Is private (also known as Independent) Speech and Language Therapy (SLT or SaLT) the right choice for you and your family? This blog is to give you more information about the reasons that people seek out private Therapy, and the ways it can work for you and your child, both instead of and alongside NHS Therapy.
Some common reasons to seek out private Therapy are:
You are on a waiting list for NHS SaLT assessment
NHS Speech and Language Therapy Departments often have long waiting lists for a first appointment. We know that the earlier intervention happens, the more impact we can have on children's lives.
Many families choose to access private SaLT whilst they wait for NHS servies. You do not need to be concerned that your private Speech Therapist will expect you to buy their services for ever! The beauty of private Therapy is that it can meet needs over different timeframes for your child, as and when you need it. You may choose to take up private Therapy until NHS Therapy is available, and then to move completely over to NHS provision, or you may choose to run your private Therapy alongside your NHS provision.
You have been seen by the NHS but are waiting on more specialist Therapy assessment
For the most part, if your child has been referred into NHS services, they will usually have an assessment in a general Speech Therapy clinic in the first instance. Many children will remain in these parts of NHS services. But where your child's needs are more specialist e.g. they may receive an Autism diagnosis, they have an emerging developmental or learning condition, or longer-term language disorder is suspected, the result of initial assessment will often be referral on to a more specialist part of the Speech Therapy team. This can result in a second wait for services, with the most complex children waiting the longest time. This is a common time for Families to seek out private Therapy, especially if that private Therapist has specialist skills in the specific areas of difficulty that are suspected. Again, this may happen just whilst you wait for a more specialist Therapist, or continue alongside NHS Therapy provision.
You are receiving NHS Therapy but would like to supplement it
NHS Therapy is often provided in packages that can be relatively inflexible, owing to services trying to meet the needs of as many children as possible within their capacity. This may mean, for example, that your child receives a group intervention of a set number of weeks. You may wish to supplement NHS Therapy packages with services that can be more tailored to your child's specific needs.
You need Therapy that is more flexible to your family's needs
Private Therapists may be able to offer more flexibility in terms of where, when and how Therapy is delivered. For example, they may be able to offer home visits or school visits where this is not an option within the NHS services. Or they may be able to offer Saturday morning appointments.
You would like you or your child to have more direct access to a Speech and Language Therapist
Many NHS SaLT services deliver interventions around a model of target-setting, training school staff to deliver interventions and then periodically reviewing them. Children receive relatively little direct Therapy with a Speech and Language Therapist in this model. It is also common in services using this model that Parents do not have much time with the Therapist to understand their child's needs or to understand how they can help them at home. This can be disempowering for Parents and means that children are missing out on opportunities to practise skills at home. Private Therapy can provide the option for more direct access to a Speech and Language Therapist both for the child and for the Family.
Your child has identified needs, but does not meet the criteria for NHS provision
Increasingly, the NHS can only meet the needs of specific groups of children, even where it has been established that a child is having difficulties. This is a response to services having to try and meet a wide range of needs with insufficient capacity.
It is important not to assume that, just because a child has been discharged from a Therapy service, that there is no more that can be done to support them. NHS Therapists may have to discharge children because of their service criteria.
It is at this point that many Families and School opt to buy in private Therapy input to continue to support their child's potential and access to education.
You want to feel more in control of your Therapy experience
NHS Therapy services may not always offer you the experience you would wish for in terms of which Therapist you work with, what their skills are, and what Therapy approaches are on offer.
In looking for a private Therapist, you can seek out one who is a good fit for your Family in terms of temperament and approach, as well as in their specific skillset, including training in specific Therapy approaches that you would like to explore.
Therapy is always built on a relationship between the Therapist, the child and the adults that surround the child, in your Family or educational setting. Being in control of who you choose to bring into your child's lie to work with them may allow for more successful outcomes.
If you would like to discuss private Speech and Language Therapy for your child, drop me a line at [email protected] to book a no obligation and pressure-free phone call. I am based in Herefordshire and offer face-to-face services in the county and surrounding areas. Online Therapy is also available both in my local area and nationally.
If you are not ready to talk at the moment, but just want to keep in touch, why not sign up for my newsletter, follow me on social media, join my Facebook group or take a look at the free resources on my website