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Students help patients with speech and language at new community centre

A dementia patient has thanked De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) students for finding new ways for him to communicate during a work placement.

Paul Gill is one of the dozens of people who visit and are supported by DMU’s Speech and Language Therapy Centre, which was officially opened this week.


The centre is co-run between DMU and the Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust (LPT) and gives students studying Speech and Language Therapy a chance to work in the community, helping patients and using skills learned in the classroom.

Two speech and language therapist have been seconded from LPT to support the students on their placements.

Since March 2016, 23 students have provided therapy to 19 people with dementia and their carers, and also worked with 25 children across three pre-school settings identified as having delayed language skills and other speech and language needs.


Mr Gill – diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia – said he had been helped by Rosie Davies, a fourth year Speech and Language Therapy student on a placement at the centre.

He said: “One of the things that happens with my condition is a decline in vocabulary and speech does become more and more difficult over time.

“We had weekly sessions over six weeks with Rosie, who showed how to ask a partner for help in finding a specific word, so we have a list of suggestions on how to find the right word, how to describe it, how to search for it.

“At each and every visit there was something that I just hadn’t thought of which was useful.

“Rosie was actually only a student, but I could easily imagine her in a clinical setting where she would have full authority because that’s what she came across to me as – somebody who knew exactly what she was talking about and had the right techniques and skills.”

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The centre, housed at the Leicester Centre for Integrated Living in Andrewes Street, Leicester was conceived in March 2016 as a partnership with the Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust.

The idea was to create a service which could provide DMU students with valuable placements, using skills they had learned on their course to help patients throughout the community.


Student Rosie Davies said: “I was working with people with dementia, which has a big impact on speech and language, creating a risk of isolation.

“We wanted to build relationships with say the husband and wife to maintain positive relationships.

“It felt really good to help and we got loads of really good feedback about the positive impact we were making with the families and the carers. It’s an experience that I can take forward when I’m applying for jobs.”

Nicola Lawtie, senior lecturer in Speech and Language Therapy at DMU said: “The SALT Centre has been on the cards for quite a long time but we’ve been lucky enough to actually be able to develop the Centre so we’re all very excited.

“It’s great for the students but it’s also great for the local community and being able to enhance the speech therapy services available by providing even more.”  

Deanne Rennie, speech and language therapy clinical lead for families young people and children’s services at Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, said: “

“The Speech and Language Therapy Centre is so exciting because it is equipping students not just with a qualification, but with the real-life skills and experience of evidence-based practice that they will need for the workplace.”

Professor Adrian Childs, chief nurse and deputy chief executive, Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, said: “These placements provide a great opportunity for speech and language therapy students to experience neighbourhood working right in the heart of the community.” 

Posted on Friday 3rd March 2017

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