Speech Pathology practices adapt to COVID-19

COVID-19 has posed many challenges for clinical educators as well as students.

At the outbreak of COVID-19 Royal Darwin Hospital (RDH) Speech Pathology department were supervising two Flinders University students who were both required to return to Adelaide with their placements on hold. But when Flinders University Master of Speech pathology student, Rochelle Hunt flew home to Darwin to stay with family, it opened up a great opportunity for her to commence her final placement at RDH. Rochelle’s supervisors were able to modify her placement to accommodate ongoing course work requirements which were being completed remotely.

Rochelle’s placement focus, dysphagia (swallowing difficulties), usually involves close contact with patients, however, practices were modified in order to provide COVID-safe assessments. The service model has also adapted to changes such as utilising Telehealth for outpatient dysphagia appointments (as opposed to face to face). ‘As always hand hygiene is of the utmost importance when moving around the hospital and working with patients, however the way we assess patients and the number of people who can work in shared office spaces has changed, as well as there being increased precautions and testing when working with patients that present with any potential COVID-19 symptoms’, explains Rochelle.

Rochelle is enjoying learning a new way of assessing and supporting patients due to the COVID-19, and her supervisors see her as an asset to the team and appreciate her ability to adapt to ever-changing circumstances.

Nursing and Allied Health students on placement in the Northern Territory are supported by Flinders NT Remote and Rural Interprofessional Placement Learning (RIPPL NT).

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