4 Little Checks
GOAL - Children are on optimum developmental pathways.
Access to health and early year’s information and trusting relationships between services and parents are important to support access to health and well-being services. Community feedback supported the need for a collective approach to enhanced early intervention and child health in Kwinana and Cockburn.
The 4 Little Checks Action Team was formed around the time the Community Child Health program updated the health and development assessments and screening schedule. The action team focused on increasing awareness of child development milestones, implementing early intervention initiatives and working with primary healthcare professionals to roll-out early intervention rapid trials for hearing and developmental assessments.
Current focus - Ears2Learn
About the initiative
In a partnership between Connecting Community for Kids, Earbus Foundation of WA, Goodstart Early Learning, NursePrac Australia and The Smith Family a community model for ear screening and surveillance is being designed and rolled out. This will provide more access points for universal ear checks for children in Kwinana and Cockburn areas aged 0 – 5 years before they commence school.
Non-health professionals have been trained by Earbus Foundation to provide ear screening for children. These screeners have all their results reviewed by Audiologists from Earbus and are required to take Competencies every 6 months to ensure a standard of care across screeners and sites. They will deliver these ear screens in childcare and community settings and support parents with accessing treatment pathways and provide ongoing surveillance.
The screens will:
- Detect any potential abnormalities in the external ear canal
- Make sure there are no perforations of the ear drum
- Detect evidence of potential ear infections or disease (Otitis Media)
- Check for any blockages in the external ear canal or fluid in the middle ear
- Check the overall function of the middle ear
- Be tracked over time and onward referral initiated as appropriate
Why ear screening is important
- Early detection and intervention is key to providing a better outcome
- If not diagnosed and treated, middle ear infections can have serious developmental consequences
- Good ear health is important for early childhood development as ear infections can lead to hearing loss and consequently falling behind at school
- Ear infections lead to repeat illnesses and absences from school
- Poor ear health can lead to delayed speech and language skills
How the checks are conducted
The checks involve a 15-20 minute appointment, where parents will firstly complete a milestone checklist. Following this a trained educator will conduct two tests on the children’s ears.
- Use an otoscope to look into the child’s ear for a general ear exam
- Perform a tympanogram, a test which will rule out the presence of fluid in the middle ear, a middle ear infection, perforation of the ear drum or Eustachian tube dysfunction.
Services taking part
- Goodstart Early Learning (Success, Bertram, Atwell, Cockburn Central),
- Bright Futures
- Babbingur Mia
Me at 2 Passport
This booklet is based on stages of development for children at two years of age and helps parents’ knowledge of how their child is growing and developing. It is full of fun and simple activities for two year olds.
This initiative originated from the Me at 3 program from the Peel Early Years Collective.
In 2018 we worked with four early learning centres, Nurse Prac Australia and Telethon Speech and Hearing to provide health, development and ear checks for young children. The familiar environment and involvement of early learning educators made the experience a positive one for children. Significantly, we found 59% of children screened were recommended for a second hearing screen in 4-6 week’s time. The importance of ear health and hearing on a child’s development has been a continued focus of the Action Team.
Working with Goodstart Early Learning, NursePrac Australia, The Smith Family and Earbus Foundation of Western Australia, we are exploring training non-health professionals to provide ear screening for children in community settings.