The emergence of COVID-19 has rocked the nation and created challenges for people from all walks of life. Healthcare professionals, in particular, have had to alter their practices to accommodate the new age of social distancing. While many people have adapted easily to these changes, caregivers of people with special needs require additional support and compassion.
COVID-19 has created unique challenges. Healthcare professionals, in particular, have had to alter their practices to accommodate the new age of social distancing.
Here are three ways healthcare providers can continue to support special needs patients without compromising on social distancing rules.
Take Advantage of Telehealth
Many people with special needs are used to attending multiple therapy sessions each week to help them overcome developmental challenges. Speech, behavioral and occupational therapies are just a few of the interventions that patients may need. These therapy appointments quickly become part of the patient’s routine and any change in the routine could result in a regression, which is stressful for both the patient and the caregiver.
Healthcare professionals can minimize these issues by participating in telehealthcare. Not only does telehealth allow medical professionals to diagnose ailments such as respiratory infections and influenza, but it also enables patients to receive intervention therapies. Telehealth occupational therapy can help patients improve gross motor functions from the comfort of their homes. While this does require a slight change to their normal routine, many patients can accommodate this minor adjustment with minimal issues.
Telehealth also gives special needs patients the comfort of seeing familiar medical providers. The benefits of telehealth make it a worthwhile investment for any healthcare professional even after the current pandemic ends.
Encourage Patients to Establish a New Routine
People with special needs thrive on routine. Social distancing rules have most likely had a significant impact on their normal routines, but it isn’t too late to find a new schedule that works. As a healthcare provider, encourage your patients to find a new normal routine. Find aspects of life that work for both schedules to make the new routine as familiar as possible and make the transition easier.
For example, if patients are used to eating at certain times encourage them to stick to a familiar meal schedule. If they are accustomed to having speech therapy every Tuesday morning, try to schedule telehealth appointments at the same time. You can also encourage patients to prioritize exercise to boost their mental health. For kids who are used to visiting the playground every afternoon, they could take up a new outdoor activity at the same time to give the new routine some familiarity. For adults who usually work during the week, you make encourage them to work from home or find a quiet activity to perform during normal work hours to give their schedules some structure.
Establishing a new routine can be a challenge for many people with special needs, but adapting their normal schedules to give the new ones a familiar structure can make the adjustment easier. As a medical provider, you should strive to give the patients the tools and support they need to adjust during this unprecedented time.
Promote Comfortable Activities
Whether patients are physically impaired or have developmental delays, many quiet activities offer comfort. Encourage patients to partake in these activities when the disruption of their normal schedule becomes overwhelming. There are many activities that can be comforting but the important thing is for patients to find what works for them.
Some people enjoy quiet, creative activities such as coloring or painting. Others need the physical stimulation of molding something, so Play-Doh is a good option. Some people prefer to get out of the house, so taking a car ride can be extremely beneficial. Even going outside to get some fresh air can be a comforting activity for many people with special needs. When these patients have the support of their usual medical professionals, they are more likely to adapt to uncertain times and can continue to thrive.
Healthcare providers can continue to support special needs patients during COVID-19 without compromising on social distancing rules.
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