ONLINE THERAPY POLICY
For Families

Words In Motion Speech Pathology                      Policies, Guidelines & Procedures

Policy

Here at Words in Motion Speech Pathology, we remain committed to providing a high standard of therapy services in spite of uncertain and constantly changing times. We view speech pathology as an essential service for our community and are working hard to ensure that we can continue to offer this to as many families as possible. We are incredibly grateful for the ongoing support of our families at this time and your willingness to adapt with us to meet needs in these changing times. With the current need for social distancing or possible self-isolation, we believe telehealth is an ideal way that we at WIM can continue to provide consistency and continuity of service for our families.

Online therapy, also known as Telehealth or Telepractice, is the practice of delivering therapy services using videoconferencing via the internet. It can also involve the use of other remote technologies, such as phone, use of video footage, email etc. Telehealth is already widely used by people in remote and rural areas, to enable them to access services. There is now a strong evidence base for it being at least as effective as face to face therapy. The directors at WIM and your WIM therapists are doing additional training in current best practice online therapy models, so that we can ensure we are still providing a high standard of evidence-based practice. Using online therapy at WIM will mean that clients will receive services offsite (e.g. at home) rather than coming into the clinic for sessions.

In all the research we have done to date, one of the main messages that has come across is that technology is only the ‘tool’ or vehicle for the therapy. Amongst the keys to its success is therapy that is relationship based and client-centred, which has always been at the heart of our practise here at WIM. Another key factor is the skills of the staff in being able to utilise excellent communication and problem solving skills. Again this makes us well-placed to implement this change as we are blessed with a fantastic team who pride themselves on their high level communication abilities.

We acknowledge that the introduction of this system may feel like a significant change for some, as it does for us also. We ask that you work together with us on this. To assist with change management, we are striving to keep as much of our processes and procedures the same as possible. At the same time, we are excited about the opportunities online therapy will afford us for increased collaboration and working together. We have outlined these things in our procedure below.

Procedure

Zoom is the platform we will use to deliver the online therapy. A conference call in Zoom is referred to as a meeting, which allows your therapist to connect with you via the internet.

How to access the service:

  1. Session bookings occur as per usual by contacting Reception on 92176423. For existing clients who are opting in to online therapy as their service delivery model, existing appointments (e.g. clinic / school based) will instead be scheduled as online sessions. If an alternative time / day is required this can be arranged by contacting reception.
  2. Instead of coming in to the clinic, you need to have your laptop or ipad ready prior to your scheduled appointment time.
  3. To access Zoom for the first time, follow the links to download the Zoom launcher on a desktop, or the Zoom app on an ipad or portable device. N.B.You do not need to sign up to anything in order to attend Zoom sessions that we initiate, you simply need to download the app/launcher.
  4. Words in Motion Speech Pathology will schedule a Zoom meeting and send links to you via email.
  5. We will book in a test call with you prior to your first appointment, to ensure that you are comfortable using the system and that the sound/video etc. is working well.
  6. As with a clinic session, that time is reserved for the therapist and your child. Our standard cancellation policy applies to these sessions as another child can not be seen in that session time. You can find this online via our website.
  7. If you do not sign in to your Zoom meeting at the start of your session , your therapist will call you to make sure that everything is okay. (In the event that the therapist is delivering services from home they will call you from a private number, i.e “No Caller ID”). If they are unable to get in contact with you, this will be considered as a ‘no show’ as per our appointment policy.

How the session will run:

  1. At the start of the session please tell the speech pathologist who is present. They will do the same if anyone other than the therapist is present.
  2. As is the case for clinic sessions, younger children/clients with complex needs will need you as the parent to be present for the duration of the therapy session. A number of our children will find it difficult to remain seated and in front of the screen for the whole session. More of the session will focus on coaching and parent consultation that will provide you with strategies to use in the home setting. 
  3. If your child is older and has been attending therapy on their own (with you as the parent waiting in the waiting room), this format can remain for online therapy also. However, it is recommended that you are close by in case technology troubleshooting is needed. We will also still require you to join for the final 10-15 minutes of the session for discussion and followup as per usual.
  4. Session notes will be drafted into Cliniko during our conversation at the end of the session as per usual, and then finalised and emailed to you after the session.

How payments for sessions will occur:

  1. For our private clients (and self-managed NDIS clients who pay on the day) as usual payments are required on the day of service. A credit card standing authorisation needs to be completed so that reception can process payment on completion of the session. Please contact reception in the exceptional case that an alternative arrangement is required. 
  2. In terms of Medicare, as of 20.04.2020, allied health providers are no longer required to bulk-bill COVID-19 telehealth (video conference) and telephone consultations where the service is provided to a concessional or vulnerable patient or a child under 16. We may continue our usual billing practices for Medicare. 
  3. Following the announcement from Medicare on 30.03.2020, many private health funds have followed suit in approving rebates for speech pathology services delivered via telehealth. We are awaiting further updates on this. If you are not sure about whether your health fund covers this service we recommend contacting them directly to discuss. Full payment for the session will be collected as above, then a receipt forwarded to you via email for submission to your health fund.
  4. NDIS clients have no restrictions on using their funding for online therapy. NDIS clients who are plan managed, or self-managed clients (with pre-existing payment arrangements) will be emailed an invoice on the day of the appointment. 

Confidentiality and Privacy

When all safeguards are utilised as is our procedure at WIM, Zoom is an end-to-end encrypted program, which means that no one is able to access the content of the call/meeting except those in attendance. As in our clinic sessions, any information provided in the session will be kept in strict confidence and in compliance with privacy policies. Consent will be gained prior to recording any part of the session and any recordings stored securely as per our standard procedure for video/audio recordings. Refer to our informed consent form for telehealth for more information on this.


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