Like many regional clinics, the Bathurst Base Hospital Paediatric Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus (T1DM) clinic has evolved and expanded in recent years to provide advanced care to an increasing patient cohort. A multidisciplinary team has been brought together, with access to support and advice from a tertiary centre diabetes team now provided by telehealth. An evaluation of the effectiveness of these service changes from the parent and carer perspective is therefore timely. A mixed-methods approach employing an anonymous survey and individual interviews has been used to explore parent/carer views of current service delivery.
Participants expressed general satisfaction with offered services, though tended to be more accepting of the face-to-face local multidisciplinary clinic than telehealth clinics. Qualitative analysis is ongoing, but positive themes that are emerging from the data relate to the continuity of care that is being provided via a stable multidisciplinary team, and the consistency of information provision both between members of the team and with information obtained through external sources (e.g. online diabetes information). With regard to telehealth, two emerging themes are time and the presentation of the specialist. Participants expressed that the telehealth process is enabling them to have more one-on-one time with the specialist than the face-to-face outreach clinics used to allow for. However, some parents reported feeling that the friendliness of the specialist could sometimes be lost in the telehealth process, and this made it difficult for both themselves and their child to engage with the consultation. The lack of local peer support networks in this regional area has also emerged as an important theme.
Regional paediatric T1DM clinics can provide multidisciplinary care that meets the overall needs of parents and carers. Recommendations from this research will be presented to the local clinic for consideration and identified issues will be further explored in future research.