Speech, Language and Hearing Therapy


1. Overview of the program

The Worcester rotation for Speech-, language- and language therapy students is a 6-week intensive block, with a strong focus on special populations and community-based service delivery. The purpose of the rotation is to afford final year SLHT students the opportunity to develop specific clinical skills required for appropriate and effective management (prevention, early identification, assessment, management and referral) of clients throughout the lifespan (children and adults) with speech-, language-, communication-, swallowing-, hearing impairments, and disability within a community-based context and specific community settings. This is done in collaboration with other professionals, parents, caregivers and significant others.

Furthermore, the students participate in the administrative and operational functions of existing programmes and experience the varied approaches and philosophies to professional practice in Speech-Language Therapy at various levels of government and non-governmental organisations (Primary Health Care, District Hospital, Education, Community and Non-Governmental Organisations) and participate in inter-professional/Collaborative learning activities. This rotation aims to prepare students for the transition from university to the professional employment context in preparation for the public healthcare system, and to acquire, broaden and consolidate (additional) theoretical knowledge at the same time. During the students time at Worcester, they also complete their South African Sign Language (SASL).

2. Local coordinator:

The clinical coordinator, Michelle van Niekerk, hold a B. Speech-, language and hearing therapy degree from Stellenbosch University as well as a Masters degree in Early Childhood Intervention from the University of Stellenbosch. Michelle has been at Ukwanda from July 2019 but has been involved with student training and supervision since 2015. Michelle has a special interest in early childhood intervention and is passionate about the Prior to working at Ukwanda, Michelle worked within a special school setting but also has experience in working within the healthcare setting as well as private practice.

3. Which communities are involved?

The SLHT students work at different sites within Worcester (Breede Valley) and De Doorns (Hex River Valley). The SLHT students are involved at the following sites:
· Pioneer School for the Visually Impaired
· De La Bat School & Nuwe Hoop sentrum schools for the Hearing Impaired
· Breede Valley Association for Persons with Disabilities
· Sean Kelly Centre (Association for the Sensory Disabled)
· DoH Primary Healthcare Clinics: Empilisweni clinic & De Doorns clinic
· The students also do outreaches within the De Doorns community, as well as contextual visits in Worcester.

4. How do the clinical rotations work?

All the final year SLHT students do a 6-week rotation in Worcester as part of their clinical training. Eight students per rotation are placed in Worcester for their community rotation.

5. What is the benefit of the program to students

Clinical practicum rationale:
· To provide students with the clinical and practical exposure in order to acquire, develop, and consolidate theoretical knowledge into clinical experiential learning towards professional competency.
· To provide an authentic and experiential learning platform for Public Health Services in a Rural context in clinical placements that include Community Health Centres, Early Childhood Development Centres, Schools for Special Populations groups (Visually impaired, Hearing impaired), and other clinical settings.
· To provide opportunities to assess, manage and promote health (primary, secondary, tertiary prevention) for a range of communicating and/or swallowing disorders throughout the lifespan (infants, children, young people, adults).
· To foster student learning through community outreaches and workshops, developing quality improvement projects, including reflective practice and discussion of clinically-relevant topics (Ukwanda Talks and Collaborative Care).

· The focus of the clinical skills and graduate attributes are geared towards development of a competent entry level healthcare practitioner.