This NZSTA Scope of Practice (Scope) aims to inform employers, the general public, and other professionals about the range of activities covered by the profession of speech-language therapy in Aotearoa New Zealand and the guiding governance framework we work within. It is a dynamic and changing profession; hence the Scope will require continuous revision to include new areas of activity for speech-language therapists in New Zealand.
The Scope outlines the breadth of professional practice within speech-language therapy. It describes the skills, knowledge, attitudes and ethical behaviour expected of practising members of the New Zealand Speech-language Therapists’ Association.
The Scope does not describe the education, experience, skill, or competency required to carry out those activities. A speech-language therapist does not typically work with all populations or practise in all contexts listed in this Scope. A speech-language therapist may only practice in areas they are deemed competent by their employer. Assessment of competency is made based on education, training and experience. Certain employment situations may necessitate a speech-language therapist to obtain further education or training to expand their scope of practice into new areas.
Given the unique context of the Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the significant diversity of cultures and languages, we are mindful of the need for culturally sensitive practice. We need to expand our definition of culture to include those ethnically diverse and consider the socioeconomic status and those who may belong to a religious group, follow a specific lifestyle, or even eat particular foods. These factors may influence the patient’s “views of disability, of western medical treatment, the roles of family members and clinicians, the different gender roles, and how we show respect” (Riquelme, 2004). Therefore, speech-language therapists working in Aotearoa New Zealand, must act with cultural sensitivity in all aspects of their service provision.
An additional framework we work within is the World Health Organisation’s International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) (WHO, 2001). One of the fundamental mainstays of the framework is to shift the focus of “disability” from cause to impact, thereby compelling professionals to take a holistic approach to their service provision. The ICF framework has substantially impacted how speech-language therapists view their contribution to the community and significantly informs their practice.