Regional Communication Aid Service (RCAS)

Helping people to improve communication in daily life - using their own abilities and new technology to build a better ‘total communication’ system with communication aids.

This leaflet may not be reproduced in whole or in part, without the permission of Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust

  • Introduction

    This leaflet will provide you with information about the service. If you are not sure about anything in this leaflet, please ask a member of staff.

  • What is the Regional Communication Aid Service?

    The Regional Communication Aid Service is a specialised service working in the field of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). AAC includes a wide range of strategies and systems that are used alongside or instead of spoken communication.

    The service helps people with severe or complex communication difficulties using technology such as electronic communication aids. We provide assessments, advice, loans of equipment and training.

    The service is based at Walkergate Park, Centre for Neuro-rehabilitation and Neuro-psychiatry, Newcastle upon Tyne.

  • Who is it for?

    The service is for people of all ages who have severe or complex communication difficulties. These communication difficulties are usually associated with a range of physical, cognitive, learning or sensory difficulties.

    We have referral criteria which states that you will have a clear difference between your level of understanding and ability to speak. You must be able to understand the purpose of a communication aid and be capable of learning and remembering how to use the communication aid.

  • What do we offer?

    The team offers:
    • Communication aid assessments, jointly working with your local team such as your local speech and language therapist.
    • Long term loans of communication aids including technical support and repairs.
    • Specialist advice and training to you, your family and professionals on Augmentative and Alternative Communication.

  • What happens when I attend my first appointment?

    In many cases, the first appointment will take place over a video call. This helps us to find out more information so that we can begin to identify the best communication aid solutions for you.

    We will then visit you in a suitable location such as your home, school or hospital. You will be visited by one or two members of the assessment team. The team includes professionals who have specialised knowledge and skills in this area and includes speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, clinical scientists and clinical technologists.

    The assessment may include other people, such as your family, carers, relatives, teachers or health care professionals.

    The aim of the assessment is to find the best communication aid system for you. We will consider your communication skills and take into account any difficulties. We will talk to you about what you are hoping a communication aid will help you with and you will be included in all decisions.

  • What happens next?

    Following your assessment, we may loan you a communication aid to trial. We will provide training and support to you, your family, carers and your local team to help you learn how to use the communication aid. We will review the trial, which involves finding out what you think of the communication aid. If the communication aid helps you communicate, we will discuss the funding options for you to keep the communication aid.

    We will give you an assessment report at the end of the trial period.

  • How do I access the service?

    Most referrals are made by local speech and language therapists who would be involved in your assessment and supporting you to learn how to use the communication aid.

    You can also refer yourself or be referred by a professional in a statutory service role such as a NHS funded professional, local authority funded professional or education funded professional involved in your care.

    The Regional Communication Aid Service can be contacted by telephone, email or in writing.

  • Travel information

    Contact Nexus Traveline: Tel: 0871 200 22 33

    Website: www.traveline.info/

  • What if I have a comment, suggestion, compliment or complaint about the service?

    If you want to make a comment, suggestion, compliment or complaint you can:

    • talk to the people directly involved in your care
    • ask a member of staff for a feedback form, or complete a form on the Trust website www.cntw.nhs.uk (click on the ‘Contact Us’ tab)
    • telephone the Complaints Department 0191 245 6672
    • email complaints@cntw.nhs.uk Please note that information sent to the Trust via email is sent at your own risk
    • We are always looking at ways to improve services. Your feedback allows us to monitor the quality of our services and act upon issues that you bring to our attention.

    You can provide feedback in the following ways:
    - the quickest way for you to do this is to complete our short online survey at www.cntw.nhs.uk/poy
    - complete a Points of You survey, available from staff.

  • Useful contacts

    • Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)
    North of Tyne Tel: 0800 032 0202, 9am-4.30pm, Monday - Friday
    Provides information and advice about local NHS services and support organisations and helps sort out any problems with NHS services.

  • Contact details

    The Regional Communication Aid Service
    Walkergate Park
    Centre for Neuro-rehabilitation and Neuro-psychiatry
    Benfield Road
    Newcastle upon Tyne
    NE6 4QD
    Tel: 0191 287 5240
    Email: rcas@cntw.nhs.uk

  • Other formats, references and review

    Further information about the content, reference sources or production of this leaflet can be obtained from the Patient Information Centre.

    This information can be made available in a range of formats on request (eg Braille, audio, larger print, easy read, BSL or other languages). Please contact the Patient Information Centre Tel: 0191 246 7288

    Published by the Patient Information Centre

    2019 Copyright, Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust

    Ref, PIC/459/1021 October 2021 V6

    www.cntw.nhs.uk Tel: 0191 246 7288

    Review date 2024