Virtual care hybrid model the new norm for children’s speech pathology team The uptake of virtual care across NSLHD skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is now the new norm for the district’s children’s speech
pathology department. The pandemic may have been the catalyst for the department to increase its use of virtual care, but today more than half of all appointments taking place are conducted virtually. The success of virtual care in the department is largely due to a hybrid model the team has implemented, said Anastasia Scott, NSLHD Primary and Community Health – Child, Youth and Family Health speech pathology team leader. “Most children now start with a virtual appointment with us and we can assess and see whether they then need to come in for a face-to-face appointment,” she said. “It gives families flexibility, such as if they have a child sick at home and can’t come into the clinic we can run the appointment virtually.
“This means sessions have continuity rather than parents having to cancel and re-book.” Anastasia said a key benefit of virtual care is the ability to see children in their natural environment. “Virtual care is particularly effective where we are looking at the parent and child interaction in the family’s home – it adds clinical effectiveness,” she said. Feedback from parents has led to parent groups moving online from in-person to allow more than one parent to attend and so they can take part from the comfort of their home. Samantha D’aft said her daughter Lucie was a “late talker” and has been visiting the RNSH children’s speech pathology clinic since she was two-years-old.
“As a COVID toddler, Lucie didn’t know any different when doing virtual sessions,” Samantha said. “A mix of virtual and face-to-face appointments has worked really well for her. “Megan [speech pathologist] has been really great at keeping Lucie engaged in online sessions and reading the situation when she was tired and no longer focused by doing a fun game to finish up.” The virtual sessions also made it easier for Samantha on her work days. “Online appointments are more convenient, being able to log on a minute before,” she said. “When Lucie may have been too sick to go into the clinic, we could still carry on with appointments from home.”
Lucie and speech pathologist Megan during a virtual care appointment
12 NSLHD 2022 Year in Review
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