Meet the team
Speech and Language Therapy Service Manager
Homerton University Hospital
- England - London (North, East and Essex)
- Caroline McCallum
- Jenny Ray
What is the positive change that has emerged through new collaborations or partnerships during Covid-19 that your project is going to embed?
The closure of schools and the reduction in outpatient clinics made access to therapeutic support for children an immediate challenge. Without regular support many children on our caseloads would suffer long-lasting impacts.
The setting up of a teletherapy service was an obvious solution requiring creativity, collaborations and partnerships.
We formed a working group who collated existing research and resources, liaised with IT and IG, trialled online platforms and developed training for our team. Our therapeutic interventions rely on interaction so it was necessary to find innovative solutions such as online games and quizzes, interactive screen-sharing and the use of props. Challenges with digital access for more disadvantaged families had to be overcome but some groups saw increased attendance and improved feedback
The teletherapy service has meant that our support for families has continued throughout the pandemic and opportunities for rolling our service across traditional geographical boundaries is being explored.
What does your project aim to achieve?
This project aims to comprehensively evaluate changes made during COVID-19 using a Quality Improvement approach.
Anecdotally , teletherapy has shown benefits in ease of access, time efficiency and improved attendance for families but we would like to investigate data, processes and stakeholder feedback more extensively to determine exactly when/how/why/what is effective.
We hope that this will enable us to plan an effective telehealth offer more strategically in the future. National reports have shown that access to therapy services across the country is variable and often inadequate. Diverse funding streams are available to support therapy provision (charitable funding, education-focussed, grants, research) but not all NHS services are able to maximise these opportunities. Longer term, a robust and quality-assured teletherapy service within a sustainable business model, could be offered more widely, reducing inequalities of access and meeting an identified need for children and families.
How will the project be delivered?
At present, a small group of ‘telehealth’ champions have been supporting the digital developments across our team in a voluntary capacity. This project will strengthen and enhance their role, allowing them dedicated time to take a QI approach to trial and evauate teletherapy models, gain skills, make partnerships, and provide training to the whole therapy team.
The funding will allow us to backfill time for a senior manager to steer and coordinate this project, with a small group of therapists working in diffrerent service areas (early years, adolescents, special schools, hospital) to deliver and support. A cross-therapy steering group will be set up to monitor and drive the work over the year.
Existing links both within our own organisation (e.g. with IT, information governance and across other services) as well as externally (e.g. with Therapy Box, a therapy tech company and current research partner with us) will be made.
How is your project going to share learning?
COVID-19 instigated a rush towards adopting Telehealth as an occasional or default option for therapy and healthcare with children and families. Adopting changes in a crisis and at speed has led to enormous benefits – solutions found quickly and long-time barriers overcome.
However, this project aims to take a step back and use data and feedback to reflect on the effectiveness and true improvement value of these changes. This learning will be relevant across healthcare and can be applied to any setting where telehealth practices are being adopted.
We hope that a key outcome will be practical recommendations and toolkits for anyone currently or thinking of adopting telehealth in their service so that evaluation and outcomes measures can be incorporated from the outset, and so that the right children and families recieve the right sorts of telehealth options at the right time.
How you can contribute
- Regular communication with members working on similar projects
- Support connecting with relevant services who are using telehealth
- ideas and support to enagage users in feedback in creative ways
- Support to develop tools for co-production of telehealth services now and going forward
|6 Dec 2020||End of Phase 2 - data collection and feedback & steering group meeting|
|13 Dec 2020||Evaluation and reflection - adopt / adapt / abandon - plan phase 3|
|4 Jan 2021||Digital project delivery - phase 3 & steering group meeting|
|14 Feb 2021||mid phase 2 reflection and re-evaluation - consider project sustainability|
|14 Mar 2021||End of Phase 3 - data collection and feedback & steering group meeting|
|29 Mar 2021||End of project - begin roll out - sustain and spread|
|1 Apr 2021||Project Start: key stakeholders steering group launch|
|5 Apr 2021||Gathering of baseline data|
|18 Apr 2021||Digital project delivery - Phase 1|
|11 Jul 2021||End of Phase 1 - data collection and feedback & steering group meeting|
|18 Jul 2021||Evaluation and reflection - adopt / adapt / abandon - plan phase 2|
|1 Sep 2021||Digital project delivery - phase 2 & steering group meeting|
|17 Oct 2021||mid phase 2 reflection and re-evaluation - look at data and feedback|