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Adult Tracheostomy Communication Advice Sheet

Patient information A-Z

Who is the leaflet for?

This leaflet is for patients with a tracheostomy. It aims to help guide and support communication for them and those around them.

How does a tracheostomy effect communication?

When someone has a cuffed tracheostomy tube in place they breathe through the tube in their neck rather than their nose and mouth. Therefore, when the cuff is inflated, air does not pass through the vocal cords so they cannot vibrate. This means that they cannot create the sounds needed for verbal speech.

Diagram showing breathing without tracheostomy, and breathing with a cuffed tracheostomy

Things you can do to help me communicate:

  • Ask yes / no questions
  • Ask questions that require short, simple answers
  • Give me options to choose from
  • Point to options on an alphabet chart, word list or list of phrases and see if I can indicate when you have pointed to the one I want to say

Encourage me to:

  • Mouth what I want to say
  • Try writing it down
  • Try writing what I am saying in the air
  • Use gesture
  • Point to letters on an alphabet chart
  • Draw what I am trying to say
  • Point to yes/no on a chart

Please take into account:

  • Do I need to wear glasses and / or a hearing aid?
  • Do I have any other language or cognitive impairments that may make it harder for me to communicate? For example, if I have had a stroke or brain injury
  • Do I have any physical disabilities that may affect my ability to carry out these strategies?

If you have any questions please contact Speech and Language Therapy on extension 216200.

You can refer patients to Speech and Language Therapy via Web OCS.

We are smoke-free

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

Other formats

Help accessing this information in other formats is available. To find out more about the services we provide, please visit our patient information help page (see link below) or telephone 01223 256998.

Contact us

Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151