Occupational Therapy

Exploring the Extension from Online Therapies to Online Communities

My virtual placement may have finished but this doesn’t mean that I am done raising awareness for online communities and online healthcare.

It is great how more and more healthcare services are going online (although many under terrible circumstances). However, we still cannot underestimate the value of online communities therefore, I want to explore how virtual OT’s utilise online communities and find out the impact online therapies are having. To do this I have merged with My Virtual OT to create a Q&A all about virtual occupational therapy and the power of online communities.

So, let’s begin NSTP’s first-ever Q&A…

Q1. How can being online remain inclusive?

“Being online opens the door for inclusivity in many ways by cutting down on typical barriers to providing care including transportation, energy conservation, and management of assistive devices. We are continually striving to collaborate with our client’s in order to better meet their needs virtually.”

Corinne and Garrett Mcless, My Virtual OT

I couldn’t agree more as discovered on placement (and from having a disability) being online can at times be a lot more accommodating and we need to strive to make this more accommodating by giving people the support they need and make it easy to access. I personally haven’t had an online appointment and therefore can’t comment but as someone who fatigues easily, I imagine it’s a lot better. But to remain inclusive it should be available to everyone no matter the disability or condition.

Q2. My target audience is the younger generation so what are older adult’s views of online services and what have been the advantages?

“Response to virtual therapy has been mixed across all generations, but is generally positive. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, older adults have been much more open to participation in virtual therapy in order to minimize their risk of exposure. Convenience and comfort are two of the biggest advantages for client’s. For many older adults (or even young and middle-aged adults working-from-home), finding or making time for therapy can be a constraint to going to an appointment. Logging onto the computer and doing a virtual session is quick, easy, and convenient.”

Corinne and Garrett Mcless, My Virtual OT

Of course, responses are going to be mixed depending on their knowledge of technology and type of intervention as not every intervention will work as face to face cannot be replaced. But COVID-19 has provided an opportunity for change, virtual OT’s are ready to deliver an online service. Virtual OT is not for everyone, but the pandemic has highlighted that when necessary it can be done successfully. That doesn’t mean it’s not uncomfortable and scary just like anything new especially if your generation wasn’t brought up with it. If people don’t like it, that’s fine it’s just about providing that option (well when things return back to normal at least).

But wouldn’t it be great if on that day where your spoons are running low your therapy session could be online?

Having virtual OT is a lot less tiring as you haven’t got the exhaustion of leaving this house which for some people takes way too many spoons out of their drawer.

Q3.  What have been the advantages of being online from a therapist perspective?

“Occupational Therapy is a profession with value to everyone! We especially love using our knowledge to provide preventative and wellness care, such as ergonomic workspace consultations. Typically in an outpatient or long-term care setting we are dealing with conditions which would have been preventable if occupational therapy interventions had been implemented before an injury occurred.”

Corinne and Garrett Mcless, My Virtual OT

Some clients who have anxiety have been more relaxed at home and have disclosed more to the therapist than they may have in a face to face intervention.

I totally agree about the ergonomic space working virtually fits in with my needs so much better.

I personally love working online as it brings my love for blogging, occupational therapy and the disabled online community altogether.

 Q4.  How have you overcome the barriers you have encountered?

“We are constantly learning. Providing occupational therapy services virtually is still relatively new, we have to accept that this will be an ongoing learning process for us and for our client’s.”

Corinne and Garrett Mcless, My Virtual OT

Again I completely agree if you would have said to me when I booked my SHOUT talk in August last year that it was to be a webinar my reaction would have been completely different as I wasn’t that confident to make one back then! I am still learning all the time I might be active online a lot more than other OT’s but I’m no social media expert! I still read social media books, in fact I’ve just updated my website and I had no idea what I was doing.

I’m always making small changes to my site and the way I work my blog and social media platforms behind the scenes as I discover something new.

Last but certainly not least it’s time to take a look at that important factor- online communities…

Q5. How has the online community enhanced your CPD?

“We have been able to connect with many others who are providing services virtually and learn from their experiences. It is exciting to be innovating in the emerging practice areas of ergonomics, wellness/prevention, and aging in place.”

Corinne and Garrett Mcless, My Virtual OT

Yes, yes, yes, the online community is such a great place to make connections! Although it’s important that we understand the value of the online community for disabled people it’s still important for all communities. I’ve connected with many OT’s nationally and internationally and taken part in online events which have really enhanced my CPD (continuing professional development). This online OT world is growing in every aspect and it’s so great to be able to see the growth of virtual OT and the OT online community and I can’t wait for what is to come.

So, there we have it my first Q&A thanks to My Virtual OT. This has been useful to get a bigger picture of virtual OT. I still want to dig deeper into online communities from an OT’s perspective- but I feel like I’ve made a start and I have learnt a lot more about virtual OT.

Let me know if you would like more Q&A’s.

Thank you for reading,

Georgia  
@georgiavine4213
@GeorgiaVineOT

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