Wednesday, January 12, 2022

‘Making the Most of Together-Time’: Development of a Health Visitor Led Intervention to Support Children’s Early Language and Communication Development at the 2-2½ Year-Old Review

McKean, C., Watson, R., Charlton, J., Roulstone, S., Holme, C., Gilroy, V., & Law, J., (preprint). ‘Making the Most of Together-Time’: Development of a Health Visitor Led Intervention to Support Children’s Early Language and Communication Development at the 2-2½ Year-Old Review. Research Square.

    Poor language development may negatively affect many areas of an individual’s life including education and literacy, mental health and social-emotional well-being, and even employment. Early intervention is important, but challenging. This study reported on a process of developing an evidence-based intervention program for healthcare visitors in The Healthy Child Programme (UK) to implement to improve the health of babies, children, and their families in the UK. The goal was to develop the intervention by working together with practitioners and the parents of children currently receiving speech and language services. The paper reports the intervention design process.

    The development process included 5 stages made up of a series of reviews of literature, study team workshops, the development of workshop materials, the development of material and intervention prototypes, and multiple rounds of co-design workshops held with parents and practitioners. Following each stage, the research team used what they had learned to help prepare for the next stage of development. The involvement of the parents and practitioners allowed the research team to gather other perspectives and input from those individuals who would be directly involved in using the intervention.

    Briefly, the final intervention model consists of having the Health Care Visitors show parents how to use a specific behaviour for just 10-15 minutes per day to target a specific language goal for their child. Depending on the needs of the specific child/family, the Health Care Visitor would provide support at one of three levels. For example, if the child was at a low risk for poor language development, the family would be provided with resources to help them create an environment that would support language development (these same resources were provided to all families). If the child was identified as being at risk of poor language development and the family had access to resources and support, the Health Care Visitor would use a self-directed approach, meaning they would show parents/caregivers how to use various strategies to support their child’s language development. Finally, if the child was at risk of poor language development, but the family had barriers in accessing resources or supports (for example, financial barriers, geographic barriers, physical barriers), the Health Care Visitor used a coaching approach, where additional face-to-face support and additional resources (such as books or social supports) were provided.

    This study provides an excellent road map for how a team of researchers, clinicians, and end-users can partner together to design a feasible intervention system that fits a service context and provides a model for early intervention more broadly.

Blogger: Rachel Benninger is a combined MClSc/PhD student working under the supervision of Dr. Lisa Archibald

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