Being a virtual OT during lock down

So…I’ve been asked to write about my experience of being an OT in the uncertain world of the Covid-19 pandemic.  Wow! Where do I start?!

Before we were even aware of the existence of the Coronavirus, I couldn’t imagine that working from home would be possible in my line of work.  As an occupational therapist I see my clients in person on a day to day basis, and I felt that my treatment sessions would not be as beneficial virtually. 

It turns out I was wrong!

Obviously, there were initially a few teething problems, i.e. dragging a table up to the spare room and setting up my work station, making sure my 6 year old didn’t walk in on me during a consultation, and trying not to eat ALL of the chocolate in the house!  But after a few days, it became normal, and we have successfully been able to maintain an uninterrupted service.

Although my colleagues and I are all working remotely, we have still been able to continue working as a close team, supporting each other through the last few months.  We’ve had regular virtual meetings to ensure we are all working in a similar way and that nothing is missed.  If anything, I think it’s brought us all closer together!

Throughout this pandemic it has been really useful to have access to advice specifically for individuals with CFS/ME including the ME Association and Action for ME.  Here are some links, which have helped me advise my clients with up to date information:

What have I learnt from being a lock down OT?

  • We are all in this together!  I feel it has brought me closer to my clients and my colleagues, and we have made it work!
  • Do we need to be seeing client’s face to face after lock down is lifted?  Of course, for a lot of individuals this is important in developing a rapport, however is it strictly necessary for everyone?  Attending appointments can be extremely energy draining, and can cause payback, so if this energy can be used in another way, that can only be positive!
  • For me, working from home has felt more productive, and I have been able to give more of my time to my patients to support them through their programme via email, video and telephone calls.
  • It has shown myself and my colleagues that the majority of our work can be achieved electronically, which is more cost effective, increases our capacity and is also better for the environment.
  • In my opinion, although the Covid-19 pandemic has obviously been an extremely difficult and traumatic time for many people, I feel that there will also be a lot of positive changes in how services such as South Coast Fatigue are run, and how we deliver our therapy.  I believe that this will enable us to give our clients an EVEN better service and support moving forward into the future!