Telepractice - Information for Clients

Benefits of this Therapy Model:

  • Allows access to services from a distance, and minimizes time and location constraints.

  • Can continue therapy sessions when extenuating circumstances prevent you from having an in-person session with a Speech-Language Pathologist, or when your community or school does not have an SLP nearby.

 

In addition to versatile delivery of services, teletherapy also allows the clinician to access a variety of materials and resources with the click of a button, meaning there is an endless amount of fun and engaging activities that may be included in a session!  The activities are versatile and fun as well, which also increases the motivation for children to engage with the clinician and the material, despite physical distance between client and clinician.

Have you considered receiving teletherapy? Technology offers an infinite number of possibilities, all at our fingertips! Through teletherapy, access to speech and language therapy sessions is one of these possibilities. Teletherapy or telepractice is the delivery of speech-language services via technology which offers audio and visual communication (e.g., video conferencing). These sessions have the potential to target a variety of speech and language goals.

Teletherapy can be used for assessment and observation, intervention in the form of therapy sessions, and consultation. Articulation of speech sounds, a variety of language, literacy, parent training and social goals can be supported through teletherapy session

Technology & Safety

Andrea has taken the time to research the best platform and to carefully follow the guidelines from the College of Speech & Hearing Professionals of BC (CSHBC). There are many platforms which may be used for teletherapy, however Andrea’s goal is to ensure that the client’s privacy and college regulations are all prioritized in the process of using technology with the necessary safety features (e.g., encryption).

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All in all, teletherapy is not entirely dissimilar to direct in-person therapy, however particular elements must be taken into extra consideration —from preparation to implementation. Andrea has researched and implemented the following into her current telepractice to provide you with the confidence in this form of service delivery:

  1. Preparation: Becoming familiarized with regulatory requirements and applicable privacy laws.

  2. Planning: Laying the groundwork for effective telepractice service delivery (e.g., verifying informed consent to proceed with telepractice).

  3. Environment: Creating a professional environment and necessary therapy materials in the telepractice ‘workspace’.

  4. Technology/Equipment: Ensuring techniques to optimize technology and equipment.

  5. Support for families/clients: Providing ongoing help for families/carers to understand their roles and to facilitate sessions.

 

For further information on receiving teletherapy or telepractice services, contact Andrea Lau at Speech Vancouver to learn more. Please phone 604 723 9589 or email: andrealau.slp@gmail.com

 

COVID-19 UPDATES

Updated on May 24, 2020

To ensure the safety of all my valued clients and their families, Andrea is currently following the Provincial Health Officer, BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), WorkSafeBC, and the College of Speech & Hearing Health Professionals of BC (CSHBC) for guidance and direction on how to proceed during these uncertain times. I thank you for your patience and understanding during this time, and I hope that everyone stays safe and healthy. 

As referenced from the College of Speech & Hearing Health Professionals of BC (CSHBC) website --- "During the COVID-19 pandemic, CSHBC recommended: All Registered Audiologists, Registered Hearing Instrument Practitioners, and Registered Speech-Language Pathologists who work in private practice should suspend in-person elective and non-essential services, and only provide urgent and emergent services."

As of May 19th, the CSHBC has also issued new guidance that is in line with the BC's Restart Plan: Registered SLPs can begin to resume in-person practice in a way that promotes safe care to clients and prevents the spread of the virus. As a new normal is being defined, we [SLPs] will have to adjust how they deliver care, conduct business, and attend to physical environments to ensure best infection prevention and control practices. In some cases, the ongoing use of digital technology to provide virtual care may still be the best option.

The goal is to gradually resume services while adhering, wherever possible, to physical distancing and following other guidelines and best practices. 

BC Restart Plan

"In some cases, the ongoing use of digital technology to provide virtual care may still be the best option." - CSHBC

Guiding Principles for Resuming Practice ---- The following select principles (as referenced from CSHBC website) are foundational for reintroducing healthcare services in the context of COVID-19:

  • Wherever possible, physical distancing will be maintained during the delivery of care.

  • In-person services must only proceed when the anticipated benefits of such services outweigh the risks to the client and the registrant.

  • Appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) must be used for the safe delivery of in-person services. However, all registrants must also act to conserve PPE through its judicious use.

Prioritization of Client Care Services ---- Andrea will be reflecting upon the following considerations (as referenced from CSHBC website) when determining priority for in-person care:  

  • Functional impairment or impact of the condition on health-related quality of life.

  • The impact of not receiving services, including deteriorating condition if the client is not seen;  risk of increased social isolation; and inability to communicate with external or virtual resources.

  • Appropriateness of service provision via virtual care.

  • Necessity of services that can only be provided in-person.

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Ongoing Pandemic Best Practices ----  Public health officials have indicated that COVID-19 is expected to continue to circulate in the general population for an extended period. As such, ongoing measures to control the spread of the disease are needed. They include requirements to practice physical distancing of at least 2 metres (6 feet), increased screening for signs, symptoms, and risk factors for COVID-19, and other important measures (as referenced from the CSHBC website), including:

  • Above all, clinicians must adhere to BCCDC’s Infection Prevention and Control Guidance for Community-Based Allied Health Care Providers in Clinic Settings (PDF) regarding measures applicable to the practice environment, including PPE use and environmental cleaning best practices to enable safe practice.

  • If clinicians exhibiting signs of COVID-19 or respiratory illness, including cough, runny nose, or fever, they must not provide in-person care and should not be in attendance at clinics or other practice settings where other staff and clients are present.

  • Clinicians must implement COVID-19 screening practices for clients:​

    • Screen for risk factors and symptoms of COVID-19 prior to attendance at the practice environment.

  • The College does not expect any clinician to provide treatment unless, in their professional opinion, it is safe to do so for both clients and staff.

Special Considerations for Safe Home-Based Therapy

On May 15, 2020, the PHO issued an order on workplace COVID-19 safety plans.  Please see Andrea's Speech Vancouver COVID-19 Safety Plan (PDF) for detailed information. 

Of note, providing home-based therapy does present new challenges for routine infection control and for reducing transmission risks, including: 

  • Limited ability to ensure client's homes have met necessary standards of infection control, compared to a clinician-owned clinic space. 

  • Limited ability to maintain the 2 metres of physical distancing, when working on speech, language, and behavioural intervention - as close face-to-face interaction is often required in therapy. 

  • Limited ability to wear a mask, as modelling and visual cueing techniques often require the clinician's mouth to be fully visible. 

Given these special considerations and challenges, Andrea will likely adopt a slow and gradual return to normal home-based service delivery, gauging the resumption on a case-by-case basis, and erring on the side of caution by maintaining the virtual teletherapy practice whenever able. Andrea will continue to closely monitor the local and provincial COVID-19 situation. Check out Andrea's blog post for more food for thought on this topic!