Growing our village size -using telehealth and assistants for group balance and mobility clinics across seven rural sites

Claire Taylor1, Lisa Baker2

1 Gayndah Rural Allied & Community Health, 69 Warton St, Gayndah, 4635, Claire.Taylor2@health.qld.gov.au
2 Gayndah Rural Allied & Community Health, 69 Warton St, Gayndah, 4635, Lisa.Baker@health.qld.gov.au

Background

The Wide Bay HHS has the highest population > 65 in Australia (21%). This elderly demographic are particularly prone to falls due to poor mobility and balance placing a burden on the acute health service. Gayndah Rural Allied & Community Health provides 3 FTE physiotherapists to service seven rural communities. A group balance class at each site was not viable due to lack of critical mass at each site. This challenge was addressed by developing a telehealth group clinic servicing all seven sites simultaneously utilising allied health assistants.

Methods

A group balance and mobility clinic was designed to provide education and exercise activities to people identified with a significant falls risk. The clinic was initially trialed in a single site in 2014 and then adapted for telehealth delivery using allied health assistants.

Results

Thirty three participants attended the telehealth group balance class in 2015. Outcome measures and client satisfaction surveys were collated as a quality activity indicating the viability and efficacy of a telehealth group balance class. Participants showed improvements in outcome measures that compared favourably with 2014 face-to-face delivery and patient satisfaction was very high. No adverse events occurred during the group class.

Discussion

The use of group telehealth and allied health assistants allowed greater accessibility for rural clients to balance and mobility services and afforded some additional benefits. Telehealth delivery of an exercise class poses unique service challenges. Adaptations to service delivery, tips on allied health assistant training and recommendations are discussed in the presentation.

Biography

Claire Taylor is a physiotherapist in a Queensland Health allied health rural graduate position with the Rural Allied & Community Health Team based in Gayndah.

Lisa Baker is a speech pathologist with a masters in remote health management and is the Rural Allied and Community Health team leader based in Gayndah.