Workshop: Therapy assistants: an integral part of the rural disability sector workforce

A selection of pre-conference workshops will be held through the 2021 NAHC Online Platform on Monday 9th August. 

Workshops are an additional expense and are open to both conference delegates and non-conference delegates.

Places are limited and bookings will be taken on a first come – first served basis.

Therapy assistants: an integral part of the rural disability sector workforce

Workshop Presenters: Dr Kim Bulkeley, Dr genevieve Johnsson, Marlene Eksteen, Caryn Ferguson

Date: Monday 9 August

Time:1230 – 1430

The rural disability workforce has been a topic of speculation and conversation since the inception of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. The current focus on market based service delivery models, grounded in individual funding , raises concerns about the consequences for “thin market” areas such as rural and remote locations. Therapeutic supports are part of the suite of supports required by people with disability in rural and remote areas that have historically been difficult to access and are potentially more vulnerable to market failure. In addition, the NDIS reimbursement model with set item pricing, does not account for additional service delivery costs due to geography. A locally based therapy assistant is one service design option to address access to therapeutic supports in rural areas that is of increasing interest in the disability sector. This workshop will explore the evolving design of therapy assistant models as part of rural service delivery for people with disability living rurally. The experience of ASPECT in developing and implementing therapy assistant services in four rural and remote locations will provide specific examples and insights in this evolving area.

The outcomes for participants include:

  • Understanding the context of therapy assistant models in the disability sector
  • Identifying factors to consider in developing a governance framework including therapy assistants
  • Developing skills in establishing systems to support effective implementation of a therapy assistant model
  • Increased knowledge on the use of telepractice as part of therapy assistant service delivery
  • Insights into the business modelling to support therapy assistant services

Dr Kim Bulkeley

Kim is a senior lecturer at the Sydney School of Health Sciences and the Centre for Disability Research and Policy at the University of Sydney. With over 25 years experience in the community disability sector in front line, management, policy and research roles, Kim is passionate about her current research work to increase access to quality allied health services. She is a respected leader in rural and remote disability research with a focus on the engagement of communities in the development of innovative service designs to increase access for people with disability and their families.

Dr Genevieve Johnsson

Genevieve is a psychologist and the Practice Leader for Innovation at Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) and has most recently led the research and delivery of Aspect’s telepractice programs. Genevieve completed her PhD at the University of Sydney investigating models of technology-based training and support for rural and remote professionals. Genevieve is passionate about bringing services to underserved areas, and has been continuing her research with the University of Sydney, Centre for Disability Research and Policy focussed on the delivery of Positive Behaviour Support via telepractice, as well as the implementation of Allied Health Assistant models in rural and remote Australia.

Marlene Eksteen

Marlene Eksteen is a Speech Pathologist of 30 years. She has worked in private practice, community health, early intervention and education in regional, rural and remote locations. Since 2014 Marlene has worked with Aspect Therapy. After providing outreach to participants in Norfolk Island and Deniliquin utilising a local allied health assistant model of practice, she is currently the Practice Leader for Allied Health Assistants, working through the Allied Health Assistant workforce development project to deliver professional, culturally competent therapy services to participants in their local communities in thin market areas. Marlene is passionate about developing the Allied Health Assistance role to its full potential within the disability sector.

Caryn Ferguson

Caryn Ferguson is an Allied Health Assistant with Aspect Therapy. She has worked in the Community Services sector across Drug/Alcohol and Mental Health in Regional and Remote Indigenous Communities; and in the Disability sector. She has qualifications in Political Science and Community Services and is currently completing her Certificate IV in Allied Health Assistance. Professionally she struggled to find her niche until commencing in her role as an Allied Health Assistant with Aspect Therapy twelve months ago. Her experience as a mother has driven her passion for the disability sector and in particular the need for Allied Health Services for families in regional and remote locations.

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