Speech & Language Therapy

Level 5

  • Telephone: 01273 696955 Extension 2527, 2526
  • Specialist Speech and Language Therapist: Rachelle Quaid
  • Specialist Speech and Language Therapist: Amanda Harvey

The Speech and Language Therapy Department provides assessment and management of moderate to severe feeding difficulties in babies, infants, and children.

The aims of our service are:

  • To provide the highest possible standards of care for babies, infants and children with feeding difficulties, alongside their families.
  • To liaise closely with other departments, including dietetics, physiotherapy and medical staff, to maximise each child’s feeding safety and potential for feeding.
  • To strive to improve the quality and safety of care through clinical governance, education and multidisciplinary working.
  • To provide the highest possible standards of training for other speech and language therapists, medical staff, post and undergraduate students.
Inpatient Services

The Trevor Mann Baby Unit: The speech and language therapy time allocated to this area is 14 hours per week. The department provides assessment and management of feeding difficulties caused by a wide range of factors, including prematurity, birth trauma, brain damage, and generalised feeding difficulties.

We are also involved with infants who cannot be fed orally while waiting for, or recovering from, complex surgery (eg gastroschisis). Babies are only followed up on discharge from the unit if they are transferred to the Alex or are seen as outpatients. No cover is available for the Princess Royal Hospital.

The Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital: Seven hours per week are allocated to this area. The service offers assessment and management of feeding difficulties from a wide range of etiologies, and often helps with diagnosis of patients. A weekly nutrition round is attended as part of the inpatient service.

The department is heavily involved in the neurodevelopmental team, which provides many recommendations to staff and parents around infant feeding and early neonatal development. The department is also a source of advice and support for therapists from neighbouring trusts.

Outpatient Clinics Held By The Department

Outpatient feeding clinic: This clinic is held two to three times a week for babies, infants and children with moderate to severe feeding difficulties. Referrals must be within the Brighton and Hove catchment area, including postcodes BN1, BN2 (excluding BN2 8DB), BN3 and BN41. Due to high demand on the service, limitations are placed on the type of referral accepted. Being a fussy eater or having trouble chewing lumps does not constitute a moderate or severe feeding problem. To qualify for referral, a child will have some or all of the following:

  • a risk of aspiration (food or drink going down the wrong way)
  • significant problems regarding weight gain
  • continual ill health
  • a history of choking on food/fluids
  • a diagnosis predisposing them to feeding difficulties, e.g cerebral palsy

Joint speech and language/dietetic clinic: This is held once a month for babies, infants and children within the Brighton and Hove catchment area. Most referrals tend to be discharged inpatients, and children dependent on tube feeding for the majority of their nutrition. By combining the dietetic and speech therapy service, we are able to maximise the child’s potential for growth and oral feeding while reducing the number of appointments the chid needs to attend.

Videofluoroscopy (swallow x-ray): This is held twice a month, and is open to referrals from anywhere. All referrals are seen in the pre-videofluoroscopy clinic to assess suitability and format for the assessment. Follow-up after the x-ray is only offered to those children within the Brighton and Hove catchment area.

Nutrition round: This clinic is held weekly, usually on the wards but also in the Outpatients Department. The gastroenterology team leads it.

Bronchopulmonarydysplasia clinic: This multidisciplinary clinic is held approximately every six weeks for those babies discharged from the Trevor Mann Baby Unit with a home oxygen requirement. These infants are often born extremely prematurely, and tend to have ongoing feeding difficulties. The clinic carries out assessment and management of feeding difficulties.

Hillside clinic: This is held once a term at Hillside School for pupils with moderate to severe feeding difficulties.

Consultation clinics: These clinics are offered to other speech and language therapists who have children on their caseload with feeding difficulties which are not severe enough to meet the children’s hospital criteria. One-off joint appointments are offered, with recommendations made for the local therapist.

Phone Advice: This is offered to GPs, health visitors, play workers etc who require advice for mild feeding difficulties (e.g. fussy eaters, refusing lumpy foods), but do not meet the Alex criteria.

Teaching

The department regularly provides teaching regarding feeding difficulties to a wide range of professionals and students. This includes:

  • Post-graduate medical school lectures
  • Post-graduate advanced neonatal practitioner lectures
  • Teaching to local therapists and therapists from neighbouring trusts
  • Induction/in-service lectures to medical and nursing staff
  • Teaching on the Baby Friendly Initiative study days

Useful Links

Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists