Should I try Speech Pathology sessions via telehealth? What are the benefits of telehealth?

By |2020-03-31T09:16:31+11:00March 31st, 2020|Uncategorized|

We are currently faced with potentially many months ahead at home, away from school, away from our social networks, away from life as we know it. For those with communication difficulties, social skill difficulties, swallowing difficulties… this time away from our regular environments is going to be an even larger challenge.

Speech Pathology services via telehealth offers a solution!

Here at Southern Highlands Speech Pathology, we are offering Speech Pathology services for Assessment, Therapy, Education Sessions and Group therapy all through telehealth.

What is telehealth?

Telehealth is a service that we provide to clients and families who are unable to attend their usual appointment in person. Telehealth is an on-line appointment with your health care provider (in our case your Speech Pathologist) which is conducted from your own home.

Telehealth allows us to continue to provide regular therapy sessions for our clients, despite the circumstance or the distance. It allows us to be flexible in the way we work with you.

Telehealth is a growing area of practice, with many Speech Pathologists in Australia and around the world moving to operating an on-line only service.

What are the benefits of telehealth?

Similar clinical outcomes The evidence proves that telehealth can be just as effective as face to face therapy. Continuing to make improvements to your communication skills, to your child’s literacy skills, to your safety while eating and drinking – can continue while you are at home.
100% safe Telehealth is a safe option, complying with our new social distancing rules. Staying home will keep you and your family healthy, which is the most important thing right now.
Enables continuity For our regular clients, with so much change out of our control right now, keeping your sessions with your Speech Pathologist can be the one thing that stays the same for you. Seeing your Speech Pathologist’s familiar face on your computer screen once or twice a week, can be very reassuring for you and your child. This continuity is actually good for morale too, as well as being so important for your communication goals and progress.
Motivating and fun Over the past few weeks, our Speech Pathologists have noticed many extra benefits from their telehealth sessions with clients too. They have seen increased motivation for therapy with the sessions including new games and providing a real novelty for our sometimes difficult to engage school aged clients.
Can help with concentration They have noticed children being able to concentrate and attend for longer periods of time.
Parents more involved They have noticed that parents have been more involved in the sessions too – which has lead to parents understanding more about the therapy goals and being able to better help their children at home.
Helps improve computer skills One of our team members reported that she was excited that her clients were improving not just their communication skills, but improving their computer skills too, just by learning how to use the zoom program in her sessions. Improved computer skills are an added bonus!
Provides structure and routine For those of our families trying to support “home schooling” at the moment, one of our families reported loving the structure of having a designated time for Speech Pathology. This helped provide structure to their chaotic “home school” day.
Can help with “home schooling” content Our sessions can focus on reading accuracy, reading comprehension, oral language skills, spelling and writing skills, which all can help you with your home-schooling content and reduce your workload at home.
Goals can be more “meaningful” and generalisation of skills can happen faster. A huge benefit for all of our clients is that we can encourage even more “meaningful” goals by empowering families to use their own environment. Our Speech Pathologists can give you ideas to work with your toys, or board games you have at home, or ideas for mealtimes or even ideas for when you are in your backyard! This makes our therapy as “real” as possible. This also helps to generalise skills learnt in therapy sessions faster and more effectively.
Distance no longer a barrier to accessing quality Speech Pathology services Another benefit is that where you live, is no longer a barrier to being able to access quality Speech Pathology services. We currently have clients from Canberra, the Southern Tablelands, the Southern Highlands right up to South-West Sydney. Expanding our telehealth services gives us the opportunity to open up our doors to provide services to clients from even further afield. We are open for new clients, so please feel free to recommend our services to your friends and family from further afield, if a high-quality Speech Pathology service is what they are looking for.

So, how do I get set up for telehealth?

All you will need to set up for these appointments is a computer or lap top with a camera on it. If you don’t have a computer or laptop, a tablet or a smart phone can work just as well too.

These sessions are run by a program called ZOOM. Your Speech Pathologist will email you a link which allows you to open the Zoom program on your computer or device. If technology is not your thing, that is completely ok. It is really easy to get set up and your Speech Pathologist will help you every step of the way. We will also be available by phone if you have any difficulties connecting or during your session.

What is the cost for telehealth sessions?

The cost for telehealth sessions is the same as the cost of a face to face session. If you have NDIS funding, your sessions are covered by the NDIS in full. If you have private health insurance, you will need to contact your health care provider to find out if you are covered, but most health care providers are changing their policies to include telehealth for allied health services. If you are relying on medicare for rebates, Speech Pathology is not covered as yet, but medicare are adding new item numbers on a daily basis at the moment, so this may change any day. We will keep you updated on the funding front and a further blog on this topic is coming soon.

We look forward to working with you at Southern Highlands Speech Pathology. If there is anything we haven’t covered or if you still have some questions, please give us a call today (02) 48625063 or email us (admin@shsp.com.au).

We are here to support you and hope to see you soon. Stay safe.

Kate Hanrahan

Southern Highlands Speech Pathology, Hanrahan Allied Health

www.shsp.com.au