As COVID-19 began to spread in early 2020, it quickly became clear in March with the lockdown of schools and early childhood centres, that visits to clients’ homes could not take place and the Starting Points Allied Health Team would need to pivot to providing therapy sessions through Telehealth.
Therapists enrolled in Telehealth online courses delivered through Reimagine and their professional organisations to develop skills in managing online Zoom sessions, gathering all the resources they would need and contacting families to explain how Telehealth would work, in particular how to access sessions as well as what the parents’ role would be during these sessions.
A Telehealth consent form was developed and implemented, outlining both KU’s responsibilities and the families’ responsibilities, and sessions commenced.
Around half of the families accessing therapy before COVID-19 took up Telehealth sessions. Reasons for those who decided not to participate were the age of child, no access to computers, the nature of the child’s disability, family dynamics (as many families had a number of children and adults at home needing access to a computer) and English as a second language.
Total number of Telehealth hours in 2020
Therapists across KU delivered early intervention and allied health services in 2020
Total number of children who saw an Early Intervention Professional
Total number of Early Intervention Professionals (non KU)
Early Intervention Professionals (KU)
The Allied Health Team met on a weekly basis with their manager to support each other, exchange ideas and discuss the progress of Telehealth.
The rollout of Telehealth resulted in an unexpected outcome: parents became more actively involved in the sessions in ways they previously had not. Some children found it challenging to attend to a computer screen and the therapist would at these times coach the parent to take on the role of therapist. Parents would offer up ideas of toys they had at home that could be used in sessions and therapists noted more follow through on ideas and strategies by parents following these sessions, which enabled them to better support their child.
Telehealth proved to be very successful, and therapists are reporting, even after face to face therapy has restarted, that parents continue to maintain their interest and participation in Telehealth sessions.