Early Input for Dementia by Speech and Language Therapy

What was the issue you were addressing or working on?

This Example of Practice is a case study which highlights the use of additional AHP support which was provided to community service users through the use of Change Fund resources.

Service user was referred to speech and language therapy by her GP.  She had been experiencing significant word-finding difficulties and was worried about her memory. Previously service user would have waited a lengthy period for assessment which would have required out patient assessment.

What you did?

Service user (Muriel) visited at home for an initial interview and offered 2 further home visits to fully assess her language and a further appointment to discuss the results and prepare written advice and potential strategies. Language testing proved extremely challenging for her and she scored below normal limits on every test tried.  Her husband was struggling to accept that his wife’s difficulties were around memory and thinking skills and GP had re-referred to clinical psychologist and consent to access information was agreed. A personalised communication advice sheet was prepared or Muriel’s husband targeting successfully used facilitation skills to put her at ease and to improve her communication environment.  In addition options around memory aids at home (a phone log, calendar, labelled photo album of recent events for Muriel’s handbag as a conversation tool) were offered.  Contacted was made with the psychologist and the developing role of the SLT service in communication support in dementia explained.  Assessment findings were shared (that this lady required cognitive testing to see where her language fitted within the cognitive profile). A number of weeks later, the psychologist telephoned to confirm that she had diagnosed Muriel with Alzheimer’s Disease.  Muriel will access the post diagnostic support pathway and her future needs will be anticipated and supported by the Community mental Health Team team.

What were the outcomes - benefits or otherwise?

Previously S&LT would not have been involved in the community with someone experiencing these difficulties so access to service has been a significant step forward.

The psychologist had not worked closely with SLT services before and commented that she had found it a useful and meaningful experience that she wished to repeat.  Similarly, the service user and her husband had provided the psychologist with positive feedback around the SLT experience.  They described the support and help they had received in our sessions had a positive impact on their understanding and acceptance of Muriel’s condition following her diagnosis.

Contacts - to find out more

Lesley Cassidy, lcassidy@nhs.net 01382426085