New paediatric speech and language therapy service offered at Pennine Acute Trust

Paediatric therapy
New paediatric speech and language therapy service offered at Pennine Acute Trust
17 December 2015

MORE timely treatment will now be offered to children at The Royal Oldham and North Manchester General Hospitals, who experience feeding, swallowing and communication problems.

The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust which runs the hospitals, along with Fairfield General Hospital, Rochdale Infirmary and community services, has appointed its first paediatric speech and language therapist.

Barbara Rossington started in her new role after spending 30 years working as a speech and language therapist with babies and children with feeding difficulties and complex needs in the Bury area.

She will be providing inpatient support to the paediatric wards and neonatal units at The Royal Oldham Hospital and North Manchester General Hospital.

Barbara said: “It is an exciting challenge setting up a new paediatric speech and language therapy service.  The service was previously bought in from another Trust on a cost per case basis and so this meant that assessment, advice and review of the individual children were not always as timely as they could be.  Children and babies often had to wait for the care they needed to be delivered once they had been discharged back into community services.”

Children and babies who experience communication, feeding and swallowing problems will now be assessed by Barbara in hospital and given advice as to how they can move on from the problem.  She will also share her skills by running training sessions for staff and families around the issues.

Barbara continued: “Children can have communication difficulties for a range of developmental and acquired reasons.  These can include difficulties understanding language or expressing themselves. Being able to communicate with others is a basic human right. How would you feel if you couldn’t communicate with your loved ones such as asking for a hug or saying I love you?”

In helping the children, Barbara will aim to maximise each child’s individual communicative potential.  This may involve helping them through developmental stages by supporting them using non-verbal support such as signs, symbols and technology, or by improving their communicative environment so they are more likely to initiate interaction and be understood by those around them.

Barbara added: “Feeding and swallowing is a really difficult skill that involves lots of muscles and nerves working in synchrony. Things can easily go wrong as I am sure we’ve all experienced food ‘going down the wrong way’.  For children with feeding and swallowing problems this can happen more frequently. I therefore have to consider the risks in their skill set and work out how to assist the child and family moving forward.”

Mum Natalie and baby Olivia from Oldham have recently experienced Barbara’s help and support when Olivia was having problems feeding.  She was born at 24 weeks and Barbara is working with them to encourage oral feeding so that Olivia can suck her feeding bottle.  Natalie said: “Barbara gave us some really useful tips to help with Olivia’s feeding technique and she is now a lot happier feeding from her bottle.”

Sue McCormick, professional manager, speech and language therapy at Pennine Acute Trust, said: “It’s fantastic that The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust realised that in order to deliver the best possible outcomes for their babies, children and their families that they needed to have their own paediatric speech and language therapy service.”