For nearly a year we have used digital communication platforms for most of our interactions with other human beings because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This means your work meetings and personal connections likely involve a screen of squares filled with smiling faces looking much like the opening of the Brady Bunch. In pre-pandemic times we associated certain activities with a place or time - we commuted to work, went to the gym, had brunch with friends or walked to school. Now, it’s all done on one screen and boundaries have become mucky, transitions quick, and multi-tasking has become the norm.
Our interactions as and with healthcare practitioners occurs via Telehealth too. For some this will be temporary but for many, they may choose to continue to provide Telehealth services. How does one take care of their own wellbeing while working in a Telehealth environment?
It takes some intentionality, but these 6 steps can help!
Hi, my name is Janet Ottersberg and I have worked as an Occupational Therapist for over 30 years. I have had the pleasure to work with clients from neonates to 104 year olds and have worked in all settings that OT’s practice. I am so grateful for this career that has allowed me to be flexible and work according to my lifestyle needs at the time. As a single parent, this flexibility allowed me to be there for my child as much as possible and still have a flourishing career. All the shifting I learned to do as a single parent afforded me the experience to create the changes necessary to continue to work, despite a global pandemic.
As this global pandemic drags on and on, many of us in the rehabilitation field have had to make accommodations to stay afloat in the field of Occupational Therapy. Some people have left the field, some have changed their practice to a hybrid model and for many of us that shift included moving to a telehealth model of treatment. I...
This USB headset with a microphone is noise canceling which enhances both focus and patient privacy during sessions.
#2 Ring Light
A ring light ensures better quality lighting for video calls. The tripod stand allows for adjustments, portability, and an easy setup. This ring light is USB powered and has different light modes to create a welcoming environment.
A user-friendly platform for both the therapist and the clients! With no signup fees, no subscription fees, no application fees, it’s as easy as a click of a button for just 3 cents per minute for calls. Better Telehealth is a HIPAA compliant, secure platform where all of your administrative work is done for you, including automatic reminders and digital consent forms. Access Better Telehealth from any device with easy functions such as screen sharing, recording, and text chats!
Trello is a free way to stay organized! The easy...
If you are just starting out as a Telehealth OT provider, the question of which platform to use for sessions can be a hard decision. Do you need a platform with electronic medical records (EMR)? One that can handle billing? Scheduling options? Specific tech features? These are all things to consider when shopping around for a new platform.
When browsing through platforms, here are a few things to consider when choosing what’s best for your practice.
It’s a Monday morning in September, the new school year is only a few weeks underway, and you’re still getting comfortable in your new routine. You have 20 minutes until your first client. They are doing virtual school this year, which is new to them too.
As you boot up your computer you think to yourself, I love this job, at home, steps away from my coffee pot, I can cross my legs at my desk, my pup is sleeping under my desk, and I’m helping people from the comfort of my home. How could I get so lucky?
As you boot up Zoom and plug in your headset you make sure you have your props and water within reach and get ready to start the call.
You go to dial in and Zoom crashes - it’s okay, just breathe. “I still have time”, you say to yourself.
You reboot your computer and try again…
This time it works, but no audio - great, now what? I can’t not have audio during my session,...
I LOVE MY JOB, I LOVE MY JOB, I LOVE MY JOB.
Yes, that’s true. I LOVE my job! Being an entrepreneur is one of the most gratifying elements of my career I have ever experienced. From being home and available for my girls to making my own hours and being able to take vacation time without having to run it by someone other than my family. It is so freeing!
Yes, this is enough! This is really all of it, but entrepreneurship in and of itself is my favorite and it is so much more than that!
Yes, it’s daunting to start, but as I said above, it has freedom, which leads to happiness and self-exploration. Above all, entrepreneurship has opened the door to friendships!
Who would have thought friendships or relationships would have been my favorite thing about the entrepreneurial side of my practice? Not me, but I am so glad I’ve found them.
What’s even wilder, is that these friendships are strictly online. People I’ve never met in person....
What do you do when you’re visiting a patient’s home virtually and they have nothing?
How do you work with somebody who doesn’t have materials?
My answer is this: You go back to basics. You go back to function. You go back to the root of occupational therapy.
If goals were set to be clinic or school-based, you will have to do a re-assessment. With Telehealth we want to focus on how can we help parents with their routine or help our patients be functional at home with their daily activities.
Go back to basics. Focus on function, focus on ADLs. Can Johnny wake up in the morning and go brush his teeth independently? Can he get dressed? Is he potty trained? How’s the sleep routine? Is he eating? Is he feeding himself? Can Susie make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Can she spread the peanut butter? The same applies to adults.
If you were working on supination and pronation, can he/she flip the bread over while making a sandwich? Get creative. Don’t worry...
So you’re in your first Telehealth evaluation with a parent and child. What are the first steps you should take? How do you know if you’ve done a complete evaluation?
I’ll walk you through my assessment process in this blog series.
Let's start with “My Top 4 Tips to Observing and Asking Questions When Starting An Evaluation” I’ll be using peds as my example, but keep in mind this applies to all patients you may encounter!
1) Are you asking the right question(s)?
As a clinician working in paediatrics, it’s important to be focused on the parent interview. You really want to get down to the nitty-gritty and figure out what the parent is having trouble with. I like to ask parents, “What are you struggling with?” This also applies to other clients. Their current struggle is important to focus on because you make their treatment plan individualized to their needs. Here’s how I do it…
Just go straight to the...
You have to wear pants. No, really. I think this is super, super important. Don’t think “Oh I work from home, I can be comfortable and wear whatever I want.”
When I dress for the day to work from home in my Telehealth business, I dress as if I’m leaving out the door and people will see me. I don’t wear pajama pants, just because my legs aren’t visible. As I am writing this, for example, I’m wearing a polo shirt, jeans, and shoes. You’re probably thinking “Really? Shoes?”. Yes. You should even put on your shoes because if you’re going to stand up and to demonstrate something for a client, you don’t want to show your bare feet. Be fully dressed and look professional.
Aside from looking professional and looking the part, you’re going to want to feel the part. I just showered. I just got dressed. I feel like I’m ready to work. I’m ready for my day. If I do the opposite, for example, half...
You wouldn’t believe the number of messages I have been getting regarding children’s emotions lately.
Here are some examples:
“If my daughter doesn’t get her way, she just throws a fit and there’s no way getting her back from that.”
“My son threw a shoe at his brother the other day.”
“My daughter gets home from school and just wants to be alone.”
“My son doesn’t know how to express his emotions.”
“My son is very angry, he cries and fights with me all the time.”
[Note: The wording has been changed to protect the concerned parent]
Parents are feeling completely helpless and are asking for strategies to help their child. It is important to note that poor emotional regulation can present as anger, lethargy, decreased attention/concentration, lack of sleep, isolation, tantrums, and difficulty transitioning from one task to another.
So what can you do? Start with this:
-work on expressing...