May 9, 2023
Parents and caregivers can now count on additional support for their child development and health questions, thanks to new interactive resources offered by the Pediatric Rehabilitation Targeted and Universal Services team. Photo supplied.
Story by Nathan Downey
As one of Canada’s foremost healthcare organizations, Alberta Health Services (AHS) strives to lead the nation in research, knowledge and innovative care delivery.
A new program within Allied Health Professional Practice and Education is harnessing this in-house expertise to increase support for parents and caregivers in every corner of the province — and for the allied health professionals who serve them.
Since September, the Pediatric Rehabilitation Targeted and Universal Services team has been offering free, interactive webinars that cover a variety of topics for children and youth, such as developmental milestones, talking and listening, toileting and healthy sleep habits.
“We know that parents, caregivers and people who work with children have questions about child development and health conditions,” says program manager Mark Moland. “We’re in a position to take the best information we have across Alberta and make that available to everyone.”
Moland says the vision for the program is to provide timely and trusted information for parents and caregivers, and to give community partners and other healthcare professionals the ability to connect their clients with information that would normally involve a care provider from a different discipline.
“If, for example, a family seeing a speech-language pathologist (S-LP) mentions that their child is having trouble sleeping, those issues aren’t typically addressed by a S-LP, but they can now provide the family with these resources immediately, before seeking further care from a different allied health discipline,” adds Moland.
Feedback gathered from webinar participants has been overwhelmingly positive: 93 per cent say their knowledge improved; 96 per cent say they plan to use what they learned; and 94 per cent say they’ll recommend the webinar to others.
The feedback from allied health professionals has been similarly glowing.
“I was so happy when the universal and targeted webinars came out,” says Leena Varkey Sequeira, PhD, a psychologist with the North Zone Complex Pediatric Rehabilitation Support Team in Peace River. “I was impressed by the quality of the webinars. They provide good-quality, up-to-date information in a very clear and down-to-earth way.”
Sequeira encourages local allied health teams to refer their clients to these webinars, to empower them to address their clients’ concerns, which may lie beyond the scope of their professional practice.
This program offers significant support to families living in rural and northern parts of Alberta, where transportation and distance can be barriers to receiving services.
The Pediatric Rehabilitation team is developing additional webinars and evaluating different formats, including on-demand videos, handouts and newsletters, says Moland. They recently translated one of their resources into 10 different languages to make the information accessible to a wider segment of the population.
They’re also establishing partnerships with community groups to break down barriers for families who may not have reliable access to technology.
“As allied health professionals, we know families and caregivers want to access trusted information in a variety of ways. These new targeted and universal services and resources complement individualized services,” says Moland. “This program gives us the opportunity to provide high-quality information to families when they need it.”
For more information about the Pediatric Rehabilitation Universal and Targeted Services program, visit their MyHealth Alberta page, or email ChildrenYouthHealth@ahs.ca. You can also visit their Together4Health page to stay up-to-date on what’s new.