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In brief

In Brief...
In Brief is supported by

`In Brief is a new section of Speech & Language Therapy in Practice for 2009 suggested by readers to showcase short, practical ideas. One lucky contributor in each issue will receive 50 in vouchers from Speechmark, a company which publishes a wide range of practical resources for health and education professionals working with people of all ages (visit www.speechmark.net for more information). Brief items (up to 500 words) may include therapy or assessment tips or a description of a resource you have developed. It may also be a reflection on the best piece of advice I have been given, or the things I wish theyd told me at University. Although what you write will be substantially your own work, please acknowledge any influences. E-mail your entries to avrilnicoll@speechmag.com.

Network for Two heads better newbies than one?

As a newly qualified therapist, Kirsty Forde welcomes the support of her peers.
A network for newly qualified speech and language therapists in Tayside has recently been established. There are ten therapists in the network with length of clinical experience ranging from a couple of months up to two years. We agreed that therapists should stay in the network for as long as they feel they need the support or can offer support to the newer therapists in the network. There is a good mix of paediatric and adult therapists and we have had two successful meetings so far with three more planned for this year. The meetings provide informal opportunity for ongoing support with Flying Start (www. flyingstart.scot.nhs.uk/), information sharing and case discussions as well as providing us with a safe forum for asking questions we may be hesitant to ask more senior therapists. So far we have discussed the positive and negative aspects of our departmental inductions to NHS Tayside and our next meeting will be looking at how to access the e-libraryeasily. We also look forward to up-coming speakers who have very kindly agreed to share their clinical experience or specialist knowledge with us. We would be delighted if anyone feels they would like to come and speak at one of our meetings next year! If you would like to know more about the network or what we do in it, please get in touch. Kirsty Forde is a speech and language therapist working with adults with learning disabilities for NHS Tayside, e-mail kirstyforde@nhs.net.

Beth Brewster evaluates two therapist assessment clinics for two-year-olds.

In summer 2008 the paediatric department in Dundee was going through a period of change. We were looking to improve our client pathway and streamline our service. The aim was to ensure each client received the appropriate, timely input required from referral to discharge. We also aimed to improve the quality of the client experience. One area we felt required changing was our assessment of two-year-olds. Therapists often found it difficult to spend time with parents to get an in-depth case history while keeping an active two-year-old child occupied. This could make it difficult to reach a decision following a first appointment. We decided to trial two therapist assessment clinics for these young children in our community clinics. During this same period I became involved in a project for the Speech and Language Therapists Clinical Effectiveness Programme run by the Tayside Audit Resource Centre. The project I chose was to compare case histories for two-year-old clients taken during single therapist clinics with those taken during the two therapist clinics. Twenty points of information were taken to compare how much we learned from parents at initial contact. These ranged from finding out about pregnancy and the postnatal period, through early communication, to family circumstances at present and nursery placements. Feedback from therapists involved in the trial was positive. Most felt they were able to get a clearer insight into any difficulties the child may be presenting with. They also felt parents were able to discuss issues and to listen to advice given when not distracted by their child. Therapists also commented they had more quality time with the children to gauge their communication abilities. Evaluation of the results obtained from three community clinics confirms more information has been gained from parents at two therapist clinics. Although not all twenty points demonstrated an increase in the amount of information obtained, more information was obtained overall and more detailed information was recorded. Therapists have indicated they can make decisions about onward referral and how to proceed with care without the need for a further appointment. The results of the survey carried out for the project would appear to support therapists feelings that two therapist assessment clinics for two-year-olds are worthwhile in terms of providing appropriate, timely input for this client group. Beth Brewster is a speech and language therapist in Dundee with NHS Tayside, e-mail bethbrewster@ nhs.net.