Amidst the chaos, disruption and at times, the huge emotional load we are all going through, a lot of people are finding creative ways to work. That includes me.
Before COVID-19, I had briefly thought about setting up some kind of speech and language tele-therapy for clients who were not local to me or for providing clinical supervision to other therapists but it never materialised with a busy face to face caseload.
However, now I have plenty of time! So I decided to give it a go.
Here’s a few things that I’ve learnt along the way which might help another therapist (not necessarily a Speech and Language Therapist), starting up:
1. Zoom is the best platform for confidentiality and functionality.
From what I have researched, going between the Royal College of Speech and Langauge Therapists and Association of Speech and Language Therapists forums and my own research on different platforms, Zoom appears to be the most secure platform.
You are able to set up meetings that require a password and also have a waiting room for any new participants that may want to join the meeting. The waiting room means you can stop anyone joining that shouldn't be there.
I have used the screen mirroring on my phone to use my camera as a visualiser for assessments and you can also screen share documents, PowerPoint presentations, websites and apps through Zoom. This has definitely made sharing therapy resources easier.
2. Clients want to see me!
75% of my caseload are continuing their therapy sessions with me during this period.
I‘ve had to make tweaks to my session plans as there are certain therapy tasks that don’t work through the computer but I’m continuing to work towards client’s goals.
I've also taken on new clients and have found that through a thorough case history and assessment, I've been able to adequately plan for future therapy.
Feedback has generally been very good and it's even got some of my more mature clients confidently using face time with their families during their period of isolation.
3. I‘ve had to get creative.
Teletherapy has definitely shaken up my practice and made me explore different activities that I might not have used. I've found new resources online that I haven’t used for a while like "Better conversations with Aphasia" and had to work out ways of using existing resources, particularly my go to games for children’s speech therapy, that work.
Particularly with my clients that are children, I have found that speaking with their parents, demonstration and talking through steps for homework practice has been more valuable at times than trying to get the children to focus on tasks throughout the session. It's all about being flexible and my experience and confidence as a Speech and Language Therapist helps with this.
4. Preparation is key.
I've sent along session notes and plans before hand for some sessions when I am not quite sure if something is going to work or I’m introducing new ideas or resources. This means the client has time to look through these and ask any questions during the session.
5. It’s fun!
I’ve really enjoyed challenging myself with Tele-therapy and keeping in touch with my lovely clients.
It’s been good to know that I can support my clients with their needs during a time when they perhaps cannot access other services.
This week I’ve travelled over 150 miles across Essex without leaving my house which is pretty cool!
I hope I’ve inspired someone to give it a go. If you’re a client or clinician and you want to chat about any of the finer details, please do get in touch amy@CISLT.com or 07903608373.