Neonatal communication intervention is important in South Africa, which has an increased prevalence of infants born with risks for disabilities
and where the majority of infants live in poverty. Local literature showed a dearth of information on the current service delivery and
roles of speech-language therapists (SLTs) and audiologists in neonatal nurseries in the South African context. SLTs have the opportunity to
provide the earliest intervention, provided that intervention is well-timed in the neonatal nursery context. The aim of the research was to
compile a locally relevant neonatal communication intervention instrument/tool for use by SLTs in neonatal nurseries of public hospitals.
The study entailed descriptive, exploratory research. During phase 1, a survey was received from 39 SLTs and 2 audiologists in six provinces.
The data revealed that participants performed different roles in neonatal nurseries, which depended on the environment, tools, materials
and instrumentation available to them. Many participants were inexperienced, but resourceful in their attempts to adapt tools/materials.
Participants expressed needs for culturally appropriate and user-friendly instruments for parent guidance and staff/team training on the
topic of developmental care. During phase 2, a tool for parent guidance titled Neonatal communication intervention programme for parents was
compiled in English and isiZulu. The programme was piloted by three participants. Suggestions for enhancements of the programme were
made, such as providing a glossary of terms, adapting the programme’s language and terminology, and providing more illustrations. SLTs and
audiologists must contribute to neonatal care of high-risk infants to facilitate development and to support families.