RCSLT Calls for a 'Communication Lifeline' for stroke survivors

Survey results launched today reveal that 90% of stroke survivors believe that communication difficulties following their stroke have impacted hugely on their lives and that less people are now receiving speech and language therapy after a stroke, than in 2008.

The figures were revealed at a seminar on ‘Reshaping Stroke Services’ which was hosted by The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists and The Stroke Association. An analysis of the survey was carried out by Ulster University and the results were presented to delegates today.

Speech & Language Therapist Jennifer Handforth at the RSCLT event in Belfast 

Speech & Language Therapist Jennifer Handforth at the RSCLT event in Belfast 

One third of people already receiving services also believed that they should receive more speech and language therapy to help them overcome the traumatic experience of losing the most basic skills of swallowing and speaking.

Alison McCullough MBE, RCSLT Head of Northern Ireland Office said:

“This survey once again demonstrates how crucial speech and language therapy is in supporting the recovery and rehabilitation of stroke survivors who may be having difficulty communicating or swallowing. It is worrying to see that some stroke survivors are still not receiving the amount of therapy that they need, with some saying they are not receiving any provision at all.

“We are calling for a Communication Lifeline to form a core part of stroke aftercare to ensure that stroke survivors have their communication assessed within 72 hours so that they can be given a means of communicating even at a basic level. We would also urge commissioners to ensure that the provision of specialist speech and language therapy is available throughout Northern Ireland.


Barry Macaulay, Chief Executive of the Stroke Association said:

“Stroke survivors tell us time and again how important speech and language therapy is to their recovery. The inability to communicate basic needs can be terrifying for survivors and it is essential that speech and language therapy commences in the immediate aftermath of a stroke and continues to be provided in the community on a longer-term basis to enable greater independence and well-being.                       

“This improves positive outcomes and empowers stroke survivors to communicate their most basic needs to carers and close family members right from the beginning."

“We support RCSLT’s call for a Communication Lifeline as this would ensure a uniform approach to stroke care across Northern Ireland.”