BUSHkids Annual Report 2019-20

ANNUAL REPORT 2019–2020 TOPIC SECTION 27 OVERVIEW BUSHKIDS TELEHEALTH The core principles of teleHealth used when working with clients are also applicable to working relationships. BUSHkids’ workforce is dispersed all over Queensland with a variety of staff qualifications and experience across all teams, so being able to access colleagues not just from the local Service Centre – through teleHealth – not only builds staff capacity but also provides our clients with more holistic support. BUSHkids conducted a survey in early 2020 to gauge the thoughts and experiences of staff around teleHealth. Many respondents were positive and interested in taking up teleHealth but were also slightly nervous to make the transition –to be expected when accustomed to face-to-face work. With this initial feedback, a project was undertaken to integrate the internally- developed teleHealth training program to an online, eLearning format. Not long after this survey was undertaken, COVID-19, and the need for remotely working, then WFH, quickly overcame any lingering apprehensions. Across all BUSHkids service streams, staff were required to adapt their usual way of working to accommodate new COVID-19 restrictions. All staff received teleHealth training in its usual format and support from supervisors and experienced teleHealth providers. As part of our research project with The University of Queensland to develop a teleHealth Framework for BUSHkids we had developed training modules for our own staff. All staff were provided with teleHealth training before services were moved online. Fortunately, BUSHkids was very well-positioned for 2020’s surprises given our several years’ experience in providing services via teleHealth. It meant that all staff had some level of exposure to the medium: it wasn’t all completely new. The challenge was implementing this at scale and at pace across the whole organisation. BUSHkids met the challenge imposed by the pandemic and went all-digital over a few very fast-paced weeks! Staff were challenged to adapt their ‘normal’ F2F services to the virtual world – including many of the normally group-based programs, such as Read and Grow, Fun Friends © , Triple P Positive Parenting Program, 1-2-3 Magic ® & Emotion Coaching, Circle of Security, PALS Social Skills Program and Playgroups. None of this could be a ‘one-way street’ however, and BUSHkids’ efforts were embraced by the children, parents and carers, schools, childcare centres and communities in helping each other through the dislocations. To support the transition to all-online services, BUSHkids teleHealth ‘kits’ – made possible by the RNA’s generous 2019 fundraising donation – with all the equipment clients needed to take part in teleHealth, were available on loan to clients. Expanding the number of kits available proved difficult during the early months of the pandemic with a scarcity of equipment (such as iPads) to purchase. Ultimately, we were able to source other necessary equipment to support our teams’ WFH transition, with an investment of over $60,000 in new mobile phones, portable webcams and document cameras, headsets and laptops. Several months passed where most staff were working from home providing support via teleHealth. After the dust had (slightly) settled, BUSHkids again sought feedback from staff. Based on the second survey, we now have a clearer direction for teleHealth – where it works really well for both staff and clients, and areas where F2F service remains ideal. BUSHkids is committed to building a teleHealth-skilled workforce, using both locally acquired and research- endorsed knowledge to support children and families of the Bush. teleHealth BUSHkids’ teleHealth services have been on a steep upward trajectory after their introduction in 2016, with staggering increases in the number of clients supported and sessions delivered, compared with past years! This year’s focus has been to upskill and empower BUSHkids staff in teleHealth service delivery to ensure a flexible, collaborative and innovative approach to providing support when increasingly working remotely with children and families.

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