A positive and a negative side to remote health care
This week we hear from Zoe who shares her personal experience of having remote health care appointments during lockdown. Zoe shares one really positive experience she has had and one disappointing appointment that left her feeling disheartened.
I have really enjoyed reading other people’s experiences of the lockdown in the Voices of COVID series and how life has changed due to COVID-19.
In my own blog I have chosen to look at the ways in which outpatient services have had to change and adapt due to the lockdown. In the recent months technology has proven to be a very useful asset for everyone in helping people to continue with their daily lives. Outpatient services in many hospital clinics are now looking at ways to conduct appointments both by telephone and online. In one respect, for many disabled people being able to speak to a doctor or consultant in a more virtual way has removed many physical barriers. For example, getting to an appointment on time, having the right support to attend an appointment and also remove the need to take time off school or work to attend an appointment. I do, however, recognise that technology will not always be the answer, as some appointments do and will require face to face contact with a clinician. From a personal point of view, during lockdown I have experienced both the positive and negative aspects to this more remote healthcare system.
Cerebral Palsy Scotland is a therapy centre based in Glasgow where the staff specialise in helping children and adults with Cerebral Palsy. The charity work to support both patients and their families. During lockdown the staff have used software called ‘Attend Anywhere’ to provide online therapy sessions. This software is also currently being used within some areas of the NHS. The availability of these online sessions has helped me to cope better with lockdown as I have been able to ask advice from a therapist on how to manage certain aspects of my condition whilst other services are more limited. The staff have also taken time to read through ever changing Government guidelines and understand and explain how they apply to people with Cerebral Palsy. This is something that I found very helpful as reading through a lot of information at once can be very overwhelming. The charity have also been providing weekly online catch up sessions to help all their service users stay connected on a more social level. I would like to say a sincere thank you to all the staff at Cerebral Palsy Scotland for providing such a vital online way of working to help people with Cerebral Palsy across Scotland stay well at such a challenging time.
On the other hand I recently had a telephone consultation with a physio based at my local rehabilitation centre who was working through my Local Health Authority. The consultation was a follow up to a hospital appointment that I had attended before lockdown. I took time to explain my current circumstances and while the physio was very understanding, in the course of the phone call, she gave me a very damning prognosis for the future of my condition and explained that the resources that she had available to her were only suitable for people with other neurological conditions but not Cerebral Palsy. I find this very hard to believe as she is a qualified neurological physio who works with people with a whole range of conditions including Cerebral Palsy. While I do understand that everyone is an individual and as such needs treatment for their own individual needs, I think at a time when healthcare services are already stretched due to the pandemic, it is important for health professionals to try and find the best solution even if that means using knowledge from other similar areas of their profession.
As you can imagine the end of the phone call left me feeling very despondent and upset about what had been said. It upsets me that even this day and age some health professionals choose to focus on the medical model of disability that is to say that they focus solely on a person’s medical condition as being the primary problem instead of stopping to reconsider that perhaps it is their own personal attitude towards the person that really needs to change. I think healthcare professionals, especially in this very unique situation that we are all facing at the moment, need to be made more aware of the effect that their comments and remarks have on someone’s physical and mental wellbeing.
Everyone in the healthcare sector is facing uncertain times and from some of the very positive steps that have been taken, it is clear that everyone wants to move forward in the best way possible. However, while it is important to find a solution to Covid-19, I sincerely hope that the needs of people with existing long-term conditions are not forgotten amidst the pandemic. Moving forward I hope that public health care services and healthcare services in the third sector can work more closely together to develop a more in-depth knowledge and understanding of specific long-term conditions and a more person centered approach to the treatment that people receive.
How have you found remote health care? What are you thinking about the changing Coivd measures? Whatever your experience of life in lockdown or getting out and about as places re-open we want to hear from you. Send an email to email@example.com or leave a message on 0131 510 5106 to find out how you can share your experience in an upcoming blog article.