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Returning to speech and language therapy practice

By Dan Allard

​Speech and language therapy can be highly rewarding. However, practitioners may choose to put their careers on hold for a while, perhaps to raise a family or care for an elderly relative. If you feel the time is right to get back into the profession, there are a few important things you need to bear in mind.

HCPC registration

The most important thing you'll need to do before you can start applying for speech and language therapy jobs is renew your Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) registration. How complicated that is depends on how long you've been out of practice. If it's under two years, you can simply reapply. If it's more than that, you'll need to complete a set period of return to work evidencing (i.e. updating your skills and knowledge) – 30 days if you've been de-registered for two to five years, 60 days for over five years. This involves doing private study, attending courses or study days, and supervised practice (similar to a student placement).

You can download the HCPC returning to practice guide here.

The HEE Return to Practice Programme

Health Education England runs a return to practice programme which provides help and information for allied health professionals, including speech and language therapists. It's open to all former HCPC registrants who've not been registered in the last five years, as long as they live and plan to work in England.

The programme can also put you in touch with practicing speech and language therapists and relevant organisations in your area who can offer supervised practice placements.
Some NHS trusts run return-to-work programmes. They may be able to offer mentoring or be able to support you through the re-registration process in a speech and language therapy assistant role.

Why not do some volunteering?

Another good way to update your speech and language therapy skills and knowledge is to volunteer in an appropriate setting, such as a school or charity. It's a great way of re-familiarising yourself with the work environment, whilst also making a valuable contribution.

Distance learning

Birmingham City University has created a return to practice online course for allied health professionals. Adaptable to your needs and designed to be completed at your own pace, it provides a formal learning framework which supports you in completing the self-directed process of returning to practice as set out by the HCPC.

Re-joining the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT)

There's no need to wait until you're HCPC registered to re-join the RCSLT. Initially you'll be designated a 'returner' member. You'll be upgraded to full membership once you've completed the return to practice process and re-gained your HCPC registration.
The RCSLT also has a return to practice e-group. It's a great forum for sharing information and experiences with other returners who are going through or have recently completed the re-registration process.

For more information about returning to work, please get in touch with your Sanctuary consultant. We have also written a series of blogs around speech and language therapy tools and your speech and language therapy career.