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Forum wrap: The role of allied health assistants and tele-health in NDIS remote service delivery

Forum wrap: The role of allied health assistants and tele-health in NDIS remote service delivery

An eager audience welcomed key speaker, Dr Kim Bulkeley (University of Sydney) to the WorkAbility Queensland NTSSS Allied Health Assistants and Tele-health forum in Cairns on 22 February 2019.

Dr Bulkeley presented information on the successful utilisation of allied health assistants and tele-practice in an ‘Outback’ service delivery model, trialled by the University of Sydney research team in remote New South Wales.

Key findings included the importance of engaging local allied health assistances to aid allied health professionals in the delivery of support services to clients.

Dr Bulkeley said that some of the previous barriers surrounding the uptake of Allied Health Assistants (AHAS) were now breaking down-through information sharing and collaboration with Allied Health Professionals who come to appreciate the role Allied Health Assistants can play in supporting their remote clients.

Those barriers included confusion around boundaries and the scope of the role, distance between the AHAs and the therapist, and inadequate therapist supervision skills.

In terms of tele-practice, Dr Bulkeley said it is “emerging in the therapy space, with speech pathologists leading the way, in the literature and most likely practice”.

She said much more can be done to take advantage of tele-practice in the remote delivery of services and directed the audience to the “Tele-practice for children with complex disability: Guidelines for quality allied health services” from the University of Sydney website.

In her presentation, Dr Bulkeley also outlined some of the positive findings of the National Disability Services project on the delivery of Allied Health Skill Set training in regional areas of Tasmania.

She said the Allied Health Skill Set had a good completion rate of 78 per cent, and the delivery of the Skill Set influenced the sector to consider the AHA role and the need for allied health supports to be included in NDIS plans.

A Q&A Panel discussion followed the presentation and the audience heard from speakers including: Kim Bulkeley (USyd), Padmini Saxena (NDIA), Tina Ison (WorkAbility Queensland), Jo Neville (Apunipima), and Kerry Stingel (FNQ Allied Health Association).

Audience participation added to the range of topics under discussion including the importance of following up on exploring the utilisation of Allied Health Assistants in Far North Queensland.

To this end, a WorkAbility Far North Queensland Allied Health & Tele-Health Working Group formed to continue the momentum of discussions and to investigate the options of Assistant training in the region.

“The formation of the Allied Health & Tele-Health Working Group is an exciting prospect,” said WorkAbility FNQ Local Co-ordinator, Dr Deb Selway. “It opens up the potential to collaborate with Allied Health professionals in the region to further explore the utilisation of Allied Health Assistants, particularly in remote Cape York and Torres Strait communities.”

For further information please contact Deb Selway on deb.selway@nds.org.au, or by phone at 0459 871 650.

WorkAbility Queensland