8 May 2024

Transforming Children’s Speech and Language Therapy Rooms at East Lothian Community Hospital

Tagged by

NHS Staff writing on the chalk board in the SALT Rooms at East Lothian Community Hospital
SLT Rooms at East Lothian Community Hospital

NHS Lothian Charity has continued its programme of art and therapeutic design to improve patient experience at East Lothian Community Hospital. The latest project has created bright, stimulating Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) rooms to support children on their communication journey.

Speech and language are crucial to a child’s social, emotional, and educational development. According to speech and language UK, 1.9 million children in the UK are currently struggling with talking and understanding words. The original SLT rooms at East Lothian Community Hospital were functional but the environment wasn’t conducive to staff creating a connection with the young people attending appointments. The rooms were stark, cold feeling, and clinical. The newly refurbished therapy rooms now offer a welcoming and engaging environment for these children, and their families.

Corridor with textured trees and animals outside the SALT Rooms at East Lothian Community Hospital
SALT Room Corridor at East Lothian Community Hospital

The Impact

Caroline Anderson, a Speech and Language Therapist, has witnessed firsthand the positive impact of the enhanced rooms.

Families are more relaxed, which creates a better environment for therapy sessions. In fact, one mum commented on ‘what a difference’ the improvements made, and her son chimed in, ‘it’s so much nicer now!’

“The rooms are much better. They are more child friendly, but importantly not ‘OTT’. They are interesting, but not distracting, which would not work for some children, who can be easily distracted.

“The room with the floor mat and orange cushions is great for floor work, which is important for the younger age group. It allows the therapist to get down on the floor and to break into whatever activity the child is doing. Being on the floor, rather than sitting at a table, is childlike in itself and suits the majority of younger children who need to be able to move without restrictions.”

SALT Rooms at East Lothian Community Hospital
SALT Rooms at East Lothian Community Hospital

Beyond Aesthetics

The design goes beyond just adding decoration to a space. The enhancements are carefully considered to be child-friendly and meet the specific needs of young patients. The room with the floor mat and orange cushions fosters floor work, which is important for younger children. This play style allows therapists to engage with the child on their level and break into their play world.

The comfortable sofa also provides a welcoming space for parents, while the lockable cupboard eliminates distractions by keeping play resources out of sight. Additionally, the sliding chalkboard and mirrored doors are valuable tools for therapists to encourage communication. The mirror, for example, allows children to see their mouth movements while practising speech sounds. Giving verbal instruction to a child on how to shape their mouth can be challenging, but the mirror allows children to easily copy and see what their face is doing.

Floor cushions and interactive boards in the SALT Rooms at East Lothian Community Hospital
SALT Rooms at East Lothian Community Hospital

A Success Story

Coming to hospital can often feel stressful and a little bit scary for children and their families, so it’s so important that the spaces they visit feel welcoming and relaxing which in turn helps them engage with their treatment.

A two-year-old boy was referred to Speech and Language Therapy as he was he was not speaking at all. He was mostly in his own world, doing his own thing and neither his parents nor anyone else could break into his world to play or communicate.

He easily came into the SLT room as it is so welcoming and he began to play on the floor and the cushions, rolling toys from them on to the floor.

The Therapist copied what he was doing and the boy became engaged. He was laughing and she managed to get eye contact from him. She was also able to model to the boy’s parents how to play with him. She showed them how to join in with his world of play so they could do this at home, which in turn will encourage communication. When the Therapist stopped to speak to the parents, the boy made it clear he wanted to play more.

Two Speech and Language Therapy rooms were enhanced at East Lothian Community Hospital for children and young people aged 0 – 18 years. The rooms cater for children across East Lothian, including Haddington, North Berwick, Gifford and Gullane. The enhancements were funded by Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity with the support of Coldstones Charitable Trust, and commissioned and managed by Round Table Projects as part of NHS Lothian Charity: Tonic Arts’ wider art and environmental strategy for East Lothian Community Hospital. To learn more about the award-winning strategy, visit: NHS Lothian Charity: Tonic Arts | Commissions | East Lothian Community Hospital

With thanks to:

Tonic Arts Commission at East Lothian Community Hospital called The Sanctuary

Your donation can help create inclusive, people-centred healthcare environments like these, which support patients as they navigate arriving, waiting, attending appointments and receiving treatment.