Speech-language pathology in Australian residential aged-care facilities

Skye Sewell, Suzanne Hopf

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


This narrative literature review aimed to identify the current speech-language pathology (SLP) service profile and service level factors influencing SLP service delivery in Australian residential aged-care facilities (RACFs). A rigorous and step-wise systematic database search was augmented with manual searches
of grey literature related to aged-care policy and professional guidelines. Identified articles were then thematically analysed. There is limited research investigating SLP services delivered in RACFs where a range of multi-morbidities impact communication and swallowing function. Twenty-six sources were
identified for thematic review. Major themes arising from the research included: the role of speech-language pathologists and factors influencing the provision of best-practice in RACFs. Sub-themes related to these barriers included: poor understanding of SLP scope of practice in RACFs; limited SLP roles in
practice; potential impact of “ageism”; communication access and quality issues;
and a lack of recognition of RACFs as a clinical specialty site for speech-language
pathologists. Speech-language pathologists have a limited range of practice within RACFs despite significant need across both communication and swallowing disorders. RACFs should be recognised as a specialist SLP setting requiring unique clinician support, education and training. Barriers to service expansion need to be addressed to ensure that residents living in RACFs have access to the holistic, patient-centred care they have a right to receive.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-61
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Practice in Speech-Language Pathology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


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