What is Telepractice?

What is Telepractice?
Posted on Fri 8 May 2020

Amy, Speech Pathologist at our Dubbo centre speaks with client Harry via Telepractice

What is Telepractice?

Telepractice is a way for people living with cerebral palsy and other disabilities to access therapy online.

It means families can remain in the comfort and safety of their own homes, without missing out on regular therapy.

Many parents have been worried about whether their child will miss out, while face to face therapy isn’t available during COVID-19. Telepractice ensures children can continue seeing their regular therapist, while safely maintaining social distancing.

When did CPA start using Telepractice?

We began a pilot of Telepractice in June 2019, in order to better support people living in rural and remote areas. After the success of the pilot program, CPA Telepractice was officially launched in October 2019.

What types of therapy are being done through Telepractice?

Telepractice provides the opportunity for physiotherapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy to continue via video link.

As many of the children and adults we see will remain vulnerable to COVID-19 until a vaccine is available, we’re working hard to expand Telepractice to other vital programs.

Who uses Telepractice?

When the program was first piloted in 2019, the main goal was to provide access to therapy for people living in rural and remote areas; families who would traditionally need to travel vast distances to attend therapy.

Harry is one of many children who already benefits from CPA Telepractice.

Harry with his mum Kim

Harry lives near Coonamble, in Outback NSW. He has severe cerebral palsy, affecting both his arms and legs. Harry’s Speech Pathologist, Amy works from Dubbo – a 2 ½ hour drive away. Seeing Amy in person requires a 6 hour round trip.

Thanks to Telepractice and a little help from mum Kim, Harry is able to access therapy with Amy from home.

For a therapist like Amy, Telepractice allows her to keep a close eye on Harry’s progress and make sure he is getting the support he needs.

“The best part of my role is having the opportunity to support kids like Harry meet their goals. Building a rapport and trust with families is incredibly rewarding and knowing I have played a small part in their success is hugely fulfilling.” Amy, Speech Pathologist

Times have changed

On Friday 27th March due to COVID-19, we made the very difficult decision to suspend all face to face therapy sessions.

With respiratory illness the leading cause of death for people with cerebral palsy, the immediate risk to the people we help was simply too great to continue.

Now, children and adults across our therapy network have been accessing the Telepractice service.

Having the technology already in place has meant we’ve been able to scale up. We’re training more staff and families every week in how to use this exciting resource.

In the week before our site closures, our therapists delivered 332 hours of Telepractice. A few weeks later, this had almost quadrupled to over 1,300 hours. And demand continues to grow.

Access still isn’t reaching everyone

While no parent wants their child to miss out at this difficult time, many of the families we support are already stretched to their financial limit. For some, access to a tablet or even to the internet is simply out of reach.

It’s why we’re raising funds to help at least 400 families who’ve been identified as being in urgent need of a Telepractice Support Kit.

To make access a reality, we’ve launched an Emergency Appeal to raise funds so families can access therapy now, and into the future.

Each kit is tailored to the needs of the individual adult or child, but may include a tablet with hard case, training with a therapist to use the technology and even specific equipment needed like sensory toys. The cost of a kit is $2,500.

Can you help a family in need?

If you would like to help provide Telepractice Support Kits to 400 families in need, simply click below to donate. 

Any gift, great or small, can make a huge difference to a child or adult living with cerebral palsy.

You are invited to participate in an online survey about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on your child with a neurodevelopmental disability or rare genetic disorder.