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Allied Health Research: Virtual care and beyond

Allied Health Research Conference 2022.

SydneyConnect Video: Harriet Blundell’s story

Single mum Harriet 'Harrie' Bundell and her daughter Katie have grown closer and spend lots of time together, even though they don't share the same taste in movies.

With help from Sydney Local Health District's Child and Family Allied Health team, they participated in a virtual Positive Parenting Program - or Triple P - during a COVID-19 lockdown.

"Our entire life has changed, basically, in the time that we've been accessing the system, for the better," Harrie said.

Katie has ADHD and congenital hypothyroidism, which affects the functioning of her thyroid gland.

Completing Triple P has helped Harrie to become a better role model and to learn new ways to respond to Katie by reinforcing her positive behaviour.

Living close to the Forest Lodge Child and Family Health Centre made access to support easy for Harrie and Katie, and the transition to an online program helped meet their needs.

One of the District's social workers Cate Medcraft, who runs Triple P, said while the move from face-to-face to virtual program delivery had its challenges, it meant more people were able to participate.

"For a lot of clients, telehealth made it so much more accessible. We had fewer dropouts, people came to most of the sessions and fit it around, if they had a sick child, or if they were working, a lot of people booked out their lunch time. We had a few more couples than we would normally have."

Harrie and Katie's story was featured at this year's Allied Health Research Conference: Zooming past the pandemic and into the future, which provided an opportunity to acknowledge advances in the field and for staff to share the success of their research.

"It's very exciting to celebrate all the wonderful clinicians who have been working hard throughout the pandemic to not just do their jobs, but still manage to do research for the betterment of their patients," Professor Jennifer Alison, Professor of Respiratory Physiotherapy at The University of Sydney and the District's Professor of Allied Health.

The conference included talks about the uptake of virtual care and delivery methods, such as telehealth, challenges for the future and highlighted several successful programs that have adapted to these environments.

Researchers presented work on data analysis and clinical trials, health services research, co-design and reviews on clinical management protocols.

The winners of research awards were also named.

  • Best Submitted Abstract: Rebekah Rajakone (Speech Pathology)
  • Best Oral Presentation - Virtual Care & Pivot to Pandemic: Clinical Associate Professor Lissa Spencer (Physiotherapy)
  • Best Oral Presentation - Clinical Trials: Vanessa Nube (Podiatry)
  • Best Oral Presentation - Health Services Research & Codesign: Laura Yeates (Cardiac Genetic Counsellor)
  • Best Oral Presentation - Retrospective Data Analysis: Dr Suzie Ferrie (Nutrition and Dietetics)
  • Best Rapid Presentations:
    • Dr Nicola Clayton (Speech Pathology)
    • Min Jiat Teng (Physiotherapy)

It was also an avenue for patients, like Harrie, to provide feedback about their experiences.

"I want to thank everyone. Having the option to do mental health online is fabulous. If they can, they should keep going with it."

Triple P is part of a pilot research project between the District and the University of Queensland and delivered through the District's Community Health Centres.

To find more parenting resources and for details about how to access Triple P, please visit https://www.resourcingparents.nsw.gov.au/