We’re in the midst of a global pandemic caused by a new coronavirus. To help reduce the spread of the virus, the government has urged us all to stay at home unless going out for a handful of permitted reasons.
To help you stay safe, Neurospace has decided to move to telehealth consultations. This post will explain what telehealth is, how it works, and how it’ll help combat COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Let’s start there.
To help reduce the spread of COVID-19, Australians are now to remain at home unless it is essential to go out for:
- Medical care
- Exercise (obeying rules on public gatherings, which are currently restricted to members of your own household or one-to-one exercise with a friend or trainer)
- Study and work (though this should be done from home wherever possible).
This is a new way of life that’s unwelcome for most of us. It’s part of social distancing, which helps stop COVID-19 spreading from person-to-person. If you do have to go out, social distancing means keeping a 1.5m distance between you and other people and having no physical contact such as hugs or handshakes with people you don’t live with.
Currently in Canberra, the COVID-19 cases we know about are people who have been overseas or people who were in direct contact with them when they returned. However, in some of our larger cities, we’re seeing evidence of community transmission, where someone is diagnosed with the disease but has had no known contact with someone else who has it.
Social distancing is the equivalent of creating a firebreak to stop a bushfire. If the trees aren’t there, the fire can’t spread; if people aren’t mingling with each other, the virus has nowhere to go and so spreads more slowly.
Is Neurospace Still Seeing Patients?
Yes, but usually not in the clinic anymore. For at least the next four weeks, we will be using telehealth for most patients (this will be explained below).
COVID-19 affects older people and people with underlying medical conditions more severely. Most of our clients are therefore considered high risk, and if they were to become ill with COVID-19 they would be very unwell.
That’s why, going forward, we’re only seeing a very small number of clients in our consulting rooms. These are people who we cannot diagnose and treat using telehealth, such as patients with acute dizziness or pain.
Do I Still Need to Come to the Clinic?
We are assessing every patient’s case and we will let you know if we think you are in the small group of patients who should still attend your appointment in person (assuming you do not have any symptoms of COVID-19 and have not been in close contact with someone who does).
You are allowed to leave home for essential medical care – indeed, it’s important to keep on top of your healthcare to avoid hospital admissions. Rest assured that we are cleaning and sanitising our premises regularly, especially our gym.
Can I Still Have a Home Visit?
We are still offering home visits. Our staff are implementing good hygiene practices whilst on home visits and we ask that you do the same. If you are unwell, please cancel your home visit. Home visits are for clients who are unable to leave their house due to mobility or transport difficulties, not for those who are in quarantine or isolation.
What Is Telehealth?
Telehealth uses telecommunications – that is telephones and computers – to bring a healthcare professional and a patient together to talk through the issues, diagnose, plan, and provide treatment.
If you’re already one of our patients, you’ll know that we emphasise accurate diagnosis since we tend to treat people whose conditions are easily mistaken for something else. We believe we can still provide accurate, timely, safe and effective care through telehealth, planning modifications to movements, postures, aggravating activities and providing self-management techniques such as exercise to mobilise and strengthen.
While telehealth has expanded rapidly to help tackle the pandemic, it is not new. Telehealth is a tried and tested means of providing healthcare and has been very useful to the rural community, for example.
What Are the Benefits of Telehealth?
Telehealth overcomes the barriers of distance to provide healthcare to people who cannot meet their provider in person.
Those barriers are sometimes geographical, which is why telehealth has a good track record in rural and remote communities. But right now, for most of us, the barrier is the need for social distancing to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
How Do I Use Telehealth with Neurospace?
We will help you through it so that you know what to expect and can troubleshoot any technical problems that may come up.
Will You Help Me Use Telehealth?
Absolutely! Right now, our therapists are working hard to set each client up for online consultations and are writing exercise programs that you can follow at home.
Our staff will call you well before your appointment to:
- Find out what technology you have which could be used for telehealth, such as a smartphone, laptop, iPad or telephone
- Help you set up the system
- Test that everything’s working and fix any problems that crop up.
If necessary, our staff will even do a home visit to help set everything up for you.
A Final Reminder
We’ll end by reminding you of the importance of good personal hygiene to slow the spread of COVID-19. We encourage you to:
- Practice coughing and sneezing hygiene – always cover your mouth and nose when sneezing.
- Wash your hands regularly, lathering with soap for 20 seconds each time (that’s longer than you think!). Always wash your hands before eating.
- Keep your hands away from your mouth, nose and eyes – that’s how most people absorb the virus into their bodies.
We look forward to seeing you for your next consultation, which will most likely be through telehealth. And we really look forward to seeing you in person once we’ve beaten COVID-19.