Therapy at Horizons College

Horizons College has an integrated NHS Therapy Team comprising of an Occupational Therapist, Physiotherapist, Speech & Language Therapist, and Registered Nurse. Services are integrated and based within the college setting.

Meet the Horizons College Therapy Team

Paula Baxter-Jones

Occupational Therapy

Claire Finch


Amy Smith

Speech and Language Therapy

Anne Hanafin-Smith


Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy (OT) is a healthcare profession that works to enable and promote participation and completion of daily living skills within both the educational and the community setting.  Occupational Therapists take a “whole-person approach” to both mental and physical health and wellbeing.

Occupational Therapists assess and support individual well-being, function, physical, cognitive, sensory and communication needs. They use a holistic approach to provide strategies, techniques, and interventions that develop and enhance daily living skills and purposeful activities.

The OT works across the whole college curriculum.  Learners at Horizons College have individual and varying needs and abilities.  Occupational therapy aims to provide a bespoke service through a variety of methods in order to promote learners’ optimal well-being and potential.


Physiotherapy aims to support and promote physical independence and works particularly with those who have difficulty with bigger (gross) movements including mobility, balance and posture.

The physiotherapist provides a range of bespoke assessments, interventions and programmes to meet the physical health needs of students. These interventions are integrated and delivered throughout the college day by the staff supporting the student resulting in maximal impact on their physical function and enhancing their ability to participate and access the learning opportunities within the college and beyond.

Physiotherapy can assess a student’s needs through a variety of methods. These may include direct observation, standardised/non-standardised assessments, communication with the student/family/carer and reviewing his/her EHCP and other previous reports available.

The physiotherapist provides training, advice and feedback to teaching and support staff to implement each student’s specific physiotherapy interventions to achieve their agreed targets and goals.  These interventions may include the use of specialist equipment such as standing frames as part of their ongoing 24- hour postural management programme.  The physiotherapist also supports the college in its provision of aquatic therapy and takes an active role in general health promotion.

The physiotherapist works in partnership with the individual’s wider network of care, including parents/carers and external services such as community therapists, medical practitioners, social care and equipment services to ensure a thorough and  holistic approach aiming for smooth transitions between college, home and the wider community.

SALT  -  Integrated Speech and Language Therapy      

A Speech and Language Therapist (SaLT) supports in two areas: communication and eating/drinking/swallowing.

Communication support can include: understanding language, using language, vocabulary, speech sounds, social communication and use of AAC (augmentative and alternative communication: signs, symbols, eye gaze, communication aids, switches etc.).

Eating/drinking/swallowing support can include: assessment of swallowing, advice/support regarding safe methods of feeding, modified diet, use of thickened drinks etc.

The SaLT works across the whole college and provides individual, small group and in-class communication support for learners. Learners with the highest needs are prioritised to receive individual and/or small group support; other learners may receive whole-class support or indirect support, for example through staff training/upskilling or through communication resources/activities being provided for staff to work on during the college day.

The SaLT works as part of a multi-disciplinary team alongside teachers, learning support assistants, the senior leadership team, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and the college nurse to ensure that learners receive a holistic and integrated therapy approach. The SaLT also liaises with outside agencies where appropriate, for example other therapists and specialists in AAC/access to ICT for communication.

The SaLT provides information, resources, support and training for various communication methods such as:

  • Sign along

  • Use of visual supports such as symbols

  • Different AAC devices including eye gaze, Grid 3, switches and Go Talks.

The SaLT is an Elklan tutor. Elklan are speech and language trainers, and the SaLT completed Elklan’s Total Training Package for Pupils with Severe Learning Difficulties. Following this course various staff members completed the Speech and Language Support for Learners with SLD course, and these staff are now beginning the process of cascading this training throughout the college as part of Elklan’s Communication Friendly Setting award. Horizons College hopes to gain this recognition of being ‘communication friendly’ via encouragement of a Total Communication approach across the college and by training/upskilling staff to support communication skills.

Currently eating and drinking difficulties are managed via the community learning disability team’s SaLT, as the college SaLT is not yet dysphagia trained. The community SaLT comes into college as requested to observe and assess learners at mealtimes, produces reports and recommendations based on the findings, and monitors/re-assesses learners as appropriate.


Horizons College also has a part-time registered nurse working as part of the therapy team.

The role of the nurse is to use clinical skills, knowledge and experience to provide a holistic approach to the health care needs of our learners.

The nurse provides individual professional advice and written health care plans to college staff and carers based on the needs of the learner and advises how his/her needs can be met. Advice is also provided on risk assessments, capacity and best interests, monitoring and administration of medication including side effects, and what to do in an emergency.

The nurse regularly reviews health care plans in consultation with families, carers, learners, college staff and the wider multidisciplinary team including other healthcare professional outside of the college e.g. GP's and dieticians. 

Training for staff around epilepsy, nutrition (e.g. PEG feeds), diabetes and much more is also provided.

 Therapy Resources

Royal College for Occupational Therapy

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy 

Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists

NHS website

Social Stories and Communication Resources

PPE Social Story

Social Distancing Story

Hand Washing Social Story

Communication Strategies

Communication Activities and Games