conjunction with the British Stammering Association, have been shortlisted for a Guardian Newspaper Public Service award for their innovative telemedicine work with patients who have a stammer.
The team were shortlisted in the ‘Digital and Technology’ category for their unique project which is a UK first and aims to deliver a specialist speech therapy service via a video link, to adults who stammer.
The project has been running for 6 months and has already given therapy to patients from all over the UK. None of these people are able to receive treatment locally, because of a lack of specialist speech therapists or because the service is not being commissioned in their area.
The therapy is delivered using free software so all the patient needs is a good internet connection, and a computer or smartphone with a webcam and microphone and many patients use their mobile phone.
Stammering affects 1% of the adult population and can have a long lasting impact and affect educational achievements, employment prospects and result in mental health difficulties.
The project is being funded by an Innovating for Improvement award from the Health Foundation and the trust has been awarded £75,000 to run a pilot 12 month programme.
Because there is no need for patients to take time off work and no travel involved, it is very convenient for the patients and receiving therapy in their own home or place of work reduces stress and often brings quicker improvements, as the therapy session becomes part of everyday life.
One patient is 27 year old Alex, who explains:
“I’m sad about all the missed opportunities for friendships. I’ve tried to escape from my stammer. I’ve failed.” After the first session, Alex said what a relief it was to talk about it – “I feel that I’m no longer alone.” Four weeks later, Alex said, “I make phone calls now. The world suddenly seems full of possibilities. You’ve managed to convince me to give it a more positive thought, to accept that stammering is part of me. It’s part of my story. I should do my best to make it a better story. I can turn it into a positive thing.”
Stephanie Burgess, Speech and Language Therapist and specialist in stammering, at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust says: “I am thrilled that we have been shortlisted for this award, which will help to highlight the many struggles faced on a daily basis by people who stammer and the fact that there is specialist help available to reduce the negative impact of stammering.”
The winners will be announced at an award ceremony on 28 November at One Maryleb