As we wrap up the year, we’d like to focus on the incredible work of our Allied Services and Wellbeing (ASW) team, who embraced new and innovative ways to continue to support our customers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In line with government restrictions, Yooralla's Therapy services promptly shifted to telehealth at the start of the pandemic.
Jennifer Carlisle, Yooralla Speech Pathologist, who would see customers in their home, childcare, kinder or school prior to the pandemic, has been using Zoom to deliver her sessions.
Jennifer quickly adapted her strategies to suit the new telehealth arrangements, by “finding materials online, like storybooks being read aloud on YouTube and developing matching resources to work with the particular story”.
Despite the change in circumstances, Jennifer has seen some of her customers “make significant progress over the last months”.
Max was one such customer, who “has made such remarkable progress” that she said was due to the increased frequency of his sessions.
“With telehealth, we could fit his sessions in before school as we didn’t need to factor in travel time,” said Jennifer.
This allowed Max to receive two, half-hour sessions a week where he was fully engaged with Jennifer, rather than one, hour-long session once a week, after school hours when he was tired.
“In the last three to four months, Max has come so far and online service delivery has really suited him. It has removed some barriers to service,” said Jennifer.
Telehealth “has worked really well for Max and I think has contributed to a significant increase in his literacy skills. Not having to travel is also a benefit and has meant less time off school,” said Belinda, Max’s mum.
“The impact [of telehealth] has been huge. Having two focused sessions in a week has meant the level of repetition has increased and he has managed to hold onto some of the learnings. It is a much better structure for Max,” said Belinda.
Telehealth also allowed some customers to optimise their National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) funds for their Therapy services, as they are no longer using their funds to pay for a Therapist’s travel time.
While Therapists do rely on face-to-face interactions with customers, there may be room to incorporate telehealth into standard practice post the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Some customers may want to continue the telehealth arrangements for a portion of their sessions and see each other in person to complete face-to-face activities”, said Jennifer.
“It could be a great mix, and it would allow some families to become more involved as well. Some of the parents of children I usually would see at school are enjoying being part of their child’s online session.
“Also in situations where another member of the household is ill, we could use telehealth to see our client. This would mean Therapists aren’t exposed to illness and the customer doesn’t miss out on their appointment,” she said.