Hi, my name is Sophie and I’m the Telecare Coordinator Team Leader at Royal Far West.
The Telecare program delivers Speech, Occupational Therapy and Psychology Therapy sessions via video-link for children in rural and remote Australia.
Our Telecare Coordination team is responsible for managing the weekly appointments for almost 850 kids into preschools, primary schools, homes and the occasional paddock! We help schools and parents refer kids for the Telecare program and then act as their link between schools/parents and our clinicians in Manly. This involves engaging with new communities, technology testing, creating school schedules, providing support for both school & clinician and problem solving. I directly manage the Telecare sessions for 100 kids in 15 schools, in NSW & WA communities such as Narromine, Murrumburrah, Batlow and Fitzroy Crossing.
As the Team Leader, my role is to oversee the coordination of the Telecare program by supporting my team and working closely with our Clinical and Program teams and Partnership team. I’m also helping to develop new processes and systems to support the Telecare program as it grows, particularly Connect – our new client administration system. It’s all about supporting improving the quality and efficiency to benefit our country kids.
How long have you been here? Have you seen any changes in the sorts of issues children have during this time?
I’ve been at RFW for almost three years and I’ve seen our Telecare program absolutely transform and more than double! The need for paediatric allied health support in rural and remote Australia is certainly growing and we’ve seen access to local services affected over the past year by both the 2019/20 bushfires and COVID-19.
During the last year there was a 24% growth in Telecare, with most of this growth coming from existing schools that are very happy with the outcomes of their students and have expanded their contracts with us. It’s really highlighted how important Telehealth services are, especially for country kids.
What led you to work at RFW?
I’ve always been passionate about improving equity in access to health care and the Telecare program does just that – it connects country kids to much needed allied health services they may not have been able to access locally.
Describe your typical day
Coffee is an essential start to my day and after that, the day is filled with the unexpected! I like to think that I flick between my different ‘brains’ throughout the day. I’ll often move from rescheduling appts for my Telecare kiddies, to testing new systems, to planning clinical resources needed for the program. There’s never a dull moment in Telecareland!
What’s the best thing about working with families from rural and remote Australia?
The resilience and kindness of our families in rural and remote Australia is nothing short of incredible. I love chatting and getting to know each family – they’ll always put a smile on my face.
I also work a lot with principals, class teachers and learning support teachers in primary schools. I am constantly in awe of their dedication to improve their students’ developmental outcomes. We have some teachers solely supporting 20+ Telecare sessions per week, while others drive kids to school and help build sensory rooms or playgrounds for their pupils.
What do you think makes RFW unique?
The collaboration of our RFW teams and multidisciplinary approach to supporting kids in rural and remote Australia is unique. We have large Clinical teams and Program teams working together to ensure we seamlessly deliver therapy and assessment with the goal to improve children’s developmental outcomes.
Tell us about a family’s positive outcomes through working with RFW
We had a little boy who accessed Telecare Speech Therapy through a Scholarship, with speech sound and literacy difficulties. Through the Telecare program and our advocacy to keep accessing therapy, his speech and confidence improved so much that he was able to stand on a stage at the local show and proudly speak in front of the crowd about how he loves being a cowboy. His mum was able to use the skills learnt in therapy to support and build his confidence for this event. Her pure joy and pride for how far her son had come were completely heart-warming.
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