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Why we do what we do?

Our Approach

In September 2022, Carla and Jamima were working out of two separate clinic rooms in Spotswood. They were feeling completely overwhelmed by the huge number of referrals and enquiries coming their way, and helpless when they had to tell families that their waitlists were closed, and they weren’t able to provide support at this time. Families would call, after having called upwards of 10 other speech pathologists in the area and waited 2 years or more – absolutely desperate for someone to help. They thought ‘there has to be a better way’ – they needed more hours in the day and more days in the week – or another version of themselves! There had to be a way that children could receive access high quality, evidence-based services sooner rather than later.  Thus, The Happy Space was born, with its innovative service delivery model which enables more children to access more support, from people who really care.

Group Therapy

In the disability space, often clients require support across the lifetime, so it is not as if there are appointment slots coming up often. Carla and Jamima were also noticing that they were often completing the same session a couple of times a day with children with very similar needs  – where these children would actually benefit from working together to reach their goals, utilising the zones of proximal development where children learn from therapists but also from their peers. Thus – our group programs exploded! We now offer over 20 group programs at The Happy Space, where we are able to offer immediate access to high quality, evidence-based therapy – a near myth in this day and age!

 

Allied Health Assistants

Carla and Jamima also reflected on their use of Allied Health Assistants (AHAs), and how these skilled speech pathology students could support the facilitation of more therapies to children on the waitlist so that they are able to access high quality, evidence-based services sooner rather than later. Our allied health assistants carry out systematic and prescriptive therapies which are evidence-based. They receive a high level of support, including twice weekly supervision sessions and monthly professional development. To read more about the use of speech pathology students as AHAs, click here.

The Happy Space follows a Multi-Tiered System of Support model, whereby clients are classified into tiers based on the level of support they require. The tiers are as follows:

Individual sessions with an allied health assistant are for children who require support with their speech sounds and articulation. This requires individualised support, following a systematic intervention program and overseen by a speech pathologist.

Group therapy from a speech pathologist is for the more dynamic areas of support, including social communication, early language and play. The planning and facilitation of these larger groups is carried out by a speech pathologist, and speech pathologists also offer one-off sessions to these children for standardised language assessments and termly school consultation.

These are the most complex children who require the highest level of support. This includes children who have multiple or rare disabilities, who are non-speaking and require support with Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) or who require support with safe swallowing, feeding and mealtimes.

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Our AHAs run small group therapy sessions of two to four children using systematic, prescriptive and evidence-based programs, including the PAL program for literacy and the Story Champs program for oral language and listening. The planning and facilitation of these small groups is overseen by a speech pathologist, and speech pathologists are also able to offer 1 off sessions to these children for standardised language assessments and termly school consultation.

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