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Every May, The American Speach-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) works to raise awareness about communication disorders and barriers, as well as highlight life-altering treatment options. We realize that new communication barriers have arisen over the past few months that need addressing. We asked Be Active Be Well’s own Lisa Levine Sporer MS CCC-SLP to give us some insight. Contact us if you need speech therapy, or are interested in learning more about it.
What better time to speak about telepractice than today while we are all experiencing “shelter in place” and wondering when our lives will return to what we called “normal” prior to mid March 2020. As a home care Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) I am not currently able to provide face-to-face therapy to my clients. The reality of COVID-19 has created a new way of “doing business” for us home care SLPs. This means considering using telepractice as a way of doing treatment.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), defines telepractice as “the application of telecommunications technology to the delivery of speech language pathology and audiology professional services at a distance by linking clinician to client or clinician to clinician for assessment, intervention, and/or consultation”. It should be noted that, “ASHA adopted the term telepractice rather than the frequently used terms telemedicine or telehealth to avoid the misperception that these services are used only in health care settings.”
As an ASHA certified and California state licensed SLP, in order to use telepractice as a means to provide therapy one must be able to use telepractice therapy equivalently to, and this type of therapy must share the same quality of services provided as, an “in person” treatment session and be consistent with and adhere to ASHA’s Code of Ethics and Scope of Practice in Speech-Language Pathology specifically stated under telepractice requirements. ASHA requires that SLP telepractice sessions be held over a video conference platform that meets HIPAA compliancy. This means that the platform must have proper encryption and security measures, and be password protected for each session to protect our clients’ healthcare and personal confidentiality.
Moving from face-to-face treatment to telepractice is challenging! To begin with, not every client has access to technology such as a home computer or tablet. Even if a client has access to a technological device, not every client has the same internet service to allow for an uninterrupted treatment session. As an SLP who is accustomed to having a trunk filled with treatment materials to meet the needs of all the clients I work with, having the ability to access these familiar materials for use on a computer/telepractice platform is complicated and incredibly time consuming.
Yes, it is possible to teach an old dog new tricks. However, we live in an age where things move incredibly quickly and what was considered new becomes obsolete in the blink of an eye. It’s important to remember that the reality we are presently living in means we all need to be patient, understanding and willing to give those SLPs who need to learn “new tricks” time to become the best teletherapists they can be in the very near future.
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