29th July 2020
Children in Dublin have been able to resume vital speech and language therapy in a fun and interactive new way.
With face-to-face therapy impossible since the beginning of the pandemic, parents had become worried that their children would start to regress. But the speech and language team in CHO Dublin North City and County (DNCC) have begun using available technology to provide online support and get the sessions restarted.
The response from families and children has been hugely positive. Responding to a survey, children, who as we all know are honest critics, said, “I liked telling my news and playing games with my therapist” and “It is lots of fun.”
More than anyone, parents and carers understand the need for support for children, particularly during these challenging times. One parent said, “I am just so relieved that we are having therapy sessions again, we are both really enjoying the sessions and I feel we are going forward again after nothing for the past months. I was worried as his language skills had started to regress when there was no therapy.”
Another parent explained, “The way the speech and Language Team work with him is so good and easy to understand in a simple way. Even though school is closed, we feel he still continues to learn new words and how to make sentences in different tenses.”
This survey was given to parents and children using the Dublin North Central Speech and Language Therapy Services. Sinéad Finn, Senior Speech and Language Therapist with that team, said it has been ‘brilliant’ to get back to providing therapy.
“Many parents worry their child was forgetting or losing skills we had previously worked on. By using Attend Anywhere we have been able to restart our work on therapy goals such as building listening skills, telling news, understanding language concepts and making long sentences.”
Sinéad explained how it works.
“Therapy sessions use a mix of virtual activities, like on-screen games, which we can screen share with children and parents, and real pictures and objects held up to the screen. We send parents pictures or games in advance of the session and ask the child and parent to use toys or other items that they have in their homes as part of the sessions.
“As the parents are there for the session, they are becoming more active participants in their child’s therapy. This is a brilliant outcome for us as a team as this goal is at the core of everything we do.”
Gráinne McKenna, senior speech and language therapist, also complimented the online platform.
“It’s user-friendly and allows us to connect with people at a convenient time for both of us. I like that the link remains the same for all appointments. Parents have commented on the superior quality of connection, the clear steps and the ease of access to the speech and language therapist during these times.”
Attend Anywhere is mainly delivered through one-to-one sessions with individual children and their parents. The survey found that parents and children across Dublin North would be happy to use Attend Anywhere again and all parents reported that they felt their child benefited from therapy delivered via Attend Anywhere.
Mellany McLoone, Chief Officer, CHO DNCC, welcomed the approach, saying, “I’m very supportive of initiatives such as this and proud of the way our staff, children and their parents have adapted to new ways of working to support delivery of healthcare services. We will be living with COVID-19 for the foreseeable future so how, where and who will deliver our services will change quite significantly over the coming months.”
Nicola Byrne, Portfolio Management Lead in DNCC, supports services in the roll out of Attend Anywhere. She praised the team’s enthusiasm around using technology such as online appointments to deliver services.
“I am delighted that they engaged with the families using this to learn from them about their user experience, which is incredibly useful to our learning and improving the services we provide,” she said.