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Bevan Exemplar Cohort 8 Projects

Speech, Language and Communication (SLC) training for the Early Years workforce

Emily Hoskins

Aneurin Bevan University Health Board

ABUHB have made a Wales first by employing a Speech and Language Therapist within their Health Visiting department, to focus on Universal and Targeted services across the region. Speech, Language and Communication (SLC) needs are more prevalent than ever post-COVID and Health Visiting teams have access to all families in the crucial period of early development. They are key to identifying emerging needs and providing immediate, proportionate advice and support.

Health Visitors do not receive training around SLC development during their pre-registration course and the Heads of Health Visiting for Wales asked for a training package to be co-produced aligned with The Welsh Government Talk With Me delivery plan.

This project focuses on delivering ‘Talk With Me’ training to Health Visiting, skillmix and Local Authority Family Support worker teams across Gwent and piloting a bespoke ‘Talk with me’ contact point within the proposed ‘Early Years Core Programme for Gwent’. This project embeds the principles of prudent healthcare and the new SLC outcomes from Welsh Government within the process of identifying and supporting emerging SLC needs.

This project aligns with the transformational work within Gwent Early Years and brings together Health and Local Authority workforces as one team with a responsibility for supporting children’s SLC development. It aims to upskill practitioners, increase parent and practitioner confidence and reduce unnecessary referrals into specialised SLT services to demonstrate the benefit of having a public health SLT role within a Health Visiting department. It also aims to demonstrate the need for SLC training to be an integral part of Health Visitor training both pre and post registration.

The training rollout has been in full swing and between March-August 2023 well over 200 staff have been trained across Gwent Health Visiting and Local Authority workforces. The evaluation is showing an increase in knowledge and confidence for 95% of attendees, when asked about various domains of the training content. The top 5 key pieces of learning so far have been fed-back as:

  • The increased awareness of Talk With Me resources available to share and signpost with families
  • Familiarisation with the Talk With Me website for parents, and dedicated practitioner page
  • Information and research around early gestures from 9 months old and how this leads to increased pointing and better vocabulary
  • Behaviour change in the context of the COM-B model when sharing ideas with families
  • Information and research around practice with families who have English as an additional language

With more training dates booked in Autumn. Training feedback is also shaping best practice advice around formatting a training package for a workforce in the context of huge pressures.

Work is underway drafting the documentation to support the delivery of the ‘Talk With Me’ contact and following feedback from local areas this is planned to be offered when children are between 18-21 months. Following the Bevan Exemplar Network days on evaluation and the workshop on coproduction, work is now focused on completing stakeholder engagement with families and staff across Gwent to shape the Talk With Me contact to suit the needs of the Gwent population. Once stakeholder engagement is complete and the paperwork is finalised, strategic planning will begin on a pilot of these contacts to gather indicative findings on whether this is effective in increasing parental responsiveness to support their child’s language learning through everyday interactions. The outcome measure planned for this has been identified as the Parental Responsiveness Rating Scale (PaRRiS) (Levickis et al 2022) 

Hear Emily talk about her project:

Read Emily’s blog post: 

Blog Post


Barnett SE, Levickis P, McKean C, Letts C, Stringer H. Validation of a measure of parental responsiveness: Comparison of the brief Parental Responsiveness Rating Scale with a detailed measure of responsive parental behaviours. Journal of Child Health Care. 2022;26(1):56-67. doi:10.1177/1367493521996489