Since COVID-19, the world of online therapy or “telehealth” has become more mainstream, providing a way to receive therapy whilst maintaining social distancing.?
In April 2020, over three million Australians used telehealth services, highlighting the growing demand for accessible and flexible health care or disability supports.
And yet, many parents are still hesitating to explore telehealth due to concerns around quality, efficiency and complexity of the technology involved.
As the Co-Founder of a growing Australian telehealth provider, Umbo, which specialises in enabling access to health and disability services for rural and remote Australians, here are the key aspects of telehealth all parents should be aware of at this time.
- Telehealth is not new: Many organisations have been delivering services such as speech and occupational therapy in this way for years.
- Telehealth can be highly effective: Recent research in telehealth tells us that it is as effective as in person-therapy ? relationships and therapy outcomes are just as good as they are in person. As long as you have a wi-fi connection or a phone, you can access telehealth. And even if the internet connection cuts out, your therapist can give you a call to connect with you.
- One of the biggest benefits is accessibility: There are also many practical benefits to telehealth, including:
- Therapy is delivered in your own home ? your child can stay in their PJs if needed!
- No travel time to appointments, and no dragging all your kids to each appointment
- Issues can be observed in real time. So the fussiness or issues at mealtimes that you try and describe in the appointment can be experienced by your therapist in real time because they can be there on the iPad coaching and counselling you through it.
So, how do you navigate this new world of telehealth?
Firstly, find a provider with therapists who are skilled in online therapy. Do your research so that you know exactly the service they will provide. Find out if they are covered by Medicare, NDIS, or your health fund, or whether you can access a care plan from your GP.
Secondly, determine what works for you and your family. Simultaneously home-schooling, working and undertaking therapy is hard right now. Cut yourself some slack – find a therapist who will make your and your child?s life easier and ensure that you do what works well for your family right now.
About Francesca Pinzone
Francesca Pinzone is the Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of online allied health services provider, Umbo. She is passionate about bringing health services to children in rural communities and removing social inequalities. She has a MA in International Public Health from the University of Sydney, a Graduate Certificate in Social Impact from the University of NSW, and a Bachelor of Science, Nursing from the University of Technology, Sydney.
Francesca has over 12 years of experience working in non-profit organisations and in international development, having previously worked with Medecins Sans Frontieres?in Pakistan,?UNICEF?in India and?CanTeen in Australia, and also currently teaches Creating Social Change: From Innovation to Impact at UNSW Sydney with the?Centre for Social Impact.
She is also a mother of a child who has received speech therapy.