Embracing Technology in Speech & Language Therapy
The Growing Use of iPads in Our Speech Therapy Department
Hi. My name’s Kathy Cann. I work as Clinical Lead for Communication in County Durham and Darlington NHS Trust in the UK and run the Aphasia Friendly Resources website. We’ve really tried to embrace the growth of technology in our Speech and Language Therapy department and all the opportunities it presents for supporting communication impairments.
Over the past few years, we have experienced a dramatic growth in our use of iPads across the department. We have a core of demo iPads available across the Trust from acute through to community therapists. These are used for assessment and demonstration.
Patients who are able to benefit from using the iPad are then either loaned one for the short-term, or purchased one for longer term use. iPads may be used for therapy (e.g. impairment based apps such as those by Aptus, Neuro Hero and Tactus Therapy) or alternative/ augmentative communication (e.g. Conversation Paceboard, Proloquo4Text, Predictable).
The Benefits of In-built iPads Apps & Features
More recently we have explored how features integral to tablets can be used to support communication. We think of tablets as holistic communication devices not just another platform on which to run therapy. For example FaceTime, Instagram, and Facebook are great ways of communicating non-verbally. Photos, videos, alarms and reminders can be used to support memory.
In-built iPad Accessibility features such as Speak Selection and the magnifier/zoom function can be used to support reading. The multi-functional nature in which tablet technology can reduce the impact of communication impairment is really powerful. Promoting and empowering patients and their conversational partners to access this should be an integral part of a speech and language therapist’s skill set.
The Challenges of Implementing Technology in the Workplace
There have been a number of challenges along the way including infection control issues, information governance and IT, Wi-Fi access. Addressing these has helped County Durham and Darlington NHS Trust to create robust procedures for the use of their tablets within the NHS.