Lockdown's impact on speech and language therapy

The latest report by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists shows the impact of lockdown on this vital therapy.

We asked the Parkinson’s community to share their experience with speech and language therapy over the last year, through a survey conducted by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists. We know that people’s Parkinson’s symptoms have been impacted by the lockdown from our own survey with Lancaster University.

The Royal College survey had 97 respondents in total. Of the survey respondents who were over 18, around a third of them live with Parkinson’s. This shows just how vital the therapy is for people living with the condition.

The survey found that 76% of all respondents thought speech and language therapy made their life better, and 29% said it made their carer’s life better.

Speech and language therapy during lockdown 

Respondents felt their speech and language therapy was impacted during lockdown:

  • 52% received less speech and language therapy during the first lockdown.
  • 44% did not get any speech and language therapy during lockdown. 
  • 33% did not receive the therapy in-person during lockdown.

However, many services continued during the lockdown, but may have been delivered differently:

  • 20% of all respondents liked receiving speech and language therapy on the phone. 60% found it OK. And 20% either did not like it or couldn't do it at all.
  • 57% of all respondents liked their speech language therapy on video. 32% found it OK. And 11% couldn't do it at all.
  • 33% of all respondents found it hard when their therapist had to wear a mask during speech and language therapy session.

Impact of lockdown

The survey also asked about the impact of lockdown on the respondents communication and swallowing: 

  • Almost 6 in 10 respondents shared having less speech and language therapy during the first lockdown made their mental health worse.
  • 5 in 10 respondents said it made their social life and friendships worse, and also made their home and domestic life worse.
  • 6 in 10 respondents said that having less speech and language therapy during lockdown made their family member or carer’s mental health and domestic life worse. 
  • 5 in 10 respondents noted that not having speech and language therapy also made their family member or carer’s social life and friendships worse.

Future access to speech and language therapy

Almost half of all respondents shared that they were worried about getting speech and language therapy help in the future.

Fiona Lindop, Clinical lead for therapy, UK Parkinson's Excellence Network commented:

"There has been a huge impact from the pandemic on both individuals with Parkinson’s and services offering therapies to help people manage their condition. 

"Some speech and language therapy services have had to focus solely on swallowing problems, leaving individuals with speech problems with no access to assessment, advice and intervention. It is vital that services for speech and language therapy for people with Parkinson’s are restored as soon as possible, with robust policies to protect access and delivery."

We know how valuable speech and language therapy is for people with Parkinson’s, so we’ll be supporting the Royal College’s letter to the Prime Minister calling for national and local recovery policies for speech and language services. 

Get involved

If you’d like to share your experience of accessing speech and language therapy services during the pandemic please email [email protected].

Find out more

If you have problems with your speech and communication, care for someone that does, or would just like to know more. Our speech and language therapy information offers guidance and advice for you.

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