On March 18th, at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis in Ireland, we temporarily ceased clinic-based services. It was impossible for our therapists to continue offering therapy services in person while complying with social distancing guidelines. This called for innovation, adaptation, and flexibility. We knew that our families would continue to need our services, particularly with the current crisis; school closures, change in daily routines and increased anxiety levels. Sensational Kids is proud to have set up a telehealth service to ensure continuity of service and to support families. This blog post aims to provide information on telehealth and to highlight the benefits of telehealth from the perspective of a therapist.
What is telehealth?
“Telehealth is the use of digital information and communication technologies, such as computers and mobile devices, to access health care services remotely. These may be technologies you use from home”. Telehealth is growing rapidly and has the potential to transform the delivery of health care and therapy for millions of people worldwide.
How are we offering telehealth?
We are facilitating telehealth through our existing booking system. Internet access is essential. An appointment is set-up like always and a link sent to parents via email. By clicking the link at the time of appointment, the family and therapist are immediately linked for a video consultation. In addition to this, we have developed an online system whereby parents can view the diary of the therapist and pick an available appointment slot that suits them. It is easy, accessible, and quick.
What are we offering via telehealth?
We have already provided a variety of services including parent consultations, video sessions, video analysis, parent coaching and the development of specialised home programmes. We are adapting to suit the individual needs of each family.
What are the benefits?
- Telehealth allows us to offer continued care and service provision for our children and families.
- If the child is used to attending therapy on a regular basis, therapy is one thing that can be kept consistent during this time of change and loss of structure.
- Telehealth is addressing access issues. There is no travel involved for families which is essential during the current climate. It also allows us to offer sessions to people who live too far away to ordinarily travel to sessions on a regular basis. We are now offering therapy to people in different counties and even countries.
- Parent coaching is a pivotal component of telehealth which evidence shows is essential for progress and accomplishing client goals. We are seeing that telehealth is empowering parents to confidently carry out recommended activities with their child daily, which leads to better outcomes for the child.
- Both children and parents are more comfortable in their own environment. This is particularly helpful for anxious children who can be slow to interact in the clinic.
- Telehealth provides us with a unique opportunity to observe the child in their everyday home environment, i.e. carrying out activities of daily living, engaging with their toys and interacting with siblings and other family members.
- By seeing the home environment, therapists can see the equipment that the child has at home and incorporate this in sessions. We can also give tips to parents around targeting goals using what they already have. Parents are realising, with our support, the therapeutic value of simplistic items they have around the house.
- The therapist can give practical advice that is realistic for the family, having seen the space and resources they have to work with.
- We are finding that children are motivated to engage and enjoy seeing and engaging with their therapist on the screen, while also being excited to virtually have them in their home.
- We have seen that in some cases, both parents can sit in for sessions, coaching or feedback and leave as required. It is not always possible for both parents to attend the clinic.
We really miss seeing, engaging, and playing with our children but are so relieved that we can continue to contribute and support them through telehealth, ensuring they continue to reach their potential.
Stay home, stay safe!
Senior Occupational Therapist, Sensational Kids
Learn More about appointments for Telehealth at Sensational Kids
Click Here to Book your telehealth appointment Online