Public Health Scotland has published research findings on the impact of public health measures during the pandemic on speech, language and communication (SLC) development of children and young people.
The report supports a whole system approach to supporting children and young people’s SLC development. It recommends that a national action plan is developed, taking a public health approach to support children and young people’s SLC development across the life course, so that:
- Children and young people’s SLC development is seen as a public health issue.
- A Scottish Government cross-directorate working group, with an SLT lead and representatives from health, education, the third sector, justice and employment sectors, is established.
- National and local funding mechanisms for SLT services are simplified, so that local resources are sustainable and equitable.
- A nationally agreed set of resources and tools to support the early identification of speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) are developed.
- Shared outcomes are developed that the whole system is accountable for
The report also recommends that an ongoing workforce strategy is developed, so that:
- SLT services are adequately staffed, and the workforce is resourced to meet the SLCN of their local children and young people population.
- Leadership competencies are enhanced to ensure local leaders have the skills, knowledge and support to facilitate a cross-boundary, whole system change.
- All those working with children and families, such as health visitors, family nurses, early years practitioners and teachers, have the knowledge, skills and confidence to promote SLC development, the capacity to identify SLCN, using standardised objective, age-appropriate measurement tools and, where appropriate, seek support from SLT services.
- All those working with children and families have the knowledge, skills and confidence to help parents and carers support their child’s communication and language development and to recognise when their child may have an SLCN.
On the situation in Scotland, it notes that Speech and Language Therapists (SLT) services continued to be disrupted even after the pandemic, due to infection prevention and control measures.