Speech and Language Therapist travels overseas to explore Early Intervention

Published: 6 Jun 2016

Speech and Language Therapist travels overseas to explore Early Intervention

Christine Hickey is a Speech and Language Therapist who works in Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland. In October 2015, she travelled to Ontario, Canada, to spend five weeks researching Early Intervention programmes in Simcoe County, which emphasise the critical importance of parental engagement and involvement. Christine, who is originally from Portstewart in Northern Ireland, was particularly interested in how the programmes promote health, wellbeing and early education.

While on her travels, Christine worked alongside various professionals and specialists in the field and was able to observe Simcoe County’s service delivery model, which supports children from birth until pre-school age. The model is heavily based on current research and evidence and, in particular, focuses on educating parents and families on how to support their child’s communication skills in their everyday, home environments.

One example of how this goal is achieved is through a solutions-focused ‘parent coaching’ approach that is currently being implemented as part of their intervention care pathway. Christine experienced how the parent coaching model can be used as a practical hands-on system to educate parents in early interaction and play, skills which when implemented appropriately empower them to have a significant impact on their child’s communication skills. This approach also allows therapy to be provided regularly within the family’s home, a method which has proven to be much more effective than a traditional therapy model.

"The Fellowship was a fantastic opportunity to travel overseas in order to learn from models of best practice and experience new ways of working. This is of key importance when developing professional skills and knowledge within the field of speech and language therapy, so the chance to use this learning to influence practice here in the UK is really exciting" –Christine Hickey

Since returning to the UK, Christine has shared her experiences and learning with the Paediatric Speech and Language Therapy team who work to support children and families throughout Dumfries and Galloway. She is now collaborating closely with her colleagues to use these learning experiences to further develop their service delivery model.

Read Christine’s report here.

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