The Local services working party was established in 2018 to increase engagement with and establishment of local AAC services throughout England. As part of the specialised services remit, there is an expectation that each NHSE-commissioned specialised AAC service will support the development of local AAC services and help to meet their ongoing learning needs within their allocated region.

Since the specialised services were created in 2016, it has become apparent that nationally there is a significant variation across the county in the provision of local AAC services. It is recognised that some areas have long established and commissioned local AAC services, which meet the requirements as suggested in the NHSE document “Guidance for commissioning AAC services and equipment”. It is a goal of the Local AAC Services Working Party to provide resources to help each region increase the quantity and equity of this type of local AAC service across the country.  

This toolkit has been produced by the national working party, which has been created to support the development of local Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) services. The purpose of the toolkit is to signpost professionals working in the field towards useful resources, which can support with the establishment of a local AAC service. Each locality will have its own regional approach to data gathering, commissioning, strategy and implementation and therefore the resources in the toolkit should be treated as a guide rather than used prescriptively.

Specialised AAC Services in your area can be contacted if you require further information. You can find out how to contact the Specialised AAC Service in your region here. If you do not know which service is your regional specialised AAC service, enter your postcode here.

Topics covered within the existing version of the toolkit include:

  • Data Gathering: This section aims to outline important minimum data which will be helpful for approaching commissioners, alongside highlighting factors to consider when collecting data. Suggestions for formats for data collection and a data collection tool, which can be customised to meet local needs are provided within this section.
  • Approaching Commissioners: This section aims to provide information regarding commissioning arrangements within the NHS and provides an outline of the role of Commissioning Support Units (CSU). The section includes a guide to business case writing and an explanation of how the Individual Funding Requests (IFR)/Evidence Based Intervention Request (EBI) process works and the role of the Effective Use of Resources panel (EUR) alongside tips for completing an IFR & how to find locally relevant information.
  • Strategic Development: This section aims to give an overview of a typical structure of a local AAC service and provide signposting to resources which can help with the strategic development of a service. The resources include an overview of the remit of a local AAC service & how they interact with Specialised AAC Services nationally. Documents containing useful information regarding statistics and prevalence to support with service planning are signposted along with quality standards and tables to RAG rate against these standards. A range of sample service specifications, pathways and levels of service provision are also provided.
  • Service Implementation: This section includes practical elements to consider when setting up a service e.g. sample referral forms, leaflets, infection control and data protection considerations etc. Sample Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and suggestions for equipment management and outcome measures are included.

It is anticipated that the contents of this toolkit will provide a useful resource for those who are either establishing or further developing a local AAC service. Please use this email address: admin@localaactools.co.uk to share your experiences of establishing AAC services locally. We intend to create a page to share positive examples of service establishment via the use of the toolkit and other resources (with appropriate permissions from authors). Please also let us know if you have created or located any additional useful resources/documents which we could add to the toolkit.