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Speech Pathology via telehealth speaks to the needs of Baysiders

7 June 2024

PA Hospital Speech Pathologist, Renee Cook has harnessed the power of telehealth to deliver a much-needed Speech Pathology Service for cancer patients in the far reaches of Redlands Coast.

Renee’s work has allowed the established PA Hospital speech pathology cancer service to benefit cancer patients in Redland, by supporting the new Redlands Satellite Hospital to provide care closer to home. 

“The reality is that patients don’t need to come into clinic for the services that we provide. We can safely and effectively provide services to patients via telehealth,” Renee said.

“We've pulled on our existing telehealth resources and skills to ensure that patients receiving cancer treatment at the Redlands Satellite Hospital can access cancer specific speech pathology services from the comfort of home. Cancer treatment is fatiguing so a telehealth appointment from home removes the need for patients to travel to appointments.”

Patients receiving cancer treatment at PAH can also benefit from speech pathology telehealth appointments at home, rather than make another journey into the hospital or add another appointment to their long day of treatments.

“We find that patients or their families are the ones to ask us for telehealth options as an alternative to coming into the hospital.  Telehealth has emerged as a helpful and efficient tool for providing care to outpatients, particularly as patients and their families are now more confident with online options,” she said.

There is a growing need for speech pathology as a part of the changing landscape of cancer care, where more patients are receiving chemotherapy, immunotherapy and other targeted therapies.

Renee said that while the primary problems managed by speech pathologists for cancer patients are still swallowing and communication difficulties, it is the unknowns related to new modalities of care and therapies that contribute to the demand.

“Cancer treatments and regimes are constantly evolving and becoming more targeted for each person, so their impacts or side effects aren’t really known. Even early tumour response can affect the course of a patients swallowing and communication difficulties,” she said. 

“Also, we aren’t just working with the typical head and neck cancer population who traditionally struggle with swallowing and communication – we provide intervention for patients with lung, breast, lymphoma, leukaemia, brain and even prostate cancers.” 

Speech pathologists working in this specific area of cancer care, can initiate further swallowing investigations, intervene for patients experiencing nerve palsies, support communication difficulties for patients with brain tumours, or make modifications to diet and fluids to safely maintain nutrition while balancing quality of life.

As well as leading the speech pathology cancer service at Redlands Satellite Hospital, Renee is also collaborating with Logan Hospital Speech Pathology Department, to support services to cancer patients at the newly opened Eight Mile Plains Satellite Hospital.

Renee was awarded the PAH Staff Values Award for May for her amazing work on engagement in this space. Congratulations Renee!

Last updated 7 June 2024
Last reviewed 7 June 2024

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