Speech Pathology Week is held every year at the end of August and seeks to increase awareness of communication disability and the role Speech Pathologists play in ensuring the 1.2 million Australians who have a communication disability can communicate with confidence1. At Home Care Assistance we are also eager to shed a light on communication disability as 64% of Australians with this condition are over the age of 65 years2.
As people age your voice, speech, language, memory, and ability to swallow naturally changes. It is estimated that in Australia, one in seven people with a communication disability need formal assistance with communication. However, half of all people who need this formal assistance with communication, are untreated2. The good news is, through the support of a Speech Pathologist, communication disorders can be treated.
Speech Pathologists are university trained professionals who study, diagnose, and treat communication disorders. For many people they associate Speech Pathologists as a profession that supports children to help put words together and be understood, as well as understand instructions and meanings. This is true, but Speech Pathologists also work with people across all ages and lifespans. From working with adults who have difficulty communicating due to; developmental delays, stroke, brain injuries, intellectual or learning disabilities, dementia, hearing loss, as well as other problems that can affect speech and language. People who also have challenges swallowing food and drinks safely can also be helped by a Speech Pathologist.
Speech Pathologists practice in a wide range of settings from; hospitals, aged care, rehabilitation centres, community health centres, private practice, and mental health. Many Speech Pathologists specialise in complex needs or specialist intervention services for people with disabilities.
Examples of when Speech Pathologists work with adults with communication problems include:
- Working with someone who constantly loses their voice to help them use it more effectively.
- Working with someone who has experienced a severe brain injury to speak clearly again.
- Helping a person with dementia to communicate to family and carers.
- Working with someone who has had a stroke to regain communication skills.
- Provide communication strategies for a person with a disability who cannot communicate verbally.
- Teaching someone to swallow safely and without choking following a stroke or brain injury.
- Assisting an adult who has difficulties reading.
Speech Pathologists work frequently with older Australians to help improve their communication and swallowing abilities to increase independence, quality of life and participation in society. Speech pathology services may include assessment, individual and/ or group therapy, counselling, and education. Where a swallowing disorder is present and requires treatment, an interprofessional team will be involved working closely with a Speech Pathologist.
The below practical advice and tips can help ensure you feel confident communicating with someone with a communication disability, but also so they feel assured and supported.
- Always be respectful when speaking with someone who has a communication disability.
- Speak as you normally would, there is no need to speak louder or slow your speech.
- Ask the person with the communication disability what will help them with communication.
- Be considerate of location by avoiding loud situations where possible.
- Listen carefully.
- Be patient especially if you don’t understand the intended message to start with, let them know you are having difficulty.
- Allow enough time for the person to respond.
- If you’re continuing to find it difficult to understand, try saying it in a different way or by asking yes or no questions.
- Understand there are many ways to communicate including body language, eye contact, smile and touch.
- Watch for non-verbal cues during conversation.
At Home Care Assistance, our experienced Care Workers can help you or your loved one communicate with confidence to increase independence and social engagement ties. Our assessment team and expert Care Workers know what to look out for to ensure prompt attention and referral to the right service, many of whom can also provide in-home health care to make it even easier to access. Our Care Workers can also assist with transportation to and from Speech Pathology appointments.
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As a leading age care provider, Home Care Assistance offers tailored in-home care services for older Australians, enabling them to live happier and healthier lives in the comfort of their own homes.
We offer private and government subsidised Care Packages and have office locations that are a registered NDIS provider. Our Care Workers undergo extensive training in order to deliver unmatched in-home aged care services where people can continue ageing in place. We are proud ambassadors of the My Aged Care government funded aged care program, enabling Australians to successfully navigate the process and gain approval for in-home care support packages. Home Care Assistance offers hourly care, specialised care, Alzheimer’s and Dementia care, hospital to home care, and 24 hour in home care.