Know Me Early: Helping clinicians to understand child development and identify developmental concerns

Sarah Rogers1, Dr Ruth Nicholls1, Dr Sue Greaves1, Bernadette O’Connor

1Royal Children’s Hospital, Parkville, Melbourne, Australia

The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) is a major tertiary hospital, providing paediatric care across Victoria, interstate and overseas. In a 2016 survey of 240 Allied Health clinicians (n=75 responses,  31% response rate), 37% of respondents rated themselves five or below, on a ten point scale when asked to identify their confidence in completing a developmental screen or assessment. Almost all (98%) clinicians wanted further education around developmental screening and assessment.

To address this gap, Allied Health staff across ten professions collaboratively developed a set of Child Development Competency Standards and an accompanying learning package utilising the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services Allied Health Competency Framework. The Standards addressed several areas including children in their environment, identification and follow up of concerns and the impact of hospitalisation.  The learning package was made available to staff via the RCH Learning Management System and comprised a pre-program self-assessment, six self-directed online modules and two face:face group sessions (tutorial and workshop). The program was piloted across 60 Allied Heath clinicians, who completed an initial learning needs analysis based upon the Standards, then completed the relevant components of the learning package aligned to their learning needs.  Upon conclusion of the pilot, 56% of participants completed a post-program survey.  All respondents felt they had adequate developmental knowledge to complete their job to the best possible standard, compared with 53% prior to the program. Similarly, 94% of participants agreed or strongly agreed with the statement ‘I am confident raising developmental concerns with families’ after completing the program, compared with 62% of clinicians before the program.

Following the success of this pilot, all Allied Health clinicians are required to meet the Child Development Competency Standards. The learning package is now also being offered to Medical and Nursing staff across RCH to improve quality of care.


Bernadette O’Connor is the Director of Allied Health at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne. Originally training as a Speech Pathologist, Bernadette has over 35 years’ experience in the health sector in public, private, acute, sub-acute and community settings. She has a keen interest in ensuring a positive patient experience and in promotion of child public health.

NAHC Conferences

2007, Hobart (7th NAHC)

2009, Canberra (8th NAHC)

2012, Canberra (9th NAHC)

2013, Brisbane (10th NAHC)

2015, Melbourne (11th NAHC)

2017, Sydney (12th NAHC)

2019, Brisbane (13th NAHC)

Conference Managers

Please contact the team at Conference Design with any questions regarding the conference.

Photo Credits: Tourism & Events Queensland

© 2017 Conference Design Pty Ltd