For today’s blog we cover the impact of COVID-19 on the speech therapy industry and provide details on how the ClearMask™ can help support those who rely on facial expressions and lip reading to communicate.
The latest restrictions in the UK means that wearing a face covering is now a part of daily life and whilst not classified as PPE, face coverings are mandatory in places where social distancing is difficult. For most this is a mild inconvenience, however it has had a massive impact for those relying on facial expression and lip reading to support communication.
We recognised in the early stages of coronavirus that there was a need for this to be addressed, it was clear that wearing face masks had a significant impact on communication for some of the most vulnerable people in society.
There are approximately 1.1 million stroke survivors living in the UK…..Around a third of people will have some level of communication difficulties (called aphasia or dysphasia) following a stroke.RCSLT.ORG 16/10/2020 Supporting stroke survivors
Amongst other service users, speech and language therapy plays a vital role in the rehabilitation and re-enablement of stroke survivors. Coronavirus has changed the way people are able to mix, this in turn has put an additional strain on these support services.
Speech and language therapy
In basic terms, speech and language therapy provides treatment, support and care for children and adults who have difficulties with communication and for people with eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties.
Nearly 20% of the population may experience communication difficulties at some point in their livesRCSLT.ORG
Facial expression and non-verbal communication
We all know that facial movements and expressions can indicate how a person is feeling and enhance communication, but for people with speech impairment this can be particularly important. Non-verbal communication through facial expression is used constantly and masking this can potentially result in misunderstanding or confusion.
Speech therapy tools
In layman’s terms, speech and language therapists (SLTs) assess and treat speech, language and communication difficulties in people of all ages to help them communicate better. SLTs work directly with clients and their carers and provide them with tailored support. Additionally they work alongside teachers, doctors, nurses, other allied health professionals and psychologists to develop individual treatment programmes. In their field, speech therapists use their mouths to demonstrate throat and tongue strengthening exercises and word formations and a key area for the speech therapist is phonics (the mouth alphabet) which, along with sound, relies on a clearly visible mouth shape.
Suitable solutions to aid to help speech therapists in their invaluable work have not been quick to appear. Here at Rapid Fire Supplies we spent months searching for a high-quality product to fill the gap and were delighted when we found ClearMask™.
When using ClearMask™ mouth expression and positioning can be clearly seen, whilst providing the necessary protection from Covid-19, this is a vital tool for those who rely on visualisation to support communication. We believe the ClearMask™ is a solution that can help support the 17,000 SLTs (according to RCSLT) actively working in the UK in their therapy sessions and we are not alone – the UK government has agreed to purchase 250,000 for the NHS.
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