The Demand and Supply of Therapists for Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities: A Scoping Study

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

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The provision of therapies for children and young people (CYP) with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) can be an affectively challenging, sometimes procedurally complex, process for the various stakeholders involved. However, the efficiency and effectiveness of this process, are crucial to various outcomes, in particular to the life chances of the children and young people in question, to the welfare of the families supporting them and to the working lives of the employees responsible for delivering the therapies.

Despite the importance of such therapies for CYP with SEND, there is limited precise and detailed information on the need and demand for these services, and on the scale and nature of the workforce tasked with providing them. Given this paucity of information, the Government’s SEND Review (2022) expressed a commitment to fill this knowledge gap. The findings presented in this report are an initial step towards meeting this goal. Thus, the current scoping study was designed to:

-Identify key contacts and sources for any future follow-up work.
-Signpost and undertake initial perusal of relevant material.
-Summarise existing data collected on the demand for and supply of therapy services to CYP with SEND.
-Provide an empirically grounded overview of substantive themes and issues raised by key stakeholders.

While the study touched on the therapy needs and demands of CYP with SEND, its principal focus was on the supply side and on the NHS workforce delivering them. In substantive terms the study aimed to:

-Consider the state of knowledge on the size of the workforce delivering therapies to children and young people with SEND.
-Examine the structure of this workforce in terms of work roles, grades, and skill mix.
-Explore the working arrangements for the workforce: the employing organisations and the patterns of employment.
-Highlight the perceived challenges faced in managing this workforce and responses to them.

The study concentrated on the most commonly drawn upon therapy services for CYP with SEND:

-Speech and language therapy (SLT).
-Occupational Therapy (OT).

After presenting the approach taken in conducting the scoping study, the findings are presented in three parts:

-The need and demand for therapy services amongst CYP with SEND.
-The supply of those services, in particular by the therapy workforce.
-The previous and current work being undertaken to plan the workforce delivering therapies to CYP with SEND.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherNIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce, The Policy Institute, King's College London
Publication statusPublished - 14 May 2024


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