How to Prepare for a Speech, Physical, and/or Occupational Virtual Visit
Virtual Care provides an alternative way to participate in the evaluation and treatment of speech, physical, and occupational therapies from your home. Virtual Care can help by reducing missed appointments due to weather conditions, transportation issues, or other illnesses in the home. It can also save time and money by reducing the need to travel.
Virtual Care is helpful in allowing you and your therapist to work within your home environment to target your individualized goals. Your therapist will give you specific instructions and suggestions about home exercises, activities, equipment and/or positioning using the space and materials you have available.
What should I expect before a virtual care session?
Before a virtual evaluation, you will receive an email with helpful information about your visit as well as your Microsoft Teams link to join the visit. You will also receive two documents: a virtual care consent form and instructions on how to download the Microsoft Teams app.
Join your session at least 5 minutes before the appointment start time to give yourself enough time to check the cameras, speakers, and Wi-Fi/cellular connection. If you are having difficulty joining the visit or experiencing technical difficulties, please call our Support Team at 651-229-1715 right away. If the technical difficulties are too disruptive to the session or are unable to be resolved in a timely manner, we may need to reschedule the session.
After you join the session, you will be directed to a virtual waiting room. You will remain on this screen until your therapist adds you into the meeting at your visit’s scheduled start time. If you have been waiting for greater than 5 minutes after your visit’s scheduled start time, please check the name and date of the link that you joined to make sure you are in the right visit. For additional assistance, please contact 651-290-8707. If you are more than 15 minutes late to join the session, we may need to reschedule the session.
What should I expect during a virtual care session?
A virtual care session follows a similar structure as an in-person therapy session. Your therapist will likely start with introductions and ask about your goals for the visit. Your therapist may be interested in seeing certain rooms/spaces in the home. Your therapist may ask you to get or have certain materials available for activities (e.g., books, balls, toys, paper, markers, scissors, etc.). If you do not have any of these, that is no problem. You and your therapist will work together to use the materials that you have.
During the session, your therapist may be completing formal assessments. If you are a caregiver/facilitator, please do not assist with assessments unless asked to. Your therapist needs to be able to see what/how the patient responds on their own. Note that there may be times when your therapist will instruct a caregiver/facilitator to help or be close by to help for safety reasons.
At the end of the session, you and your therapist will talk about next steps, such as scheduling treatment sessions to start a plan of care, or programming recommendations to continue working on goal areas at home. If you are in an ongoing plan of care, your therapist will work with you to help you plan for upcoming sessions, including how to set up the space and materials to have available.
Tips For Using Your Technology
- Visits can be joined from a phone, laptop/computer, or tablet. Make sure your device is charged before the session.
- If using a phone or tablet, have a way to stand/prop the device up so it does not need to be held by the patient or caregiver (e.g., case with a stand, pop socket, phone stand/tripod, DIY stand using home materials, etc.). It is important to have the patient’s and caregiver’s hands are free during the session to improve attention and ability to engage in activities, as well as be able to assist with physical supports.
- Practice using your camera and speakers before your visit.
- Consider the strength of your Wi-Fi or cellular connection. If your connection is running slow, it may be caused by too many people using the Wi-Fi at that time (e.g., other video calls, streaming web content). It may be helpful to stop these, if possible, until after your session to improve the connection. If you are using a phone, there may be other apps that are open that are slowing the connection. It may be helpful to close all other apps except for any needed for your visit.
Tips to Prepare Your Environment
- It can be helpful to establish a common area in the home where therapy visits primarily take place to help make it more routine for the patient.
- The type of space needed will vary depending on the visit type and goals. Your therapist may need the patient to be sitting in a chair at a table or desk. Make sure the camera clearly shows the patient’s entire face. Your therapist may need the patient to have space to move around or exercise. The therapist will need to be able to see the patient’s whole body in the camera view while they are moving around. This might mean that the camera needs to be able to be moved around during the session.
- You may have goals that require the use of a specific room in the house (e.g., kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, stairwell, etc.). Consider if your device can be moved, the camera view/set-up, lighting, etc. within these spaces.
- Pay attention to lighting. There might be too much light coming in from a window and the curtains may need to be closed. Or there might not be enough room in a space and lights may need to be turned on.
- Reduce distractions and any other loud noises in the environment (e.g., TV, sibling playing a game, etc.) as much as possible.
- If you are in a shared living environment, you may want to make sure you have a private space to attend your visit.
Tips to Prepare the Caregiver/Facilitator
- Caregivers/facilitators of the virtual care session may need to provide physical assistance. In these instances, your therapist will work with you as a coach, sharing expertise and guidance so you can best support the patient. Work with your therapist to determine your level of comfort by providing hands-on support.
- Different patients require different levels of assistance to participate in virtual care visits. Some patients are able to do most or all of the visits without additional support from a caregiver/facilitator. Other patients may need support throughout the entire session. You and your therapist will work together to determine how much support is needed to have the most successful session possible. Note that this may mean that doing other home tasks during the visit may not be possible (e.g., being able to supervise other children in the house at the same time).
Tips to Prepare your Child
- Some children may be excited about the idea of a virtual care visit, whereas it might make others very nervous. It may be helpful to explain to your child why they are attending this visit and what they can expect during this visit.
- You and your therapist will work together as a team to find the best ways to keep your child engaged during the session. Consider if there are certain songs or activities that are particularly motivating for your child that could be used as tools.
Other Things to Know
- The patient must be present for the appointment.
- You must be at a physical address (e.g., cannot be in a car) in a state where your therapist is licensed. Please cancel or reschedule appointments that are scheduled when the patient is traveling in another state or country.
- If you have additional questions or feedback regarding virtual care for speech, physical, or occupational therapies, please contact Annie Albers at 952-223-3480 or email@example.com.