Who We Are?
We are new occupational therapy (OT) graduates who recently completed their doctoral capstone projects involving telehealth. Our projects involved working on telehealth training for therapists, the creation of tools to help families and caregivers be successful with telehealth and the administration of telehealth for use with early intervention. The focus on telehealth for all of these projects came on suddenly in the wake of Covid-19. With telehealth as an emerging area of practice, many therapists found themselves underprepared for the quick transition to remote service delivery. We were tasked to step in to meet the organizational needs regarding the sudden implementation of telehealth and to create sustainable plans for its long-term use. Please see below for brief descriptions of our projects, results, and some tips we learned along the way.
How Do Our OT Experiences Look Like?
Telehealth Tips and Tricks
- Incorporate movement activities to minimize sedentary screen time
- Consider if your client and family are a good fit for telehealth
- Actively involve parents and utilize parent coaching strategies; establish preferred level of caregiver involvement ahead of time and reiterate as needed
- Minimize material use and be creative with common household items
- Ensure the video-conferencing service is HIPPA compliant to maintain confidentiality
- Have a back-up plan in the event of a technology glitch
- Be prepared to respond in unexpected scenarios, such as if the child has a behavioral outburst or if an activity is not engaging to the child
- If possible, use a direct ethernet connection instead of WI-FI
- Consider screen size and visual processing of the child when sharing activities via the screen
- If performing telehealth for prolonged periods, consider your own posture, ensure breaks and stretches are performed, and research proper ergonomic set-ups for your computer
Interestingly, many clinical programs require minimal training in telehealth. We do anticipate that to change in the near future. This is an area where further research and the development of standardized protocols is absolutely necessary. It is difficult to train students in an area of practice that has yet to be thoroughly explored. With Covid-19, new research is being performed and we believe standards for telehealth will continue to be established.
In our program, we did a telehealth simulation with a fellow classmate over Zoom. It was very helpful, but everything was set up in an ideal way with minimal uncontrollable variables. We think it would be a great option to practice telehealth in a low-threat environment with real patients, while ensuring students get exposure to several different web-conference services. Furthermore, it is essential to work with real families gaining exposure to socio-economic factors and cultural diversity that greatly impacts the delivery of telehealth services.
CIDDL seeks to support technology use in related services for students with disabilities, families, and professionals. Have ideas for how we can help? Reach out here, or sign up for our newsletter here.