Stammering team shortlisted for HSJ award
The stammering therapy team at Airedale Hospital have been shortlisted for a prestigious national award for their innovative service offered UK-wide for patients who stammer.
The project, which has already won a Guardian Public Service Award, offers a specialist speech therapy service to adults across the UK via videolink to patients’ laptops, tablets and even mobile phones.
For patients it offers many advantages over traditional clinic-based therapy, e.g. no travel or parking costs and no need to take time off work. Many patients have had therapy in their workplace during working hours.
Airedale Hospital offers a stammering service to all local patients already but not all NHS Trusts do this and this is where the new UK-wide service comes in. None of those who signed up for the pilot could have accessed speech therapy without it and many reported they had been waiting years for some kind of help. For some of the patients, the experience has been truly life-changing.
One patient Alex (27) has said “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”.
The pilot was originally funded by an Innovating for Improvement award of £75,000 from the Health Foundation but now the team are hoping that with the different funding options on offer for patients, they can continue to develop the service nationally.
Stephanie Burgess, Speech and Language Therapist and Specialist in Stammering at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust says:
“I’m delighted that the team has been shortlisted for this very prestigious award. To have been recognised for our innovative use of telemedicine is wonderful, but more importantly, the publicity this will give us will hopefully enable us to get the word out more widely about our stammering therapy service.
We really want to be able to continue with it and to help many more people who stammer, who would otherwise be unable to get help.”
If you are over 18 and interested in accessing the service, there are various options:
- Request your GP to submit an Individual Funding Request to the local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) on your behalf if no stammering service for adults exists in your area.
- If stammering is affecting your ability to work you can self-refer to the access to work programme – a government scheme to help people with disabilities. They may provide funding for stammering therapy (workplace coaching) if you can demonstrate that your stammer makes it hard for you to do your job. Follow this link for further details: https://www.gov.uk/access-to-work.
- Request your employer to consider funding stammering therapy to support you in your work role. The Employers’ Stammering Network may be able to advise on the best way of approaching this.
- Self-fund the service yourself. This would cost in the region of £875 for 6 therapy sessions. The fees include all preparation and planning and a full written summary and plan from each session.