3 months in - adapting to a new world

Through challenging circumstances, this year has opened up new ways for “attending” a physiotherapy appointment.

Online appointments

In March/April time, due to the lockdown I had to quickly figure out the technology to enable me to change from traditional face-to-face appointments to online appointments if I still wanted to work. It actually wasn’t that difficult as long as the connections were playing ball!

I found that I really like online consultations and have had great feedback from clients. It’s nice to be able to see the person that I’m talking to and I can also watch them doing movements relating to their particular issue, which really helps me advise them on how to manage it.

It’s interesting how it can take a crisis to force us to think differently. I still offer these, and will continue to do so even once we get back to some kind of normality.

Videos and dogs

Working from home posed some challenges like I am sure many people found out in 2020, like the dog barking, the doorbell ringing and teenagers rampaging around (I found morning appointments were better as they tended not to be up!)

I often record videos to send to my clients with exercises that I have recorded. I prefer this approach rather than the various exercise software packages available to physios, as it allows me to tailor the exercises to the exact needs of the individual. One unexpected result of this approach is that my dog, Lola, manages to make an appearance in most of my exercise videos. It might not be as “polished” as a slick pro YouTube video but it’s definitely got a “real life” feel to it. Also, the teenagers finally made themselves useful as videographers!

Just when I thought I was out…

I left the NHS at the end of March but due to the growing COVID situation I was asked to go back in May for 3 months, doing 2 sessions a week of telephone “first contact” physiotherapy. For some musculoskeletal injuries this is sufficient. You can give the right advice so that people can self-manage their issues. For other things I found this a real challenge.

People are complex and have lots of things going on in their lives which can contribute to their presenting complaint, especially so in this time while we live through a pandemic. Trying to draw this out in a 15-minute phone call is really difficult. I missed being able to see the person that I was speaking to; nonverbal communication is by far the greatest percentage of communication, especially through body language.

Needless to say this is my least favourite appointment type; although I am always happy to chat to people about an issue they are having, especially if I don’t have a queue of people to phone and only a short time per person!

Welcome back!

I returned to face-to-face appointments in August, wearing the now necessary full PPE and working from a repurposed room in my house. Thanks to my husband Jamie for sacrificing his music room.

What a difference! Being able to spend the time, (now I am fully self employed I can decide how long I need) but also the hands-on experience to feel how a joint moves and how a muscle responds to resistance just gives me so much more information.

My clients seem to take a lot of reassurance from being physically examined compared to a faceless phone call. This has reinforced what I already felt through living for 6 months with very limited contact with friends and family – touch is really important to human beings.

I hope I can continue to work as I am and we are not locked down again….here’s hoping.

Caroline 18/11/2020

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