Speech and Language Therapy Support Worker

Speech and Language Therapy Support Workers work with Speech and Language Therapists to help clients overcome speech, language and swallowing problems. They work directly with a range of client groups, such as:

  • children
  • people with physical disabilities, learning difficulties or mental health problems
  • people recovering from illness or a medical condition such as a stroke or brain injury
  • the elderly

In NHSScotland, Speech and Language Therapy Support Workers may also be known as Speech and Language Therapy Assistants. They work in hospitals, schools and community clinics. Sometimes they visit patients at home.

I'm Vicki, I'm a Speech and Language Therapy Support Worker at Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

A lot of people assume that speech therapy is all about somebody speaking, but there's so much more to it. Quite often, people can't speak after they've had a stroke, so we have to then think of what else can we do for this person, to get their voice over.

My role is trying to encourage the person not to just say "ok... forget it", because their voice still needs to be heard and they should still have a voice, regardless if it doesn't come out their mouth, they still deserve to be able to say "I need to go to the toilet".

Being involved with the families is a key point. They know that person better than anybody else. So, it's really good if you can get to meet the families and get to know them and they know your face. It's crucial, I think.

There's lots of different ways [we can help people to communicate]. We call it a total communication. That can be just chatting to the person, it could be making a picture list or a word list for that person, or it could be iPad work. A word could just be simple things, like feelings, basic needs like toilet, food, drink. If somebody is going to a unit that nobody knows them, it's important to know they don't like coffee and prefer tea.

You've got to be able to want to work with people. You've got to be able to listen to people. You've got to be quite patient as well, because you've got to give somebody the opportunity to finish what they've said before you jump in with something else. You've got to love to chat to people and I think you've got to be able to have that confidence to go up and start a conversation with somebody that you've never met before.

It's amazing to see from where that person was to the person that is going home. It's amazing it's the best feeling ever to think I played a very small part in that person being able to say goodbye to people.

As a Speech and Language Therapy Support Worker, you would assist qualified Speech and Language Therapists, Teachers, Doctors, Nurses, Psychologists and other healthcare professionals.

Once the Speech and Language Therapist assesses the client and makes their diagnosis, you would work with them to plan a series of therapy exercises as part of the client’s treatment plan.

Your main duties would include:

  • assisting and reassuring patients
  • working with the Speech and language therapist to plan a client's therapy
  • working with clients on a one-to-one basis or in groups
  • preparing therapy rooms and equipment
  • supporting clients to develop communication skills
  • updating patient records and booking appointments

Useful skills include:

  • patience and empathy
  • a caring and friendly personality
  • strong communication skills
  • teamworking skills
  • good level of physical fitness
  • IT skills 

 Useful abilities include:

  • the ability to relate to people of all ages, lifestyles and backgrounds
  • the ability to motivate people
  • the ability to reassure patients and explain therapy exercises and treatment plans
  • the ability to keep your knowledge and skills up to date

To apply for a job as a speech and language therapy support worker, you are likely to need a good standard of general education, including English and Maths. Previous voluntary or paid work experience in a healthcare setting would be an advantage.

The specific entry requirements will depend of the Agenda for Change (AfC) band (2, 3 or 4) for the job. The qualifications asked for may also vary, depending on the recruiting NHSScotland board. You are advised to contact each individual board to find out its specific requirements.

You may also require or be encouraged to work towards an SVQ Healthcare Support (Clinical) at SCQF Level 6 and SCQF Level 7 qualification. Find out more about qualifications for healthcare support workers on the SQA website.

Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme

When applying to become a Speech and Language Therapy Support Worker, you’ll need evidence of your good health and character, and background checks, such as the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) managed by Disclosure Scotland.


Modern Apprenticeships offer those aged over 16 paid employment with the opportunity to train for jobs at craft, technician and management level.

The Modern Apprenticeship in Healthcare Support (clinical) at SCQF Level 6 and SCQF Level 7 is a framework for people interested in working in a clinical healthcare setting.

For more information about this Modern Apprenticeship framework, look at:

Contact your local NHSScotland board to find out if this Modern Apprenticeship is available in your area.

Working as a Speech and Language Therapy Support Worker in NHSScotland, you will be given the training you need for the job including:

  •          an introduction to the department and its procedures
  •          health and safety
  •          risk management

Career development

During your career, you may have the opportunity to study for qualifications, such as an SQA HNC Allied Health Professions: Speech and Language Therapy Support (SCQF Level 7).

With further education and training, could lead to a career as a qualified Speech and Language Therapist.

Find out more information from these professional bodies.

Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC)

The HCPC is an independent, UK-wide regulatory body responsible for setting and maintaining standards for health, psychological, and in England; social work professionals. It maintains a public register of qualified professionals and works to improve industry standards and education. Visit the HCPC website to find out more.


Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT)

The RCSLT is the professional body for speech and language therapists in the UK, which provides leadership and sets professional standards. It promotes research, better education and training of speech and language therapists. It also provides information to the public about speech and language therapy.

Speech and language therapy support workers can become associate members of the RCSLT. It provides courses, conferences and seminars where Speech and Language Therapy Support Workers can update their skills and network with others doing similar work.

Find out more on the RCSLT website.