Delivering Quality Allied Health Services to Children with Complex Disability via Telepractice: Lessons Learned from Four Case Studies
People with disabilities living in rural and remote areas often have insufficient access to the allied health services that they require. Telepractice has emerged as a promising solution, yet little is known about whether it is possible to deliver quality disability therapy services via technology or of the considerations required to achieve positive outcomes. Multiple case studies using mixed methods were conducted to achieve in-depth examination of the telepractice services received by four children with disabilities and their families living in rural and remote Australia. Data analysis indicated that telepractice services were highly acceptable to parents and teachers and supported children to achieve positive outcomes for a variety of functional goals related to speech-language pathology and occupational therapy. Findings indicated that quality telepractice can deliver services consistent with contemporary disability expectations. Of critical importance were the skills of allied health professionals to facilitate person-centred practice and strong therapeutic relationships with children, parents, and other stakeholders to achieve positive outcomes for children. Our findings indicate that telepractice is a legitimate option for therapy service delivery that has the potential to provide people with disabilities increased choice and control over the services they receive.
KeywordsTelehealth Allied health Disabilities Technology Speech pathology Occupational therapy
This research was supported by funding from auDA Foundation awarded to the University of Sydney.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
auDA Foundation grant awarded to the University of Sydney. The funding body had no input into study design, data collection, or interpretation of findings.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
Conflict of Interest
Authors SD and SC are allied health professionals who deliver telepractice services as part of their private practice. The children and their families described in this paper were clients of SD and SC, and SD and SC received payment for the services they provided as part of this study.
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