Life as we know it may be slowly returning to normal but there are certain things that are unlikely to be the same post COVID-19. For children and young people with a disability, seeing their therapist online rather than in-person may be the shape of things to come.
Local disability services provider Montrose Therapy & Respite Services is certain that many families living on the Sunshine Coast will choose to continue with TeleTherapy as a long-term solution for support. A survey this week showed 32% of Montrose customers said they were likely to use a combination of TeleTherapy and centre based appointments even after COVID-19.
Montrose Sunshine Coast Manager Kate McMahon said COVID-19 had forced local families and providers to give TeleTherapy a go and in many cases, she is now hearing that families want to continue even when face to face services resume.
"I think in the past TeleTherapy was considered an option for families living in remote areas but that's all changed. Families have been pleasantly surprised at the benefits of meeting online as it has become the new normal," said Kate.
Before COVID-19 Peregian Springs mum, Megan packed all three kids into the car to travel to the Montrose Service Centre at Maroochydore for therapy. She is just one Montrose customer who sees a different balance in the future. She shares her experience with TeleTherapy in an online chat with Montrose over Zoom here: https://vimeo.com/405732046
"TeleTherapy is very easy. For me, I've got three children, seven and under, one of who has additional needs. Loading up the car, loading up the children, making sure that we are fed, dressed, on-time getting to the therapy office - it's a lot! I've actually found this really simple and streamlined and hence why it is so effective," comments Megan.
But the success of TeleTherapy is about more than just convenience, it has also proven to be an effective way of progressing with therapy goals:
"We use Montrose for both Speech and Occupational Therapy... Using TeleTherapy, we've been able to see very clearly the things that Lexie can do, things that she does at home that potentially she's not been doing when we are going out to sessions," Megan continued.
Montrose feedback from customers is in line with research released by other organisations during COVID-19 including Autism Macquarie University and the Autism Research Team which also reinforce the evidence supporting TeleTherapy.
So what does this all mean for Sunshine Coast families? Kate doesn't believe that families will choose to rely totally on a remote service however she expects to see more customers choosing a blended approach in the future.
"For families like Megan and Lexie this is the ideal solution. There are certainly benefits to seeing people in-person but we now know we can successfully deliver therapy online as well. This means families can choose to mix TeleTherapy and centre-based appointments in a way that suits them," said Kate.