Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Psychology and Social Science / Social Justice Research Centre
Purpose. Wellness approaches are not routine in childhood disability services, despite theoretical and empirical support and an increasing demand for them from health consumers and disability activists. We aimed to investigate how health professionals define or understand wellness and its practice in the context of childhood disability. Method. A qualitative, interpretive approach was taken. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 23 health professionals (allied health therapists and managers) providing early intervention and ongoing therapy within four Australian childhood health and disability services. Years of experience providing services to children with disabilities and their families ranged from 6 months to 30 years (M = 9.41, SD = 9.04). Results. The data revealed a noteworthy impediment to incorporating wellness into practice – the difficulties in the allied health professionals reaching consensus in defining wellness. There appeared to be distinct differences between the four services, while there appeared to be no appreciable difference based on the individual professional's years of experience or allied health discipline. Conclusions. The effect of organisational culture should be considered in efforts to embed wellness in childhood health and disability services in order to address client well-being, empowerment, choice, independence and rights to meaningful and productive lives.