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The authors of this article highlight that the number of older people has increased significantly in the last two decades, and the number of people over 85 has doubled in Australia since 1996. They attribute this to improved lifestyle factors and improvements in healthcare. Nevertheless, chronic and life-limiting illnesses have implications for palliative care in the ageing population and, given that swallowing and communication are often a feature of these illnesses, there is an important role for speech and language therapists (SLTs). To date there has been little guidance on the role of the SLT in this area of care. Thus, the authors of the article undertook a scoping review, identifying 29 relevant articles and extracting six themes comprising swallowing, communication, ethical and legal considerations, consultation for end of life, emotional and existential issues, and research. They also conducted surveys of 65 SLTs working in this area to collate information on caseloads indicating stroke, neurodegenerative diseases and cancer. Finally, they conducted interviews with 15 SLTs to gather opinions and experiences. The latter highlighted seven key roles for SLTs, namely advocacy, identification, assessment, management, support, counselling/consultancy and education. The authors call for more research, published guidelines on the role of SLT in palliative car, and spreading the word on the role of the SLT across healthcare professions. In the current climate of COVID-19, where palliative care is at the forefront, this guidance is of benefit to SLT departments evaluating the scope and relevance of their role.

Speech-language pathologists and adult palliative care in Australia.
Chahda L, Carey LLB, Mathisen BA, Threats T.
2020;Early Online:1-13.
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Anna Volkmer

UCL, London, UK.

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