A new model for delivering augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) equipment to those who have difficulty speaking is being championed by AAC specialists Communication Matters.
Welcoming the Government’s decision to accept the recommendation of the Clinical Advisory Group for Prescribed Services that specialised AAC services and equipment should be nationally commissioned from April 2013, the charity is urging ministers to adopt a new “hub and spoke” model for service delivery. This which would see NHS commissioning boards take responsibility for the most complex AAC cases via regional hubs, while local health and wellbeing boards commission the vast majority of services.
The charity’s Chair, Janice Murray, argues that AAC provision is currently subject to a “postcode lottery”, with a shortage of specialist professionals and constant battles between education and health services over whose responsibility it is to meet local AAC needs. “Every person has the right to a voice, yet many people are currently being deprived of this because they aren’t being supplied with the equipment and support services which enable them to speak”, says Dr Murray.
The charity estimates that 260,000 children and adults will need AAC at some point in their lives, with around ten per cent of those with the most complex needs requiring access to specialised AAC services and equipment.
The “hub and spoke” model has been developed by Communication Matters in association with the Government’s former Communication Champion Jean Gross.