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Lynette Spicer

Lynette Spicer, Speech Pathology Head of Department, Child and Family Health, Primary Care and Community Health

Reflections on a challenging year in health care

11 Dec 2020


Speech Pathology Head of Department, Child and Family Health, Primary Care Community Health (PCCH), at Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District (NBMLHD), Lynette Spicer and her team, are continuing to keep staff, clients, their families and the community safe during COVID-19.

How has your role changed with COVID-19?

While the role of providing leadership to the speech pathology department has stayed the same, my focus now has been ensuring the safety and wellbeing of staff, clients, their families and the community, during COVID-19.

This has required rostering for door screening, applying COVID-19 updates to a speech pathology context, and modifying models of care. We continue to rapidly transform our service delivery to meet Ministry of Health guidelines.

Have you ever experienced anything similar to this pandemic?

NBMLHD PCCH has been affected by other disasters, including the 2013 bushfires and the 2019/2020 bushfires.

During these disasters, services needed to be cancelled and reorganised at short notice. There were daily checks on staff safety and wellbeing and we had to deal with some staff being unavailable due to road closures and other damage.

These situations required ongoing monitoring and flexibility. We worked to ensure even our more vulnerable clients were getting the information they needed to stay safe. While these experiences are different to COVID-19, they have built skills in resilience and flexibility.

What have been your biggest challenges during COVID-19?

My greatest challenge personally, was having my father unexpectedly need a quadruple bypass in June, and then have a life-threatening immune response to a medication he had been given. We were very close to losing him. Three months later, and he is doing better than ever, which is such a blessing.

I struggled with not being able to touch people. I love being able to hug nieces and nephews and other family members, so missed being able to do this. I keep reminding myself that others are in worse situations and I have been more conscious of saying ‘I love you’ to those I would normally hug.

Work has felt different too. Quite rightly, much of the media and community focus has been on acute medical services’ preparation to receive life-threating cases of COVID-19, management of active cases and testing of suspected cases.

At the same time, community health services such as Child and Family Health, have been focussed on ensuring families and their children continue to engage in our services to ensure their health and developmental needs are met.

A number of the families we were supporting disengaged from services at the beginning of COVID-19 and we have worked hard to stay in touch and re-engage them in therapy.

It has been a challenge to think critically about the services we provide and to support my department to transform the way they are providing services to clients, working through the limitations of COVID-19 restrictions in the workplace, to provide a quality service that is also safe and accessible for children and their families during this time.

What do you do to cope with the pressures and stress of living and working during the pandemic?

I find being a support to others, and being supported by others, has been essential. I have noticed and appreciated the people I manage, my co-workers and my managers, have been looking out for me and I have been doing the same for them.

As we look after each other, we are better equipped to take on the challenges of looking after the changing needs of our clients and community in a changing environment.

I also think having a strong personal Christian faith in a God, who works through the worst of situations to bring about good, gives me a sense of security and a bigger perspective on life.

To unwind, I love being immersed in creative processes either creating something myself or enjoying the creativity of others.