International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders
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Background: There has been a significant uptake in the use of telepractice during the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic. This study explored the experiences of speech and language therapists, assistants and parents with telepractice during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Aims: The aims of the study were to (a) identify factors that influenced success of telepractice, and (b) describe clinicians’ and parents’ preferences for the future mode of service delivery for preschoolers with communication disorders.
Methods & Procedures: The study was conducted in partnership with one publicly funded program in Ontario, Canada that offered services to preschoolers with speech, language, and communication needs at no cost. Speech and language therapists (N = 13), assistants (N = 3) and parents (N = 13) shared their experiences and perspectives during semi-structured videoconference interviews.
Outcomes & Results: Factors that influenced the success of telepractice were reported in three categories: the setting (i.e., where and how telepractice was being delivered); the nature of telepractice (i.e., the services that were provided via telepractice); and the individuals (i.e., who was involved in telepractice). These factors were reported to interact with each other. As needs for each child and family are unique, parents and clinicians reported a preference for a hybrid and flexible service delivery model in the future.
Conclusions & Implications: The themes identified in this study can be used by clinicians and managers to consider factors that influence the success of telepractice for children and families
What this paper adds: What is already known on the subject? Studies conducted before the COVID-19 pandemic showed that telepractice was an effective and acceptable service approach. However, some clinicians and parents reported wanting to resume in-person visits. The provision of telepractice services to families with children with communication disorders increased significantly during COVID-19. What this paper adds to existing knowledge? Parents and clinicians shared factors that influenced the success of telepractice during semi-structured interviews. Factors were identified in three categories: the setting (i.e., where and how telepractice was being delivered); the nature of telepractice (i.e., the services that were provided via telepractice); and the individuals (i.e., who were involved in telepractice). As each child's and family's needs are unique, parents and clinicians reported a preference for a hybrid and flexible service delivery model in the future. What are the potential or actual clinical implications of this work? SLTs and SLT managers can use the factors identified to discuss with parents and decide whether telepractice may be well suited to the needs of each child and family.