As ieso's Chief Clinical Officer and chair of the BABCP IT Special Interest Group, Sarah Bateup provides advice and guidance to clinicians on how to adapt working practices and deliver therapy effectively online during the current the Coronavirus outbreak. In this regular blog series, Sarah will cover many topics including:
• The best preparation for seeing patients using digital therapy methods during COVID-19
• Housekeeping and consent when moving to digital therapy methods
• How to deal with patient contact in-between therapy delivery
• The common phenomena when moving to non-face to face therapy delivery
• …and much more.
As we navigate through the coming weeks and months and adjust to this changing world, we will continue to provide guidance on digital therapy methods, and what to think about and look out for during this challenging time.
Part Two: Housekeeping when moving to digital therapy methods
Housekeeping is vital when using digital methods for therapy delivery, whether that's by telephone via video or through text-based platforms. Housekeeping is probably an area that most clinicians feel really confident about, as we're all used to discussing confidentiality and attendance policies with our patients all of the time. During COVID-19 it's imperative that we continue to do so. However, there may be some additional things that you need to think about adding to your housekeeping, as you start to work with more patients using digital formats.
One important aspect of housekeeping is regarding confidentiality. Always reassure your patient that however you're delivering therapy, that you are taking absolute care that nobody else is privy to that communication, and that nobody else can hear or see you. It is also important to seek consent if you're using an alternative method of therapy, particularly video, where the patient is agreeing to use Teams or Skype (or whatever digital method you choose), particularly in relation to preparing work together.
All of us have a responsibility during this current period, where we can't deliver therapy in a private room face to face, to help our patients create a safe space. We need to ensure that nobody is listening to their conversation, and they won't be disturbed. Unless you're working on a phone, encourage them to turn off their phone, television, and radio, and log out of social media to create the right environment online. A patient needs peace and quiet to focus on the work that you are doing together. This is particularly important as we work more flexibly, and offer sessions into the evenings, early mornings and at weekends.
Attendance and DNA policies are something that you're going to be working with your service leads on. However, we'd encourage you to think about your DNA policy being more flexible at the moment, as people may struggle with internet connections, phone connections, illness or caring for others.
We also encourage you to talk about how you and your patient will communicate in between sessions. For example, if there is a need to cancel or amend sessions, or if a patient is at risk or concerned with COVID-19 infection, how they will communicate with you outside appointments. In between session communication amplifies the effect of CBT, and something we believe is important to support and help recovery in your patient.
We will cover patient contact in-between therapy in part three of this blog series, but please take the time to read our other series blogs by clicking the links below: