How to keep your child engaged in therapy services during Covid 19.
The COVID-19 virus has rapidly spiralled in Australia and has caused many changes to life as we have known it. One of the biggest industries affected has been Allied Health. To keep in line with the WHO guidelines to flatten the curve of COVID-19, Occupational Therapy Helping Children are connecting with families and continuing therapy through an online service called Telehealth.
For parents and carers who are not familiar with Telehealth, this blog post will outline what it is as well as the key benefits for your child.
What is Telehealth?
Occupational therapy services exist to support families with a child through a range of specific and targeted interventions. It is aimed at improving participation or performance thus improving a child’s overall quality of life.
Given the current COVID-19 restrictions in place, Telehealth is emerging as a well-founded and evidence-based solution to continue accessing occupational therapy.
Telehealth is “the delivery of assessment and therapy services at a distance by linking clinicians to clients, carers, or others, via technology such as web-based videoconferencing” (Hines, Bulkeley, Lincoln, Cameron, & Dudley, 2017, p. 1). It has many names, telehealth, telepractice, telecare, teleconferencing, teletherapy and online support. It is a well-researched platform to deliver services across the allied health sector.
It’s not a second-rate option!
Many families should know that Telehealth is not a ‘lesser than’ option, and many success stories and positive outcomes are pointing to it being a competitive option for therapy.
Telehealth can be successfully used with children to deliver Occupational Therapy services across a broad range of areas. This includes children with ADHD, ASD, developmental delays, motor coordination issues as well as handwriting.
In some cases, families who have a child with a strong interest in technology, Telehealth is able to engage their child even more than face-to-face sessions.
What Do I Need To Set Up For Telehealth At Home?
- Good internet connection and speed
- Laptop or computer with webcam and working microphone and audio. (For families with children receiving therapy with handwriting goals, setting up the video so that the child’s hands are in view is preferred).
- iPads can also be used
- Lined and unlined paper or exercise book
- Stationary (pencil, eraser, coloured pencils, scissors, glue) within reach
- Any items recommended by your Occupational Therapist that you have available at home
Tips For Telehealth Setup
- Find a quiet space with the least amount of distractions
- Ensure your child is not distracted by their siblings
- Table/chair set up so your child can write during the session.
What Does A Telehealth Session Look Like?
For younger children or children with delayed language development, therapy will be delivered using parent coaching. This means the parent is involved in the session and is guided by the Occupational Therapist on how to implement the therapy. Therapy using a “coach” approach is linked with better outcomes as parents learn strategies that can be carried over into their day to day lives.
For older children who can manage technology themselves, they will be able to participate in Telehealth sessions independently to meet their Occupational Therapy goals.
What Are The Benefits Of Telehealth?
- Allows for social distancing
- Happens in the comfort of your own home
- Real-life situations as done in the child’s home
- Parents will learn from the Occupational Therapy during the session
- Your child might interact better over a screen