Telehealth can be just as effective as an in-person appointment and is often much more convenient for clients. We’re offering telehealth and other virtual therapy options during COVID-19 to ensure you keep getting the therapy you need without having to come to the clinic.
It’s easy to prepare for your telehealth appointment. You’ve probably already got the right equipment at home and just need to make sure your battery is fully charged and you’re in a quiet, comfy spot. In this post *insert link*, we explain our approach to telehealth so you’re good to go when it’s time for your appointment.
What to Expect from Your Telehealth Appointment
We’ve all tried a lot of new things recently – working from home, iso bingo, and homeschooling, to name just a few.
Telehealth is another new experience for many people during this period. So, what’s it like? Does it work for speech and language therapy? And how do you get ready for a telehealth appointment with SpeechEase?
What is Telehealth?
Telehealth is a way of providing healthcare over the phone or through video conferencing software like Zoom.
Telehealth has enabled people to continue receiving medical care and therapy while practising social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It means you can connect with your doctor or therapist while staying at home.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made telehealth much more widely available in Australia. It’s not brand new though. Particularly in rural and remote areas, telehealth has been used for many years to overcome the tyranny of distance. Indeed, the first reported case of telehealth in Australia dates back to 1874 when a doctor in Adelaide used the newly constructed telegraph line to provide medical advice to treat an injured man in the Northern Territory.
Benefits of Telehealth
For clients, the benefits of telehealth include:
- No travel time
- No parking hassles
- No need to drag other kids along or arrange childcare
- No exposure to other people who may be sick (the reason telehealth has expanded during COVID-19)
- Access to specialists who might be too far away to see in person
- It’s quicker because you just need to set aside time for the appointment, not the whole trip
- No need to negotiate several hours off work.
Basically, telehealth is often much more convenient. And that tends to mean that it’s easier to commit to a series of appointments so that you or your child can make progress.
Telehealth for Speech Therapy
There’s a growing body of research into telehealth for speech and language therapy.
One study found that primary school aged children with speech and language difficulties receiving therapy through telehealth made significant progress at a similar rate to those receiving face-to-face therapy. Other studies showed that telehealth resulted in more active engagement among families of young children with autism.
The Coaching Model of Telehealth
The big difference with telehealth is – obviously! – that we’re not there in person providing therapy directly. You are there with your child though, and that means telehealth is actually a wonderful opportunity to train you in the right therapy methods to help your child.
You’re not just with them in a 45-minute appointment like we are; you’re there every day. So if we can coach you to deliver effective speech and language therapy, you can put it into practice over breakfast or at bathtime or at any other time of the day. You might find that you’re making much quicker progress than you ever expected.
How to Get Ready for Your Telehealth Appointment with SpeechEase
There are many different ways to run a telehealth session. Here at SpeechEase, we’re using Zoom, with telephone calls as a back-up option.
Here’s how to get ready for your appointment.
- Equipment: You’ll need a reliable internet connection and a computer, tablet or smartphone that includes a camera and microphone so we can see and hear each other. Make sure it is fully charged or can be quickly plugged in if the battery fades. It’s also handy to have a notepad and pen nearby so you can write down any key bits of information that you want to remember.
- Place: You can sit anywhere you like in your home but we recommend that you choose somewhere comfortable and quiet where you won’t be distracted. If you have other kids, it’s often helpful to give them something to occupy them during their sibling’s appointment so that you can concentrate (though we fully understand that interruptions are bound to happen!).
- Time: Please be ready a few minutes before your appointment time.
- Zoom: We will have already sent you an email confirming your appointment and giving you the Zoom meeting ID and password for your session. When it’s time for your appointment, click on the Zoom link in your email then enter the password when prompted. You should see a message saying that you’re in an online waiting room and we’ll let you into the meeting soon.
- Therapy: The session will feel very similar to coming into the clinic. You’ll see the same familiar therapist and be working towards your agreed goals. As always at SpeechEase, we make sure the session is fun, with lots of games to keep your child engaged (sometimes this is actually easier on a screen than in the clinic).
- Payment: If you usually pay on the day, then one of our clinic support officers will appear at the end of your therapy session to take your payment (just like stopping at our reception desk on your way out of the clinic). If you usually pay in a different way, then we’ll send you an invoice.
- Notes and homework: Your therapist will email you any notes from the session and any homework or exercises to work on.
If you’d like to try a telehealth appointment, then give us a call on 1300 773 273. It’s worth trying more than once too, as it can take a bit of time to adjust to any new way of doing things. If you’d like to continue telehealth when we eventually return to the clinic, we are more than happy to make this work for you – just let us know!
We know telehealth doesn’t suit all clients though. If you don’t think it’ll work for you, then we’re happy to try other therapy options.