September 22, 2020

 

Earlier this month, OPEN hosted this forum where speakers from different organisations shared insights on emerging evidence and lessons to understand remote service delivery. They discussed what is working, continuing challenges, and what is needed going forward.

This forum was a follow-up to the OPEN forum in June on telehealth where the presenters talked about the innovative strategies taken by agencies to adapt to the changing environment.

Joining us to share their learnings were:

  • Eleanor Williams, Director of the Centre for Evaluation and Research Evidence at the Department of Health and Human Services
  • Michele Lonsdale, Deputy CEO, and Director Policy, Research and Advocacy at the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare.
  • Andi Jones, Infant Response Manager at Tweddle
  • Eliza Todd, Practice Leader Rapid Response at Anglicare

While  DHHS and the Centre presented a sector-wide perspective, the two sector organisations – Tweddle and Anglicare – shared their strategies on rapid program development, integrated data collection and challenges.

Key learnings and materials from each of the four presentations has been summarised below. You can also view a recording of the full forum here:

1. DHHS rapid evaluations of evidence-based programs and the common elements approach.

Presented by Eleanor Williams, Director of the Centre for Evaluation and Research Evidence at the Department of Health and Human Services.

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Key learnings:

  • Evidence suggests remote delivery could be retained in the longer term as an adjunct rather than a replacement.
  • Innovative mixed models involving both physically distanced face-to-face interactions and remote delivery elements could be feasible.
  • Ongoing access/capacity to deliver services remotely could be helpful in making up for missed face-to-face appointments, some between appointment check-ins, or reaching out to clients who are at risk of disengaging or face practical barriers to participation.
  • There would be value in establishing some trials to build evidence base on remote delivery.

2. Impacts of COVID 19 on children and family services

Presented by Michele Lonsdale, the Deputy CEO, and Director Policy, Research and Advocacy at the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare.

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Key learnings:

  • Findings from the follow-up survey will measure the impact of the second wave on clients, practitioners and agencies
  • Children and families have experienced greater vulnerability during this period. Including decline in mental health, increase in violence putting children at further risk, reduced developmental opportunities for children, isolation and anxiety from increased susceptibility to conspiracy theories.
  • Practitioners have been creative in using remote engagement strategies to increase contact with at-risk clients. They have increased the flexibility of processes to enhance safety planning and manage a rise in staff burnout.
  • Agencies have seen a rise in flexible work-from-home arrangements, a growing emphasis on staff wellbeing and PD, and regular meetings and information sharing internally.
  • There are likely to be sustainable changes from this period – mixed service delivery model (virtual and face-to-face), flexible work arrangements, more information sharing, continued organisational awareness of staff wellbeing, and virtual PD opportunities for staff.

3. Converting residential Parenting Assessment and Community based Parenting Education services to a telehealth service model during the COVID 19 Pandemic

Presented by Andi Jones, Infant Response Manager at Tweddle

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Key learnings:

  • Tweddle have worked to combine the philosophy of two parenting programs (one was a residential and other a home-visit) in one telehealth model – delivered of 6 weeks, 1-2 hours per day
  • An evaluation process has been set up – evaluating the services at the first point of contact with families up until and including follow up satisfaction surveys
  • Tweddle are working to be immediately responsive to changes that need to be made
  • Consults and supervision staff working more independently than ever before
  • There are continued challenges of telehealth model, but increase in IT infrastructure, knowledge and creative engagement strategies are supporting the change.
  • The next steps will be data cleaning and analysis

4. Shifting Anglicare’s Rapid Response Trial in a COVID environment

Presented by Eliza Todd, Practice Leader Rapid Response at Anglicare

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Key learnings:

  • Rapid Response program provides  intensive support to parents at risk of the removal of their children
  • The Rapid Response model  has been adapted to a telehealth service
  • Some home-visits were done, however fears associated with personnel wearing PPE needed to be managed
  • Anglicare are comprehensively evaluating the program and will be releasing interim findings

If you want to know more about the pros and cons of telehealth, check out the following resources:

Quick Review Series – Telehealth

Literature Review – Telehealth and Telepractice