Royal Far West leads the way in helping country kids communicate with confidence

Speech Pathology Week, 23 – 29 August 2020, seeks to promote the profession and the work done by Speech Pathologists for the 1.2 million Australians who have a communication disability. This year’s theme is ‘Communicating with Confidence!’

Speech Pathologists provide assessment and therapy for a wide range of communication and feeding / swallowing disorders to enable them to reach their full communication potential.

Communication has a major impact on quality of life, affecting a person’s lifetime satisfaction, happiness and health, both as an individual and as a member of a wider community.

Employing 26 Paediatric Speech Pathologists, children’s charity Royal Far West has one of the largest Paediatric Speech Pathology teams in Australia.

These clinicians support children in rural and remote areas of Australia who are struggling with their communication skills and cannot access local services because of where they live. Last year 1,097 children accessed Royal Far West’s Speech Therapy services.

Royal Far West’s Clinical Manager Speech Pathology Jessica McGrath says, “The Speech Pathology services at Royal Far West are individualised to meet each child’s needs, they are trauma informed, and the therapists consider the whole of the child and their family when planning sessions.

“They are delivered as part of a multidisciplinary offering to children who may also have other developmental challenges.”

Royal Far West’s Speech Pathology services are accessed either by telehealth services delivered into schools or homes, or through the charity’s Manly-based Paediatric Developmental Program or Windmill Program, with screening also offered in rural and remote communities through the Healthy Kids Bus Stop program.

Royal Far West has been successfully conducting Speech Pathology via telehealth since 2014, and as a result has been able to maintain and even grow services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jessica McGrath says, “Children, parents and schools appreciate and enjoy our Speech Pathology telehealth services as they are easily accessible, engaging, fun and effective at achieving outcomes.  We work together to help the child communicate with confidence, within their everyday environment.”

Last year, 660 children accessed Speech Pathology via video technology through Royal Far West’s Telecare for Kids program. The sessions typically run for 30-60 minutes, with parents, teachers and aides being upskilled during the sessions to enable them to assist during follow-up activities.

Comments from parents whose children accessed Speech Pathology from Royal Far West include:

“Therapy sessions were life-changing for her and I can’t thank you enough.

“The Speech Pathologist was so amazing at helping him understand things and explaining them that she even made me see things in a different way and understand them better.”

Parents may need to see a Speech Pathologist if they are concerned about their child’s speech development (e.g. pronunciation of words), language development, literacy, stuttering, feeding, voice quality or social difficulties. Care options can be discussed with local Doctors.

For more information about Royal Far West visit www.royalfarwest.org.au