It takes a village: A partnership to provide speech pathology placements and clinical services

Michelle Smith-Tamaray1, Ruth Mulligan2, Chelsea Hillennaar3

1 School of Community Health, Charles Sturt University, PO Box 789, Albury, 2640. mchsmith@csu.edu.au
2 Alpine Health, 30 O’Donnell Avenue, Myrtleford, 3736. Ruth.mulligan@alpinehealth.org.au
3 Alpine Health, 30 O’Donnell Avenue, Myrtleford, 3736. Chelsea.hillennaar@alpinehealth.org.au

Background

Provision of allied health services within the residential care sector is an ongoing challenge due to a number of factors, including costs and access. This is particularly evident in rural settings, where availability of services is exacerbated by distance. A collaborative approach between a rural, multi-site health service and a university program has been developed to address an identified need for speech pathology services. This paper will present data from an ongoing evaluation of this student speech pathology service, and the challenges and benefits experienced by the stakeholders involved.

Method

A mixed method approach is being utilised, including audits, surveys, and interviews. The program is being evaluated from 3 perspectives: benefits to the service, benefits to the residents and benefits to the students. Descriptive statistics, content and thematic analysis are being undertaken.

Results

Preliminary data suggest positive outcomes for all stakeholders involved. The service has received an increased number of speech pathology consults, and has also assisted in identifying areas of focus for quality assurance initiatives. Students have reported positively on the program, both from the perspective of skill development as well as their attitudes to working within the aged care setting. Current data collection is focused on residents’ and nurses’ reports, as well as some of the challenges encountered, with ongoing evaluation being undertaken.

Discussion

This partnership has resulted in development of a model for increased opportunities for clinical placements, as well as provision of difficult to access speech pathology services for residential care in a rural area.

Biography

Michelle is a lecturer within the Speech Pathology program at Charles Sturt University. She has experience working in both generalist and adult-specific positions across a range of clinical settings, as well asundertaking management roles and student supervision. She has also served as a member on local health and education organisation boards, as well as Department of Health working parties. Michellehas an interest in rural health and equity issues, particularly in the provision of services to adults.

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