Funding for AAC
Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) is an important clinical intervention for many people with motor neurone disease (MND).
This information is for health and social care professionals working with people with MND. It provides suggestions for best practice in AAC provision, and where to find more information.
Where do I start?
In England, funding for communication aids for individuals with complex needs falls under NHS England specialised commissioning. This means that if any individual meets the criteria for complex AAC assessment, their assessment and provision will be funded by NHS England, through a specialist AAC service.
Fifteen NHS England specialist AAC services have been set up for the assessment and provision of complex AAC via specialised commissioning.
If a person doesn’t meet the criteria for a specialist AAC service assessment, their needs should be met by their local speech and language therapist and community team, who are expected to provide more basic, low-tech equipment. Any equipment the person needs would have to be funded by their local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). This may demand local negotiation.
In Wales, the Expert Panel on Electronic Communication Aids has recommended that provision of communication aids should be delivered through a hub and spoke model and broadly follow the systems now in place in England.
The hub will be based at the All Wales Electronic and Assistive Technology (EAT) Service at the Rookwood Centre in Cardiff. Local spoke services will be created in each local health board area.
Funding has been agreed by the Minister for Health and Social Services for permanent staff and an additional ring-fenced investment for high-tech equipment for two years.
In Northern Ireland there are five health and social care trusts. Within each, there is a speech and language therapy (SLT) service that covers both adult and children’s services.
People who have communication problems are referred to their local SLT service. For many people, any communication support needs are met within local SLT services.
Where the local trust team require support for their AAC assessment, referral can be made by the local SLT to the Communication Advice Centre service (CAC). The CAC service is a multidisciplinary team who support local teams with AAC assessment and decision making. The service is based in the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust but accepts referrals from SLTs across Northern Ireland.
Where can I seek funding outside of my own organisation or the NHS?
- charities/third sector organisations (Some employers have charities associated with previous employment, such as the armed forces or civil service)
- self-funding – especially through consumer products (tablets, laptops)
- Access to Work funds equipment to keep people in their employment
- if statutory support has been explored but is not available, or there are delays in accessing suitable equipment, the MND Association may be able to offer financial assistance through our MND Support Grant scheme.