Telehealth helps students work with remote communities

In a demonstration of the future of the Australian health workforce, a dozen allied health students from across Australia have seized upon an opportunity presented during the COVID-19 pandemic to work with rural and remote communities.

Through the Marjalin Kimberley Centre for Remote Health, which facilitates allied health and nursing clinical placements for students from Australian universities, the students were able to use the Healthdirect telehealth system to interact with childhood educators in the Kimberley.

A young woman holds a phone up to small children.
Allied health students are working with early childhood educators to deliver services.

Using Healthdirect the students, from Notre Dame University, University of Newcastle, University of Sydney and Monash University, have been able to provide a physiotherapy service to two early childhood centres in Broome.

Marjarlin Kimberley Centre for Remote Health Clinical Educator of Occupational Therapy, Eliza Huppatz said Healthdirect had been a useful platform for the students to share information with early childhood educators and learn more about working with remote communities.

“Students are able to interview educators and gather rich subjective information about children and their developmental needs, and in a reciprocal relationship, provide additional ideas to early childhood educators that they can use to support children’s development in key areas,” she said.

WA Primary Health Alliance Portfolio Manager for Primary Care Innovation Dianne Bianchini said the project was a great initiative dealing with both clinical and workforce innovation.

“One of the unanticipated benefits of COVID-19 and telehealth was the ability of allied health students from across Australia to remain connected with rural and remote communities which provide invaluable learning and teaching opportunities alike,” she said.

The roll out of the Healthdirect video system has been facilitated in this state by WA Primary Health Alliance, as part of a national program to support primary care during COVID-19.