Speech and language therapists' management of ventilated patients and patients with tracheostomy in Israel.

Oshrat Sella Weiss, Aviah Gvion, Jackie Mcrae

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: There is increased involvement of speech and language therapists (SLTs) in critical care and long-term units supporting patients with ventilatory needs and complex dysphagia. SLTs have a range of specialist knowledge in the function of the pharynx and larynx to enable them to support therapeutic interventions and contribute to the management of those patients. In Israel, there are currently no designated courses or training programmes for SLTs to establish advanced clinical skills in tracheostomy and ventilator management. There are currently standards of care for SLT working in designated wards for ventilated patients, however not in acute wards, critical care, and internal medicine wards where ventilated patients can be hospitalized.

AIMS: To identify the skills and expertise of the Israeli SLT workforce working with tracheostomy patients. Specifically, to identify their level of training, access to training, client population, work settings, and level of work confidence.

METHODS: The study involved electronic distribution of a 55-item online survey to SLTs in Israel. The questions included demographic information, training, confidence, and clinical support.

RESULTS: Responses were received from 47 SLTs. The majority (40.4%) spent between 1% and 9% of their clinical time with ventilated patients. Almost 80% work with seniors (≥65 years) and almost 70% work with adults (18-65 years) half the time or more. In inpatient rehabilitation, 46.8% reported that they manage patients with tracheostomy half the time or more. In outpatient rehabilitation settings, 21.3% reported that they manage patients with tracheostomy half the time or more. Prior to managing complex airway patients independently, 55.3% received less than 5 h formal tracheostomy training whilst 68.1% received less than 5 h training on ventilated patients. Multidisciplinary teams (MDTs) existed for tracheostomy patients (85.1%) and ventilated patients (70.2%) and high levels of confidence were reported for managing patients with tracheostomies (mode of 4 in a scale of 0-5, where 5 means fully confident) and ventilated patients (mode of 3 in a scale of 0-5). A significant relationship was found between level of confidence and presence of an MDT.

CONCLUSIONS: Limited training access was found for SLTs working with this complex population. A competency framework needs to be established with access to training and supervision. MDT existence contributes to confidence. Most respondents worked in rehabilitation settings, and very few worked in acute care, critical care, and internal medicine wards. It seems reasonable that in order to change this, minimal standards of care should be established on these wards.

WHAT THIS PAPER ADDS: What is already known on the subject Speech and language therapists (SLTs) have an important role in critical care and long-term units supporting patients with complex dysphagia and undergo formal training and supervision in UK and Australia. What this paper adds to existing knowledge In Israel, most SLTs work with tracheostomy and ventilated adult patients in rehabilitation settings, whilst few work in acute, critical care, and internal medicine wards. There are limited opportunities for formal training and supervision, although MDT support enhances clinical confidence. What are the potential or actual clinical implications of this work? SLTs in Israel would benefit from establishing a competency framework for tracheostomy and ventilator patient management to support training, standards of care, and increase clinical involvement in acute settings. This will enhance clinical outcomes for their large population of complex airway patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1053-1063
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Language and Communication Disorders
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists.


  • Adult
  • Deglutition Disorders
  • Humans
  • Israel
  • Language Therapy/education
  • Respiration, Artificial
  • Speech
  • Speech Therapy/education
  • Tracheostomy/rehabilitation


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