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Health needs and timeliness of assessment of Victorian children entering out-of-home care: an audit of a multidisciplinary assessment clinic
journal contributionposted on 01.12.2019, 00:00 authored by Karen McLean, Keri LittleKeri Little, Harriet Hiscock, Dorothy Scott, Sharon Goldfeld
AIM: To describe the health needs identified in children attending a comprehensive health assessment at a tertiary hospital, multidisciplinary clinic for children following entry to out-of-home care and timeliness of referral and assessment compared with national recommendations. METHODS: This was a retrospective audit of all the children who attended the Pathway to Good Health clinic at The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne from May 2013 until 31 August 2016. RESULTS: A total of 119 children aged 0-12 years attended the clinic during the audit period. Of these children, 17% (including more than 30% of 0-2-year-olds) were not up-to-date with immunisations, and 87% had physical health concerns that were addressed on the day or needed further management. Over 50% had mental health concerns identified (76% of 7-12-year-olds). In children aged 3-6 years, 64% had behavioural problems and 77% had developmental problems identified. Only a third of the children was referred to the Pathway to Good Health clinic within the national standard of 30 days post-entry to care, and 24% of children attended within 3 months of entry to care. CONCLUSION: Children in out-of-home care within Victoria have high rates of physical, mental and developmental health concerns, consistent with previous studies. Timeliness of attendance at the clinic was low compared with national recommendations, even within a programme designed to facilitate timely health checks. This is the second and largest Australian study exploring timeliness of health checks. Further research would establish whether these results are more systemic.