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Speech and language therapy techniques in end-of-life care
  1. Keith Newman, Senior Speech and Language Therapist
  1. Bromley Primary Care Trust and St Christopher’s Hospice, London. Emails: k.newman@stchristophers.org.uk or keith. newman{at}bromleyhospitals.nhs.uk

Abstract

The role of rehabilitation therapies in palliative and end-of-life care is gaining increasing recognition. At present, there are few speech and language therapists (SLTs) within multidisciplinary, palliative care teams in the UK, although the number is increasing. SLTs are specialists in assessing, diagnosing and supporting patients with communication needs and swallowing difficulties. The maintenance of effective communication with patients and their carers is central to end-of-life decisions. This article uses a case scenario to describe the role of the SLT in the rehabilitation of patients within the palliative and end-of-life care context. It illustrates how SLTs can support nurses and other health professionals in improving the quality of life of patients with communication and swallowing problems at the end of life. It highlights techniques associated with speech and language therapy practice in order to help educate nurses with regard to supporting patients with swallowing and communication difficulties. A glossary of key terms used within the article is provided. Conflicts of interest: none

  • Communication disorders
  • Dysphagia
  • Palliative and end-of-life care
  • Speech and language therapy
  • Swallowing difficulties

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