What is Telehealth?
Telehealth is the application of telecommunications technology to deliver clinical services at a distance by linking clinician to client, caregiver, or any person(s) involved in client care for the purposes of assessment, intervention, consultation and/or supervision (Mora et al 2008; RACGP, 2019). Telehealth is also referred to as telepractice, telerehabilitation, or telespeech.
Online therapy services allow people who may otherwise be unable to access therapy to get the support they need. Your therapist or an intake officer from our team will determine your suitability and any potential barriers before getting you started with online therapy.
Is there any research to support the delivery of online therapy services?
There is a growing body of evidence supporting the use of online sessions for occupational therapy indicating that these services are usually at least as effective as standard face-to-face therapy. Examples of some findings from high quality research include:
- A systematic review of 15 studies on the use of ‘telerehabilitation’ for occupational therapy indicated overall positive therapeutic effects for clients (Hung & Fong, 2019).
- A cross-sectional study of 230 occupational therapists during the COVID-19 pandemic revealed 77% support the use of telehealth to replace in-person services and 78% support telehealth as a permanent option for occupational therapy service delivery (Dahl-Popolizio et al., 2020).
The evidence base surrounding online therapy services is promising, but also still growing as researchers call for more thorough and well designed studies. Our occupational therapist has and continues to complete training in current best-practice online therapy models, to ensure that they are still providing quality, evidence-based practice.
“Occupational Therapy Australia (OTA) supports the use of telehealth services that comply with WFOT principles and are client centred, evidence based, fit for purpose and within Occupational Therapy scope of practice (WFOT, 2014; OTA, 2017).”
– Occupational Therapy Australia (2020)
How do I get this service?
If you are new to our clinic, let us know that this is something you would be interested in and we will follow all normal intake procedures to get you matched up with the most suitable therapist. As part of that process we will ensure you have a quick test session prior to your assessment or initial session.
If you are an existing client, either your therapist is setting this up with you for continuation of your current service, as a back up for future times when you may not be able to attend in person OR, you simply may want to move to this model of service.
What are the requirements?
We use Zoom to allow us to set up meetings with you via video. It’s simple and we will guide you through it!
- Follow the links sent to you by your therapist via email.
- The links will take you to an online meeting hosted by Hills District Speech Therapy.
- The first time you click on one of these links you will be prompted to download the Zoom launcher (desktop) or Zoom app (portable devices). You can either download this and access your session or ignore this and it will open in your browser. It is however recommended you download the launcher or app as this will improve your experience.
- You DO NOT need to create a Zoom account to attend sessions.
Security, Privacy and Confidentiality
Zoom is a government grade, end-to-end encrypted program, which means that no-one is able to access the content of the call/meeting except those in attendance. As with all our sessions, any information provided within the session will be kept in strict confidence and comply with State and Federal privacy policies. If recording of any part of the session is required, we will ask for your consent in advance. Any recordings will be stored securely by Hills District Speech Therapy. We will continue to share confidential documentation such your reports and forms via email.
Preparing for my session
Telehealth can also be a fantastic option for accessing group therapy, particularly when clients are unable to meet face to face on a regular basis.
Prior to commencing online therapy services, ensure that you have set up your regular session time with our bookings team (email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call: 9054 1996) or your occupational therapist. Once a time has been set up, you will get an SMS reminder.
Your therapist will ensure that this time is booked into their calendar and that all other attendees (such as in the case of group therapy) are aware of the session time/s. Prior to your session, a test run of zoom will be conducted to ensure that all attendees are ready to participate. It helps to also read over any instructions for the set up of your session that your occupational therapist may have sent you beforehand.
Please remember, your occupational therapist will be working out what the session will look like and any potential changes to your current goals or adaptations to therapy materials to make this work!
After your session is completed, confirm the time and date of your next zoom call, and if possible, provide feedback to your occupational therapist about the experience and what could be done to improve it for your next session.
Does someone need to be with the client during the session?
It is helpful to have a parent, carer, or other facilitator present with the client. This individual may assist during the session to resolve technical issues that arise, support service provision as appropriate, manage therapy materials and camera angles, verify observations, and respond to urgent situations (e.g. disconnections). Facilitators are key in ensuring that the client’s environment is private, secure, and distraction-free. Although some clients may be safely and effectively served without an onsite facilitator, having someone else present helps to reduce risk and promote generalisation of skills to other contexts.
Depending on the situation, the facilitator role could be filled by AHAs, parents, partners, teachers, support workers, or other professionals. Occupational therapists should evaluate individual procedures and determine whether a facilitator requires specific skills to support them and if the facilitator has skills to support a session. Occupational therapists should help facilitators understand the role of each person in the interaction and any activities, materials, etc. that are required in a session.
Please remember that the first couple of sessions may require some adapting on both ends so do be patient. Anything new requires practice for all involved! Please remember that we will be adjusting our therapy week to week and speaking with you on how to improve the experience overall.
In some cases, your therapy will look a bit different to what you are used to in face to face sessions however, we will ensure it is just as effective in reaching your goals.
What are my responsibilities as a client?
- Work with my therapist to ensure that the services and supports delivered
- Treat my therapist with courtesy and respect.
- Talk to HDST (specifically Yasemin or Alana) if I have any concerns about the services or supports being provided by my therapists.
- Abide by the Hills District Speech Therapy cancellation policy.
- Give my therapist reasonable notice if I would like to cease services.
- Disclose any important information that can impact upon the client and/or clinician’s safety and/or ability to provide a quality service.
- Inform my therapist if any changes in the client’s health/circumstances have changed.
- Inform my therapist if the client has been in contact with others that have returned from international travels or diagnosed/present with symptoms of communicable, infectious diseases (i.e. COVID-19) at least 14 days prior to attending the clinic/saw the clinician face to face
- Follow updates regarding our trading days, upcoming events and additional services through our social media sites – one of our primary means of communicating with clients.
NDIS clients have no restrictions on using online therapy services with their funding. Private insurers may cover occupational therapy telepractice services on a case-by-case basis. Members are advised to contact individual insurers to determine whether this would be covered by their current policy.
*Don’t forget to complete a payment authorisation form so we can easily and securely take your payment online following your session. This form can be emailed to you.