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Child Speech and Hearing Programme

The Problem

Speech, language and hearing problems are among the most common childhood disorders.  If detected and treated early, delays in children’s development can be prevented and full recovery is often possible. If not, children face extended rehabilitation processes, long-term learning difficulties, the need for special education and related services, and a range of social and behavioural challenges.

Only very limited Paediatric Speech, Language and Audiology services are currently available in the Western Cape health services.  Children must be referred to tertiary hospitals for diagnosis and treatment.  However these services struggle to address the extent of need; and to retain patients in care.  At the Red Cross Children’s Hospital, the overstretched Speech Therapy department has a waiting list of over 800 children (a backlog that will take three years to address) and is closed for new out-patient referrals.  As a result, children do not receive effective treatment as soon as they need it, and precious developmental time is wasted, leading to poor quality of life outcomes.

The Solution 

In 2013 the Carel du Toit Centre developed a model for the Western Cape Provincial Government to introduce Speech-Language Therapy and Audiology services across all levels of the health care system, including home-and community-based care, primary care clinics and community health centres, intermediate care facilities as well as at district hospitals.  This will enable children to access preventative, rehabilitative and curative services quickly and easily in their own neighbourhoods at clinics and schools, and reduce the burden on tertiary hospitals like the Red Cross Children’s Hospital.  Services at tertiary hospitals will be freed up to treat children with specialised speech-language or hearing needs.

How you can Help

The Trust has committed to raising R3million to support a process to pilot the implementation of the newly-designed model for Speech-Language Therapy and Audiology services.  Your support has enabled the introduction and testing of the model in the Mitchells Plain health sub-district (the primary feeder area for the Red Cross Children’s Hospital) and will enable its subsequent refinement for roll-out across the Western Cape.  In so doing, you will help ensure that children with serious conditions are reached more effectively and timeously in future thus give many children with speech and hearing difficulties a chance at normal development to live a healthy happy childhood.

For information regarding this project contact Chantel Cooper on 021 686 7860