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NHS England Assessment

Specialist AAC Service supporting the North West and Thames Valley & Wessex regions

or call our advice line on 0800 080 3115

NHS England assessments

Ace Centre is commissioned by NHS England to provide specialised AAC services across the North West and Wessex & Thames Valley NHSE specialised commissioning regions. These services are for children and adults who need AAC and meet NHSE eligibility criteria.

Am I eligible for an NHS England assessment?

To be eligible for the NHS England Specialised AAC Services, a person must:

  • Be resident in England
  • Be registered with a GP practice in England
  • Have a severe/complex communication difficulty associated with a range of physical, cognitive, learning, or sensory deficits
  • Have a clear discrepancy between their level of understanding and their ability to speak
  • Be able to understand the purpose of a communication aid
  • Have developed beyond cause and effect understanding
  • Link ideas/ semantic categories and syntactic functions beyond basic requests.

If you don't fit this criteria you can still get an Ace Centre assessment. See our self-funded assessments page for more details.

The referral form

Referrals for an assessment are accepted for people who meet NHSE eligibility criteria from publicly funded health, education and social care professionals. Please read our guidance documentation and complete all sections with detailed information and supporting evidence using this referral form.

Video support

A recent video of the individual is requested to support the referral. This will help the assessment and training team to plan for the assessment and determine what equipment may be required. Ideally, the video should aim to show the individual:

  • Interacting and communicating with others (showing any resources they use)
  • Accessing a computer or other technology
  • Completing activities that demonstrate the physical movements they are capable of
  • In the typical range of positions they work in

Further information can be found in our Video Guidelines Form.

Prior to the assessment

Once your completed referral form has been received and accepted as eligible for Specialised BNHSE AAC services it will be allocated to two members of the assessment and training team who will complete the assessment. They will then make the necessary arrangements for the assessment and confirm this in writing to the individual being referred and their referrer.

Who should be involved?

Ace Centre recognises and values the benefits of a partnership approach when completing assessments. The individual, family members and any professionals identified on the referral form will be invited to the assessment unless otherwise stated. This may include the individual’s Speech and Language Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Teacher and/or Support Worker depending upon the individual’s needs.

The venue

Assessments are typically completed in an environment familiar to the individual. This may be the person’s home, school/college, day centre or workplace. However, your assessment appointment may be offered at Ace Centre offices, where this is possible and practicable.

Length of assessment

The length of time required for the initial assessment appointment will vary but typically takes place over the course of a day. On some occasions it may be necessary to make subsequent visits. The timings for the assessment will be agreed with the referrer initially and subject to modification if necessary.

What happens at the assessment?

Typically, two members of the assessment and training team will facilitate the assessment. The session will commence with a general discussion with everyone concerned providing an opportunity to share any relevant information and agree aims and expectations.

During the assessment the individual will have an opportunity to demonstrate any resources they currently use and they will be supported in trying out alternative resources and strategies that might be suitable. It may be necessary to work for short periods, with breaks to set up different equipment and work within the individual’s levels of attention, motivation and stamina.

At the end of the assessment, it is useful for the group meet again to discuss and consider potential recommendations in order to reach shared conclusions and appropriate solutions.

Following the assessment

The identified equipment will be purchased and a date will be agreed for the installation and initial training in its use with the individual and their team. Information will be given about what to do in the event of equipment failure and Ace Centre will contact you in the future to undertake a Planned Preventative Maintenance (PPM) Check to ensure the equipment is operating safely.

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NHS England referral form

Get the latest Specialised AAC Services Referral Form

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Information appointments

A useful first step in any effective assessment process