What does this service provide?

Who we are 

In our team we have clinical scientists, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, technical support staff and administrators. 

What we do 

We assess and provide high-tech communication aids for spoken communication for children and adults who meet the NHS England eligibility criteria with complex needs in Surrey and Sussex (including Brighton and Hove).  

During an appointment, we may try out different communication aids or computers, access devices (for example, switches, eyegaze cameras) and different software on the communication aid or computer.  

This can take a couple of hours and up to several appointments depending on the patient’s needs. We take the lead from the patient and if they need a break or need the appointment to continue another day then we will do so.  

The referring therapist is very important during the assessment as they know the patient and will be involved in supporting them once they have their device. They are also responsible for the patient’s ongoing care. 

Appointment information 

Appointment types 

We see people in a wide variety of different settings including within their home, care home, day centre, at school, and at Chailey Clinical Services. Before an appointment, we will send you an appointment letter and say where we are meeting you. 

Who you'll see 

In our team we have clinical scientists, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, and technical support staff.  Depending on the needs of the person being referred, different people from the team might attend the assessment and handover. 

How can I access this service?

We receive referrals from statutory funded Health Care Professions Council (HCPC) registered therapists, education, or social care professionals.

If there are any issues once you have been accepted into our service, it is best to contact the professional who referred you for the quickest resolution.

Our service specification is set by NHS England. More information can be found in Annex 3 (page 20) of the service specification. Please also see our decision chart in Annex 2 (page 19).

We are only able to see people who meet our service criteria. This does not mean that people who do not meet our criteria would not benefit from Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). For those who do not meet our criteria we recommend talking to your speech and language therapist about what might be beneficial and other sources of funding.

Who can be referred to Chailey Communication Aid Service?

We see the complex 10% of people who need a communication device in Surrey and Sussex (including Brighton and Hove).

Someone being referred to our service would have both:

  • a severe or complex communication difficulty associated with a range of physical, cognitive, learning, or sensory deficits
  • a clear discrepancy between their level of understanding and ability to speak.

In addition, they must:

  • be able to understand the purpose of a communication aid
  • have developed beyond cause and effect understanding

and may:

  • have experience of using low tech Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) which is insufficient to enable them to realise their communicative potential

If someone has a rapidly deteriorating condition they can be referred to our service if it is thought that they will meet the acceptance criteria within the 18 week period of the referral being made.

A good time to refer someone with a deteriorating condition is when they are still able to access a touchscreen directly when they are well and alert but who find using a touchscreen when they are tired difficult.

Who should not be referred to Chailey Communication Aid Service?

People with low language abilities, people who can use a keyboard (touch screen or accessory) using one or both hands, people who primarily need a communication device because they have a sensory impairment (for example, a hearing impairment) or people who primarily want to use a device as a computer rather than for communication.

The referral form

We base our decision on whether someone meets our acceptance criteria on the information provided on the referral form. We ask that referring therapists provide sufficient detail on the referral form. If the patient’s ability to use their hands is getting worse please detail what they can still do and cannot do, how fast their ability is deteriorating and if their abilities fluctuate throughout the day.

Please also tell us what you have already tried, including what apps, whether these trials were successful and if not, why not. If someone already has a device, please tell us which device they have, what software and symbols they use and why this device needs replacing. If you can send pictures and videos of the client communicating using their low-tech strategies that really helps us to determine if the patient meets our criteria, enabling us to plan our assessment more effectively.

How can I contact this service?

Contact details
Telephone: 01825 721 506
Where to find us
Address: Chailey Communication Aid Service (CCAS), Chailey Clinical Services, Beggars Wood Road, North Chailey, BN8 4JN

You can find us using the what3words address snippet below on the what3words website:

Alternatively, use the Google map below to get directions and plan your journey:

Opening times

We are open Monday to Friday, from 9:00am to 5:00pm (excluding bank holidays).

The building where we are based is open:  

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, from 8:45am to 5:00pm. 

Friday, from 8:45am to 4:30pm.

Waiting times

We aim to see patients as soon as we can, ideally within 6 weeks of a referral being received and accepted. Patients referred are prioritised based on needWe ask that therapists indicate on the referral form when they and the person they are referring can attend an appointment. If the referrer and the patient being referred can offer more days for an appointment, we have more chance of booking an appointment more quickly.

Where can I find resources for this service?

Charities for specific conditions

Ataxia UK - Ataxia UK provides information, advice and support to people affected by ataxia. They also support medical research into causes and potential therapies 

Dystonia Society - Dystonia Society support for people with dystonia, and their families. They promote awareness, publish literature and are involved in medical research and welfare. 

Headway – the brain injury association - Headway is the UK-wide charity that works to improve life after brain injury. Through its network of over 125 groups and branches across the UK, it provides support, services and information to brain injury survivors, their families and carers, and professionals in the health and legal fields. 

Huntington’s Disease Association - The Huntington’s Disease Association supports families affected by Huntington’s disease. They are a client organisation which provides care, advice, support and education to families and professionals caring for someone with the illness, the individual themselves, and those at risk of developing it. 

Motor Neurone Disease Association - The Motor Neurone Disease Association supports people affected by motor neurone disease to ensure that they receive the highest standards of care in order to achieve quality of life.  They provide a helpline, information, equipment loan, financial support, a network of regional care advisers, local branches and volunteer visitors and fund research into the causes of MND. 

Multiple Sclerosis Society - The Multiple Sclerosis Society provides support and information for people affected by multiple sclerosis through a network of branches, a helpline and a range of publications. They are involved in research into multiple sclerosis and policy work and campaigns on MS issues. They also provides respite and holiday homes. 

Multiple Sclerosis Trust - The Multiple Sclerosis Trust supports people with multiple sclerosis, their families and friends, and the health and social care professionals who work with them. They provide information about multiple sclerosis; education for nurses and other professionals; undertake research which is relevant to people who live with multiple sclerosis; and support multiple sclerosis specialist nurses 

Multiple System Atrophy Trust - The Multiple System Atrophy Trust provides information and support to people living with multiple system atrophy and their families.  They raise awareness of the condition and its treatment, especially among healthcare professionals; and are involved in medical research into causes of MSA, potential therapies and ultimately its cure. 

Muscular Dystrophy UK - Muscular Dystrophy UK is the charity for individuals and families living with muscle-wasting conditions. 

Parkinson’s UK - Parkinson’s UK provides support, information and advice to people with Parkinson’s and their carers and families. They also fund medical research into causes of Parkinson’s and potential therapies 

Royal National Institute of the Blind (RNIB) - The RNIB supports people affected by sight loss.  They provide care, advice, support and education to people affected by sight loss and campaign to make society a more inclusive place. 

Scope - Scope exists to make this country a place where disabled people have the same opportunities as everyone else. With your support, we'll keep driving change across society until this country is great for everyone. 

The Stroke Association - The Stroke Association is the UK’s leading charity dedicated to conquering stroke. We provide information, support and advice to help stroke survivors make the best recovery they can. 

Other useful contacts

The Advocate’s Gateway - Useful information, services and resources, especially regarding communication aids in the justice system.  

Call Scotland - CALL Scotland is a Research and Development centre as well as a working Service unit. Both elements are necessary and important – they inform, enrich and support each other. 

CALL has a practical hands-on approach to working with individual pupils in schools. As a result, CALL research and development work is always firmly ‘grounded’ in the real needs of pupils, teachers and families. At the same time, the academic and specialist technological knowledge developed from research and development supports the centre’s service work. 

Communication Matters - Communication Matters is a UK charity that promotes the best possible communication for people with complex communication needs. 

A series of 8 leaflets on AAC produced by Communication Matters 

Communication Matters are also developing free online resource called AAC E-Learning  

Disability Matters - Disability Matters offers free resources to support those who work, volunteer or engage with disabled children and young people (from 0 to 25 years) and their families. It seeks to address the barriers that make society disabling. The resources have been developed by disabled young people, parents, carers and other experts.  Disability Matters aims include raising the profile and awareness of disability and issues that affect everyday life and to help young people overcome the social barriers they face. They also aim to support people who work with disabled young people, including employers, to better support and respond to needs of disabled young people and their families. 

ISAAC (International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication) - ISAAC works to improve the lives of children and adults who use AAC. Their vision is that AAC will be recognized, valued and used throughout the world. ISAAC’s mission is to promote the best possible communication for people with complex communication needs. ISAAC accomplishes this by sharing information and promoting innovative approaches to research, technology and literacy through AAC. Activities include hosting the ISAAC biennial conference, sponsoring projects, and offering awards and scholarships. 

NHS England - NHS England is a commissioning board for health services across England. Its ambition is to place the clients and the public at the heart of everything we do in the NHS. 

1Voice – Communicating Together - 1voice is a charity that organises national and regional events for people who use communication aids, their families and professionals working with them. 

Understand Me - The Communication Library  - West Sussex - West Sussex County Council Library Services - Understand Me - The Communication Library provide a range of free resources to anyone who needs help with communication.  All you need is a library card. 

Environmental Control Services for Surrey and Sussex (incl. Brighton and Hove) 

The Assistive Technology Service provides electronic assistive technology to severely disabled people in Surrey and West Sussex. It is part of St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust based at Queen Mary’s Hospital Roehampton London SW15. 

Contact Clare Oakley: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
: 020 8487 6084 / 020 8487 6085 

They provide electronic assistive technology to severely disabled people in the East Sussex and Brighton & Hove region. 

Contact Kathryn Thom, clinical manager: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
: 01634 833923 


AAC Assessment Online Learning Modules 

These resources were supported by 

NHS Education Scotland, and produced by Manchester Metropolitan (Dr Janice Murray, Helen, Bell, Helen Whittle, Osman Javaid) in collaboration with Sara Dale, the ACE Centre, and Janet Scott, Scottish Centre of Technology for the Communication Impaired (SCTCI). 

IPAACKS Framework 

IPAACKS: Informing and Profiling AAC Knowledge and Skills. This Education and Development Framework describes the core values, commitments, knowledge and skills required by those who work with people who use, or who may benefit from, AAC. 

Chailey Communication Aid Service FAQs

Chailey Clinical Services

List of other AAC Specialist Services (Hubs)

List of other AAC Specialist Services (Hubs).

Chailey Clinical Services

Low tech communication strategies

Strategies to help aid communication.

Chailey Clinical Services

Get the best from your NHS

If you want to share a compliment, raise a concern or if you are just not sure who to speak to you can contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS).