The Speech Language Department (SLD) was established in 1981. The department offers services in Malta and Gozo under the auspices of Primary Health Care.
The main philosophy behind the vision and mission of the SLD is providing a quality service to our clients who are the central focus of all our services. This philosophy motivates the development of a quality service to ensure the department’s commitment in maintaining best levels of a strong customer service within a safe environment and continual improvement.
The SLD strives for excellence in prevention, identification and intervention of communication, voice and swallowing disorders.
The mission of the SLD is to assess and identify the communication and swallowing difficulties of service users in order to design, implement, monitor and evaluate intervention programmes. Intervention is evidence-based, timely and realistic, and this in turn maximises the communication abilities of our clients. The department is also dedicated to empower, educate and support the public and other health professionals through awareness and prevention programmes.
Our role includes both the care of the individual and the education of the community. The Speech Language Pathologist assesses, treats and helps prevent speech, language and swallowing difficulties caused by injury, disability or illness in individuals of all ages. The SLP offers guidance, diagnostic assessments, intervention, support and information for both clients and their carers and recommends and encourages changes which could result in more effective intervention for our clients.
Prevention and awareness programmes aim to optimise environmental conditions, improve access to the service, and enable service users.
Abiding by the code of ethics and operating within the legal framework, the department ensures the safeguarding of the public and professionals.
To engage in collaborative practises across disciplines to promote a holistic and patient-centred approach to care.
The department ensures that fully qualified members of staff are employed to work in their respective roles. The department also promotes and encourages continued professional development to sustain a high quality service.
The department operates an open referral system, which allows the general public to have the best possible access to services delivered. Referral can be made by contacting the Speech Language Department or any other outlet of service provision. Referrals to other professionals are also made directly by the Speech Language Pathologists.
The aim of the service is to provide the most appropriate, effective, therapeutic and rehabilitative intervention to meet the communication and/or swallowing needs of our clients. This is achieved through the appropriate assessment of the clients’ communication and swallowing/feeding abilities; obtaining an accurate differential diagnosis and providing intervention directly (with the client individually or in groups) and indirectly through members of the interdisciplinary team, family and carers.
Services in the communityare offered from all health centres and various district clinics to ensure service user access. Domiciliary visits are organised to service users who have mobility difficulties.
Speech language services are offered in hospitalswhere SLPs are committed to help people to communicate to the best of their abilities and swallow safely. Intervention in an interdisciplinary team aims to maximise the communication potential of their service users by identifying, modifying and enriching their communicative environment. Services are also provided in long stay institutions & elderly homes.
For school aged children, intervention may be provided in mainstream schools and resource centres if closer liaison with educators is warranted. This makes it possible to provide intervention for children as an integral part of their school life in such a way as to enable educators to incorporate the aims of the communication and language intervention within the curriculum. Services are also provided in resource centres, where SLPs work with students with a variety of special educational needs. The service is delivered within the schools themselves and in close collaboration with the school staff.
The Speech-Language Pathologist liaises with all relevant agencies, relatives and carers of the patient to ensure continuity of care and treatment. Frequency of therapy and the discharge process are determined by the assessment, prognosis and outcome of intervention. This is discussed with the patient, family, carers and the multidisciplinary team.
Awareness and prevention programmesare also delivered targeting empowerment, education and support of our service users, carers and other professionals.
Cases may include:
Speech and language delay and impairments;
Problems in articulation, phonology and grammar;
Communication problems associated with hearing and sensory impairments, learning disability and autism spectrum disorder;
Reading and writing problems related to specific learning difficulties;
Voice disorders including dysphonia and laryngectomy;
Neurological conditions (e.g. head injuries, stroke, progressive diseases);
Swallowing and feeding difficulties.