COVID-19 has quickly changed the face of allied health, speech pathology included. In this period of uncertainty and change our Talkshop team has been busily working to make sure our clients can maintain routines and a sense of normality. This includes extending our telehealth service from our interstate clients to our local clients who we would normally see in person.
Many people are still uncertain about the ins and outs of Telehealth and how it could work for them. Essentially, telehealth refers to the application of telecommunications to deliver clinical services at a distance by linking clinician to client or caregiver for the purpose of assessment or therapy (SPA, 2014).
We are now 2 weeks into the telehealth transition. Here, we attempt to answer some of the most commonly asked questions in our clinic in this post.
What will I need?
Over the last week, all of our current clients have been given a telehealth activity pack full reward charts, therapy information and craft activities. These packs are now available for collection for anyone interested in online sessions with Talkshop. These have not been essential but have eased us all into telehealth sessions.
We use Zoom to connect with our clients. Zoom is our preferred platform, letting us share documents, images and online whiteboards in realtime. At home, Zoom can be accessed on your phone, tablet or computer.
What does online therapy look like?
Therapy is just as noisy, fun and dynamic as it always has been at our service! For our school-age speech and language clients, we have found any difficulties with attention and focus have been easily managed in our online sessions. Even our very young clients preschoolers have found therapy online to be engaging and fun.
In the days before your session, you will be sent an email with a Zoom meeting invitation and password. By clicking the link and entering your password. You can join the meeting room to begin your session with your speech pathologist.
Sessions continue to be individualised and targeted towards your child’s therapy goals. Kids love being online, and feel so grown up doing their sessions online! Our service has access to a number of online speech, language, literacy resources and games online that we can use in the session. It is easy for us to share these with you. The bonus is that you can now show us the games and activities that you have at home. This means that we can work with you in the moment to show you how you can maximise your home environment to make practice fun. We won’t promise you that it won’t have an obstacle course or two..?!
“Telehealth sessions means we’re delivering our services in real-time, closely resembling our everyday services in the clinic.”
Will this kind of therapy work?
Having worked with a number of clients interstate and overseas for a long time, we have been confident to now offer this to all our families during COVID-19. And our families have been eager to take up this option.
A systematic review of available research in 2017 found that telehealth delivered speech pathology is as effective as an in-person intervention for school-aged children (Wales, Skinner & Hayman, 2017). This means we are well placed to continue to support you or your child as they work towards achieving their speech, language and literacy goals.
Online services are a relatively new method of speech pathology and research is still emerging. All studies included in Wales, Skinner & Hayman’s 2017 review found that intervention delivered through telehealth is as effective as an in-person intervention.
Speech pathology sessions are largely based around talking, listening, reading and writing (Theodoros, 2012). These are easily continued in online sessions with little to no change with our overall session plans. Telehealth sessions means we’re delivering our services in real-time, closely resembling our everyday services in the clinic.