Online speech and OT. The next best thing to being there

Simone Dudley1, Sue Cameron2

1Therapy Connect, PO Box 1322, Deniliquin. NSW 2710, simone@therapyconnect.com.au
2Therapy Connect, 340 Ridge Road, Henty, Victoria, 3312, sue@therapyconnect.com.au

Rural Australians have a lack of services and a lack of choices. Families have limited choice of appointment times or choice of providers. Difficulties with recruitment and retention of a rural Allied Health workforce can result in an inexperienced workforce and a lack of continuity of staff. Telepractice provides another choice for families. Families can access online therapy services at the time when they are needed and at the frequency they choose.

The emerging evidence for teletherapy is promising. Comparisons of face-to-face and virtual interventions are finding equivalent results. Families saving time and the expense of traveling to appointments are finding it to be an acceptable alternative.

We will provide an overview of the evidence about the efficacy and acceptability of providing speech and occupational therapy remotely.

We will describe the technology requirements needed, how we coach the parent or therapy assistant, accommodations needed to provide online therapy including adapting and preparing therapy materials, using web based programs and strategies for keeping children engaged in teletherapy.

Our case studies will highlight some of the many benefits of using teletherapy to deliver services. For example, teletherapy encourages a family centred and focused approach. Families remain the center, determining outcomes and goals for themselves and their children. Children are able to remain in their natural settings; home, school and childcare. Teletherapy promotes a strong focus on capacity building practices with families, carers and educators. Collaboration with other therapists using videoconferencing increases opportunities to provide best practice service to rural children and families.

Biography

Simone DudleyBAppSc(OT), Grad Cert Hlth Sc(OT), BA Ed (Primary)Simone is a registered paediatric occupational therapist and co-director of Therapy Connect, a unique online private therapy service providing online speech an occupational therapy supports to children and families who live in Australia and overseas. Simone has a special interest in working online with families by providing goal based information, strategies and coaching interventions. Simone is based in regional Australia and is committed to contributing to evidence that supports telepractice as an acceptable & effective service delivery method for families who are unable to easily access face to face therapy.