With every challenge comes opportunity
The Benevolent Society has continued to offer in-person disability services to clients where appropriate and essential during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our teams always follow the safety guidance of the Australian Department of Health during in-home visits and we have introduced telehealth services to many of our clients, including in South Australia.
Telehealth service delivery involves conducting therapy sessions with clients via video conferencing or over the phone. This has been crucial for the continuation of services for high-risk clients who chose not to meet in-person at this time, but still required therapy in order to retain their overall health and progress.
It has also given our therapists the opportunity to try something they never thought would be possible and as a result has opened up new pathways to helping clients.
“Initially it was particularly challenging needing to come up with new ways to provide a service that I’ve always done face-to-face,” said Steven Klaebe, a Senior Speech Pathologist at The Benevolent Society in South Australia. “The change certainly tested my idea of providing services, which has helped me adapt and develop my skills to become a more flexible therapist.”
Learnings from providing Telehealth services so far
Undertaking a new form of service delivery is providing us with valuable feedback from both our clients and therapists. One benefit of Telehealth services is being able to service clients with social anxiety and other forms of disability, which makes some social situations uncomfortable or overwhelming.
“Some clients have preferred interacting via technology, especially those with high social anxiety,” Speech Pathologist, Samantha Bell explains.
There has also been a financial gain to some clients and a logistical gain to therapists. "I’ve been able to provide services more consistently to my clients than when limited by hours in the clinic and travel charges, and I’ve learnt how to provide the same service in different ways." explains Steven.
“I have also seen a reduction in cancellations when my appointments are online. These reductions in costs and travel time has meant that we can provide more to clients who have limited funding. We can also access those who live in remote areas more easily, and provide them with consistent services.” said Samantha.
For some clients, Telehealth isn’t the best approach. Therapist assessment and client preference determine how the particular service needs to be delivered.
Telehealth service delivery post COVID-19
Director of South Australia, Josie Kitch said: “We have found that some clients are asking for Telehealth even though this week we have commenced access to our clinic space. We envisage that we will have a hybrid model of service delivery going forward where clients can choose in-person services, Telehealth, or a combination of both according to their needs. It is creating more choice for our clients and will certainly assist our regional clients with greater access to services.”
If you live in South Australia, and would like to know more about our Telehealth services, contact us on 1800 236 762.