June 1, 2022

Training allied health professionals

Representatives from our allied health team took part in a Complex Case Series webinar last week, aimed at providing free education and training to allied health professionals across Victoria.

The Allied Health Clinical Educator’s Network (AHCEN) has developed a format of complex case webinars that allow experienced allied health professionals to problem solve and talk about their reasoning behind clinical decisions.

Last week’s webinar was on early allied health intervention to optimise neurodevelopment in high-risk infants. Expert professionals from different health services, including Northern Health, spoke at the webinar.

Justine Slattery, Northern Health Allied Health Education Lead, facilitated the webinar, while Christina Lambros, Physiotherapist, represented Northern Health on the panel.

Justine said the webinars made education and training more accessible to people who work in different settings across the state, and targeted early career allied health professionals.

“It can be hard to teach clinical reasoning and decision making. It is a skill that clinicians acquire once they get into practice, as it’s a more abstract skill,” she said.

“It’s sometimes hard for experienced clinicians to explain why they are making certain diagnostic decisions, or why they’re selecting treatment because it has become so second nature, but case-based discussions make this thinking more transparent.”

Last week’s webinar followed the case of a baby who was born very preterm and was diagnosed at his 28-week-old ultrasound with left cerebral ventriculomegaly. He had a complex neonatal history and presented with a variety of early medical and developmental concerns impacting his breathing, feeding and motor function.

“The webinar focused on how different allied health members would facilitate his management and work with him while he was in hospital and after he was discharged home. We followed his journey through the healthcare continuum – it started when he was born in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, he retuned back to a regional Neonatal Unit and was then discharged. He continued to get allied health involvement through a combination of hospital-based patient clinics and through NDIS patient services as well,” Justine said.

“The case-based discussion highlighted this infant’s care pathway and the changing clinical priorities for the family and the multidisciplinary Allied Health team.”

The webinar was also an opportunity for Christina to showcase the work of the Northern Health Allied Health team, and make their work more widely known.

“This was an opportunity to show the important early assessment and intervention that allied health can provide to infants who are at high risk of adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes – and that is something we do here at Northern Health,” Christina said.

“Allied Health is quite heavily involved in the management of babies that are preterm or very low birth rate, both as inpatients on the Neonatal Unit, and in the outpatient setting following discharge.”

“These babies are at higher risk of developmental difficulties, and current evidence indicates that up to 50 per cent of these children will have developmental difficulties by age five in areas such as motor, communication, sensory, behavioural or cognitive development. At Northern Health, we provide monitoring and screening of their development, to ensure early identification, and thus, early access to intervention.”

The webinar was also an opportunity for Christina to learn from other allied health professionals, and to teach clinicians who may not have had experience managing or treating children with a complex presentation.

“Participating in this webinar as a presenter provided me with the opportunity to reflect on the knowledge I have and to review the current literature and evidence within this area. It confirmed that the care we are providing at Northern Health is the gold standard of care,” Christina said.

Featured image: Justine Slattery, Allied Health Education Lead and Christina Lambros, Physiotherapist.