What is telehealth?

Telehealth uses videoconferencing platforms to deliver therapy remotely. Therapy Matters has been using telehealth for a number of years and during the COVID-19 pandemic we provided telehealth services to all our clients during lockdown restrictions to keep our community safe.

Many parents have enjoyed the convenience, flexibility and therapist-parent connection available through telehealth services. While we love seeing our families in person, the use of telehealth allows us to extend our services to reach families who may otherwise be unable to access therapy to get the support they need either short or long term. Our telehealth services can be used for assessment, therapy sessions, parent education and coaching, teacher education and support, monitoring of home programs and meetings. Some families find telehealth a great short-term solution when needed and other families seek this solution as their long-term therapy mode as it matches with the child’s personal preferences and also their family needs.

Why telehealth?

Telehealth allows you to continue therapy and improve your child’s abilities when you need to stay distant from others to prevent the spread of illness or when we are in the middle of a pandemic. Some families find that telehealth fits better into their busy lifestyle where there is no need for travel time to the clinic and other siblings can be better catered for.

Practicing activities with your child’s own toys in their own home makes it easier for the activities to be done again and again. It leads more seamlessly to natural opportunities for improvement. In face to face sessions, the therapist is usually the one ‘doing’ the therapy. In a telehealth session, the therapist can become your coach – they will watch what is happening, problem solve together with you, and provide you direct feedback about how you are helping your child. They help you to help your child.

If delivered well, the outcomes of telehealth sessions can be comparable to that of in-clinic sessions. With sessions occurring in your own environment, with your own equipment and toys, and the therapist is coaching you and your child to improve your child’s performance, telehealth is often a strong viable alternative to face to face services. The carry over potential of the therapy session is greater.

Some children are really captivated by screens and find it easier to interact with adults through this medium. They find telehealth easier to navigate and less stressful. Telehealth also provides an opportunity for others to join the appointment to see how to help. Relatives and members of your child’s team can join. This helps keep everyone connected and collaborating together.

What does a telehealth session look like?

We use Zoom. It is very easy to use, reliable and has functions such as the whiteboard and share screen option that are ideal for telehealth practice. However, if you would like to use another platform, we are very happy to explore its use too.

We run a telehealth sessions in so many different ways, tailored to your child and family. Your therapist may contact you before the first session to map out ideas for how your child’s goals can be met. For younger children, a parent will need to be present to help facilitate the session. The session may combine coaching strategies on how you can support your child together with the therapist interacting directly with your child on the screen, channeling their inner “Play School” presenter! For older children, we can use interactive shared whiteboard tasks, online games, educational videos and engaging worksheets to achieve goals.

Some parents may worry about the confidentiality of Zoom. As with any of our services, we must comply with the Privacy Act 1988 obligations related to the collection, use and disclosure of personal information. Your child’s therapist will maintain confidentiality and privacy standards during your child’s telehealth session, as they would any other session.

Zoom is an end-to-end encrypted program, which means that the data shared between each end of the video connection is encrypted to prevent other people from accessing the content. At times, recording of sessions will be suggested to remind you of what was covered in the session or to share strategies with members of your child’s team. Any recording will only be done with your permission and will be stored securely and confidentially.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if I need to cancel?

Our cancellation policy applies to all services that Therapy Matters provides, including telehealth services. If you need to cancel, please call with as much notice as possible so that we can fill that spot with another child or reallocate that time to supporting your child through home program creation or report writing for assistive technology or in readiness for reviews.

If you do not connect to your scheduled Zoom meeting, your therapist will call you to try and connect you to the meeting and make sure everything is ok. If they are unable to contact you, an invoice will be created for non-attendance. If you do not connect to two consecutive telehealth sessions, any sessions will be suspended until we hear from you.

What happens if something goes wrong with the technology?

Signal drop-outs, operator error, inexperience and other technological glitches may at times impact these session. If this happens, we will call you and continue parent coaching and collaboration activities for the remainder of the session.

We can also come up with alternate platforms to use temporarily so the session can proceed as per usual, such as FaceTime. We are happy to problem solve what to do for the next session, to ensure that the technology can be reliably used.

Is telehealth covered by my funding?

All NDIS clients will be able to use their funding to access telehealth sessions, and telehealth is recognized as an appropriate service delivery model for people with a disability to work towards their goals.

Medicare rebates can be used for telehealth sessions. Some private health services may provide rebates for online therapy sessions, although you may need to double check that you are covered.

How do I pay for my telehealth session?

You will be able to pay for your telehealth session either by payment of an invoice, or by calling our client services team and paying over the phone.

If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss these with our client services or with your child’s therapist.