Speech and Hearing Professionals Welcome Changes to BC Model of Care, Concerns Remain About Implementation
Vancouver, British Columbia--(Newsfile Corp. - October 27, 2021) - Speech and Hearing BC, a not-for-profit association representing more than 1200 speech-language pathologists and audiologists in British Columbia, welcomes many of the changes in today's BC Ministry of Child and Family Development announcement; however, there are concerns regarding how the changes will impact vulnerable patients across the province. Speech and Hearing BC's President Becca Yu had the following thoughts to share about today's announcement:
"We welcome the change to a needs-based model will allow families to access services without a formal diagnosis such as autism. This will allow children showing signs and symptoms of developmental delay or disorder to access services, and diagnoses such as apraxia, development language disorder, cerebral palsy and Down syndrome to access supports that they did not have before. Our concern, however, is the current shortage of professionals such as speech-language pathologists to fill these positions to provide quality therapeutic services."
While some of today's government announcement is encouraging, waitlists, caseload size, autonomy of therapist selection, and accessibility (particularly in rural areas), remain concerns for both health care professionals, families and patients alike. Speech and Hearing BC has been advocating for an increase in full time speech-language specialists in the province to address the chronic waitlists, but this is not clearly addressed with the model proposed in this announcement. Speech and Hearing BCs Private Practice Director, Amanda Locke, had this to say about the proposed changes:
"For years private practice clinicians have been faced with the challenge of treating children who do not receive funding support either because of which diagnosis they have, or because they have yet to receive a diagnosis. It is exciting that this new model will address these gaps in service provision so that children of all diagnostic backgrounds will receive the support they need. But, the inclusion of more patients adds to the already existing concern of longer wait times and more need than there are clinicians to service; my hope is that within the new model, more full-time positions will be created in the province to fulfill this need, rather than worsen the existing problem of wait times and clinician availability for clients."
There is already a shortage of skilled health care support workers for youth with support needs and concerns with retention and recruitment strategies to fill the large number of required positions within this model remain unanswered. While this is a step towards mitigating BC's substantial waitlists for care, there is a worry that as the government implements this program, children and other patients could be left behind during crucial developmental periods. Speech and Hearing BC is looking forward to a robust consultation from the Ministry of Child and Family Development with patients, families and speech-language professionals to ensure the new model helps to connect more patients with quality care.
Speech and Hearing BC is a not-for-profit association with more than 1200-member speech-language pathologists and audiologists in British Columbia. We believe in the importance of providing treatment to individuals of all ages who may experience problems with their speech, language, hearing, voice, swallowing, fluency, and social communication.
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