MORE than one million Australians have a communication or swallowing disorder, but the good news is, help is at hand.
South West Healthcare has six speech pathologists on staff and provides services at the local level at the Camperdown hospital, Merindah Lodge and Manifold Place.
Speech pathology manager Elisia Nichol said the staff supported people living with communication difficulties, such as aphasia after suffering a stroke and assessed people living with swallowing difficulties (dysphasia) so they could make informed choices about what to eat and drink.
SWH also provides rehabilitation and geriatric evaluations at the Warrnambool Base Hospital and runs outpatient rehabilitation programs, home-based rehabilitation services and child specific programs.
“Communication impairment is far more common than you’d think,” Ms Nichol said.
“More than one million Australians have a communication swallowing disorder.
“They range from mild to severe, can be temporary to lifelong and can have profound impacts.
“Trying to communicate your needs, ideas and opinions when you have even a mild communication impairment can cause frustration, anger and embarrassment.”
Ms Nichol said early intervention is the key to preventing, or reducing, the lifelong implications for people living with a communication impairment.
“Data from our region indicates that Year 12 attainment rates are dropping well below the state average,” she said.
“As a team we’re working hard to promote our role of speech pathology in the pre-school years.
“Focussing on children’s oral language skills will give them the best building blocks for learning to read and write when they start school.”
Ms Nichol said appointments with a speech pathologist are set at $8 for an adult, $6 a child and $4 for group members.