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Telepractice partnership delivers for rural and remote Queensland kids

Children with hearing loss living in remote and rural areas experience barriers to accessing the therapy and support they need to develop their listening and spoken language to the same level as their hearing peers.  Often, accessing these services requires families having to travel to larger cities.

In partnership with QCoal Foundation, the recognised not-for-profit Hear and Say is delivering listening and spoken language services to North Queensland children who are deaf or hard of hearing, via telepractice from its Townsville Centre.

In keeping with the QCoal Foundation focus on building resilient rural and remote communities, the aim of the program, is to ensure that families in these areas can access the same quality services as families living in larger urban areas.  This program alleviates service delivery gaps for these families by providing Listening and Spoken Language (LSL) therapy via PC-based videoconferencing sessions to these children in their homes.

There are currently 12 families, from Mackay north, who access services via telepractice from the Townsville centre and a number of families who access both in-centre and telepractice arrangements.

In addition to these sessions, families have the opportunity to participate in a three-day intensive camp delivered by LSL, audiology and occupational therapy experts.

The 2018 camp in May was attended by ten children with hearing loss enrolled in the telepractice program; two children who receive services in-centre; six siblings; and 15 parents/carers. These three days saw a mix of children’s social skills group programs, parent education sessions, a visit from Ranger Dan and his hands-on reptile display, and individual audiology, LSL and occupational therapy appointments and assessment.

QCoal Foundation Program Coordinator Sylvia Bhatia said that she was very impressed with the delivery of the program and the technology used to support implementation.

“We were fortunate to sit in on a short component of the telepractice delivery and saw first hand the difference it was making to families,” she said.

Hear and Say CEO Chris McCarthy acknowledged QCoal Foundation for its continued support, and said his team looks forward to continuing to work together to open worlds for North Queensland children and families impacted by hearing loss.

“Together, Hear and Say and QCoal Foundation are working to ensure that children, regardless of where they live, have access to the services that will take their listening and speaking outcomes to optimum levels,” said Mr McCarthy.