Weekly versus fortnightly Allied Health early intervention for children with diagnosed/suspected developmental delay

Varvounis, N.1, Frost, J.1, Stott, J.1, Ward, E. 2, Lefmann, S. 2, Boyle, T. 2, Boshoff, K. 2

1 Northern Adelaide LHN, SA Health, 2 University of South Australia

 

Background and aims: NALHN Children & Families team provides Allied Health assessment and blocks of therapy for children with diagnosed/suspected developmental delays. This study compared the impact of a weekly versus fortnightly therapy model for client attendance rates, clinician caseload management and service efficiency.

Methods: A pre-post group comparison study was conducted between fortnightly intervention over 10 weeks in school term 2 and weekly intervention over 5 weeks in term 3. Pre- and post-intervention data on “did-not-attend” rates and clinical outcome measures (Canadian Occupational Performance Measure–COPM) were compared and open-ended data collected via questionnaires given to clinicians, carers and administrative staff.

Results: A non-statistically significant difference (P>0.05) between fortnightly (n=843) and weekly (n=1117) attendance rates (85.6% vs 84.3%) was recorded. No statistically significant difference between groups (group 1 n=25, group 2 n=29) (p>0.05) was obtained for the COPM pre-intervention versus post-intervention scores. Qualitative responses from parents (n=96) and clinicians (n=34) indicate a variety of preferences for intervention frequency, indicating the impact of individual child and family factors along with clinician workload pressures.

Conclusions: It is recommended that where possible, a flexible model of frequency for service delivery be adopted to suit the needs of children and families, in alignment with clinician clinical reasoning related to the intervention type for each child. Considerations to the decision making around frequency should include: child’s condition, type of therapy; relationship building with child and family, family practicalities, vulnerability of the family and benefits of contact time with the service.


Nicolette Varvounis

Nicolette is the Senior Manager of Speech Pathology for the Northern Adelaide Local Health Network which includes leadership of adult and paediatric Speech Pathology services in the acute and community settings. Nicolette has been working as a Speech Pathologist since 2009 with her professional background primarily including broad experience with the adult population presenting with swallowing and communications disorders in the acute setting.

Jessica Frost

Jessica is the Allied Health Clinical Educator for the Northern Adelaide Local Health Network, Allied Health Division which involves coordinating, developing and delivering divisional wide education to the allied health professions. Jessica has been working as a Physiotherapist since 2008 with her professional background primarily including broad experience in the adult acute care setting and providing clinical education to Physiotherapy students on placement.

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