Christina is an Occupational Therapist and the Clinic Director at Lifemark Physiotherapy Carlingwood Mall in Ottawa, Ontario.
With many more people seeking out virtual treatment because of the pandemic, demand for Virtual Care services has grown dramatically across the country. To date, hundreds of thousands of Virtual Care sessions have been completed at Lifemark.
We asked Christina Dorcas, an Occupational Therapist at Lifemark Physiotherapy Carlingwood Mall in Ottawa, to share some of her insights about Virtual Care.
Virtual Care has helped Christina gain more insight into the lives of her clients, better treat their emotional well-being, as well as assist people that live in rural areas more seamlessly,
How has the way you treat clients changed with Virtual Care?
It has enabled me to see some aspects of my clients that I would not have been able to, especially those clients who were followed in-clinic. I am able to ask clients to set-up their camera in a way that I can watch them engage in an activity such as meal prep, washing dishes, etc.
I am able to have clients work on various websites and have them share their screen so that I can observe them as they work on the assigned activity. I have also been able to have sessions where family members have been included. This would not be possible with as much ease in-person due to the limit on the number of people in the clinic at one time.
I have been able to invite employers or care providers into sessions to do teaching or hold meetings in regards to care and returning to work plans. I really do enjoy the virtual format and it will continue to be a regular part of my treatment post COVID.
How has Virtual Care helped you treat clients who require assistance for mental health issues?
Although the majority of my virtual treatment has been focused on cognitive rehabilitation and work hardening to prepare clients for their eventual return to work, time is also spent working with clients on the associated anxiety.
Many of the clients I work with virtually, just like in-person, present with anxiety and/or psychosocial challenges related to their injuries. Time during each session is spent working with the clients in regard to their emotional health. We discuss their emotions, how they are feeling, their fears and how these affect them on a daily basis in their work and home life.
Various techniques and strategies are explored in collaboration with the clients in order to work through their feelings and build resilience. Clients are taught how to self-monitor and identify what they are feeling and are taught various tools for coping that they can place in their virtual "toolbox" for when they might need them.
Sessions are used to enable the clients to practice and develop confidence in these skills. Although in-person sometimes feels better, the virtual platform is a close second as it enables me as a therapist to reach and connect with clients who may live rural and might not have access to services that are truly beneficial for them in achieving their rehabilitation goals.
What has been the reception from the patients on Virtual Care?
My clients have really embraced this with a lot of positivity. They like that they can be seen despite the number of COVID cases or weather. They like that I have also been able to offer some earlier and later sessions to better accommodate their schedules as well.
What has surprised you the most about treating patients virtually?
The positive response from clients. The fact that I am still able to see them make significant gains even though treatment is virtual. The number of no shows and last minute cancellations has gone down, which has been a great positive surprise.
How have you adapted your treatment plans to work in a virtual setting?
I have many things that I have scanned that I forward to clients or I leave for them to pick up when they have an in-person session that we then use during treatment. I have located many websites that are great tools for helping in treatment as well. It has been easier to get clients to complete their home programs and then have them sent to me to review and modify as needed, which has been a great change.
Do you have any favourite stories or anecdotes so far about Virtual Care?
I think some of the funniest situations have been when my sessions have been stolen by clients who have kids or pets that photo bomb the session repeatedly.
Read more about how we’re supporting patients with Virtual Care by visiting our Virtual Care services page. If you’re looking to schedule an appointment, you can book one online or find a Lifemark therapist near you.