The Regional Communication Aid Service is based at Walkergate Park and is a specialist Electronic Assistive Technology Service. Our service aims to improve the independence of people of all ages who experience severe communication difficulties through the provision of specialised services for Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) Aids. We support local teams in working with individuals to understand their AAC needs; and in providing specialised communication aids.
The Regional Communication Aid Service offers:
• A visiting assessment service: this takes place in a suitable location (i.e. home, school, hospital etc)
• An equipment loan service (post assessment only from April 2017)
• Advice on specialist Communication Aid Equipment
• Training in the use of specialist Communication Aid Equipment
• AAC training for local teams
The service is in a transition phase until April 2017. During this period, as resources permit, we are working to both the NHS-E “Complex Disability Equipment – Communication Aids (Specialised AAC services)” specification and that which applied prior to this change. So that we can prioritise referrals that meet the criteria, referrals that do not meet the referral criteria are currently being placed on a waiting list and direct short term loan requests are being fulfilled when resources permit.
The Specialised AAC services specification states that an individual who would access a specialised AAC service would have both of the following:
• a severe/complex communication difficulty associated with a range of physical, cognitive, learning, or sensory deficits;
• a clear discrepancy between their level of understanding and ability to speak.
In addition, an individual must:
• be able to understand the purpose of a communication aid;
• have the ability to retain information on how to use the equipment
• have communication ability beyond being pre-verbal
• have developed beyond cause and effect understanding; and may:
• have experience of using low tech AAC which is insufficient to enable them to realise their communicative potential.
Communication Aids Provision
The service has a remit to provide and maintain ‘specialised communication aids’ for people who meet the referral criteria. Additional guidance governs what specialised communication aids are included.
Separate funding is available for people who are normally resident in Newcastle upon Tyne and for North Tyneside residents who have a Laryngectomy at the Freeman Hospital, Newcastle. There is also support for communication aid interventions for Newcastle Speech and Language Therapists and others who work with the communication aid user.
How to get Referred
Via GP, Health, Social or Educational Professionals, Carers or Self referral