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Speech and language therapy

Our services A-Z

The speech and language department is comprised of multiple teams who see adults and children with a range of communication and swallowing difficulties.

Adult acute speech and language therapy

The role of speech and language therapists in the acute setting is to assess and manage communication and swallowing difficulties (dysphagia) which may arise due to underlying medical conditions, post-surgery or the acute onset of illnesses.

The adult acute speech and language therapy team work as part of a multi-disciplinary team across a number of wards in the hospital, such as geriatric medicine, neurosurgery and intensive care to provide functional swallowing and communication goals and advice. This may include modifying the textures of food and drink to make them easier to swallow or working alongside other medical professions to provide recommendations if a patient cannot safely swallow food and drink.

We also provide advice and recommendations for supporting communication in the ward environment.  We are able to carry out specialised instrumental swallow assessments such as videofluoroscopy swallowing study (VFSS) and fibreoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES) and also contribute to the Motor Neurone disease outpatient clinic.

In addition to this, we also provide education and training to other medical professions and regularly take on students from UEA, Colchester and London.

Paediatric speech and language team

We provide a specialist inpatient service for babies, children and young people up to the age of 16. We offer assessments, diagnosis and therapy interventions to children with speech, language and communication difficulties as well as eating, drinking and swallowing problems. We work across the paediatric wards C2, C3, D2, F3, PICU and NICU.

We offer training to both staff and families within the hospital, to enable them to best support the children they are caring for.  We work closely with members of the multidisciplinary team including doctors, nurses and other therapists, in order to provide the highest quality and individualised care for patients.  We work in conjunction with local speech and language therapy teams across East Anglia, to facilitate a supported discharge and transition back home. 

There are also a number of outpatient paediatric speech and language therapy services (marked * below), which are based at Addenbrooke’s hospital.

The specialist services provided by our team consist of:

  • Neonatal intensive care - supporting developmental care and early communication skills, as well as providing assessment and intervention for babies with feeding difficulties
  • Paediatric intensive care - provides specialist intervention to children on the intensive care unit.
  • Oncology - supporting children at Addenbrooke’s with cancer
  • Brainbow* - charity funded service supporting children across East Anglia with brain tumours, both in hospital and as outpatients
  • Long term ventilation clinic* - part of the multidisciplinary team who provide outpatient care for children with chronic airway difficulties requiring ventilation
  • Emmeline centre for hearing implants*- supporting children and adults who have communication difficulties resulting from hearing loss
  • Cleft lip and palate* - service run by the regional Cleft.NetEast group based at Addenbrooke’s hospital.
  • Gastroenterology service* - multidisciplinary service for children with complex eating and drinking difficulties.  This includes the outpatient programme ‘TASTE’ (treatment and support for tricky eaters)
  • Videofluoroscopy * - monthly clinic run in conjunction with the consultant paediatric radiologist, to assess a child’s swallow function using X-ray.

Speech therapy (adult head and neck / ear, nose and throat team)

We offer assessments, therapy and support for communication, voice and swallowing difficulties for all adults diagnosed with head and neck cancer and with benign voice problems. 

We see patients prior to and after their cancer treatment working closely as part of a multidisciplinary team alongside specialist dieticians and nurses to help patients recover and rehabilitate. The team is able to offer objective swallowing assessments using both x-ray (videofluoroscopy) and fibreoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing assessments (known as FEES). These are available for inpatients and outpatients as clinically indicated. We provide a daily valve changing service for our laryngectomy patients (through prior arrangement).  We can also deliver specialist training for both acute and community staff involved with laryngectomy care and voice problems.

We hold a stock of equipment which can be loaned to patients with voice and communication difficulties.  Our team cover services at Addenbrooke's hospital and also provide a service at Peterborough city hospital (for inpatient and outpatients with a diagnosis of head and neck cancer).

Speech therapy (adult stroke and rehabilitation team)

We deliver services to patients on the acute stroke unit (R2), the Lewin stroke and rehabilitation unit, J2 (rapid access to acute rehabilitation), and patients who are on the trauma pathway throughout the hospital.

We see patients with communication, cognitive (thinking) and swallowing problems arising from stroke, brain injury, spinal injury and trauma. Working closely with our multi-disciplinary colleagues including occupational therapy, neurologic music therapy, physiotherapy and psychology, we assess patients and offer therapy interventions to meet patients’ goals. This might include working towards being able to eat and drink orally where there are swallowing problems. Patients have access to instrumental assessment such as videofluoroscopy swallowing study (VFSS) and fibreoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES), where needed.

Communication interventions might include working on key words to enable a person to be able to express their basic needs, use of pictorial communication aids, or specific language therapy targeting sentence production, for example. We work with staff and families to ensure communication is supported in the best way for each patient, including making adjustments to our own communication and encouraging use of strategies to meet a goal to modify communication style, such as pacing speech to help intelligibility, or keeping on track in conversation.

Onward referrals to specialist rehabilitation centres or local services are made on discharge, as indicated. We are also able to offer a limited number of follow-up appointments to people leaving hospital with on-going communication therapy needs, in our Aphasia clinic.

Finding us

We are located on level 2, close to the Lewin unit and Jubilee gardens.