Providing the right health care to the right people at the right time

Ms Courtney Ward-Jackson1

1Northeast Health Wangaratta, Wangaratta, Australia

Aim: Northeast Health Wangaratta (NHW) is committed to providing high quality rural health care.  The Community Health Speech Pathology Service at NHW provides single disciplinary assessment and intervention to children birth to school age, and adults over 18 years with swallowing and communication difficulties.

As of January, 2016, NHW Community Health Speech Pathology Services waiting times were significant, with 28 Priority 1 referrals (for example, people referred for swallowing difficulties or stuttering) waiting 11 months for an initial assessment and 129 Priority 2 referrals (for example, people referred for articulation or voice concerns) waiting 22 months for an initial assessment.  Consequently a review of the Speech Pathology service delivery model was recommended.

Method: Between January and June, 2016 the Speech Pathology Services processes, therapy pathways and intervention options were reviewed and updated.  This was achieved through consultation with peer organisations and best practice research.

Results: In July, 2016 the NHW Community Health Speech Pathology Service introduced its reviewed service delivery model which included the introduction of weekly, fortnightly and monthly therapy options, along with Allied Health Assistant lead therapy, group therapy, home programs, and periodic review pathways.  After 3 months of implementation, the service saw both Priority 1 and 2 referrals waiting less than 4 weeks for an initial assessment.

Significance of the finding to allied health: Innovative service delivery, paired with evidence based intervention provides quality and timely, evidenced based health care in rural Victorians.