Strategies for occupational therapists performing cognitive assessments over telehealth
Performing environmental assessments over telehealth as an occupational therapist requires some adaptations compared to in-person assessments. While you may not have direct physical access to the individual’s environment, there are still strategies you can employ. Here are some ways to perform environmental assessments over telehealth:
- Pre-assessment information gathering: Prior to the telehealth session, request the individual to provide photographs, videos, or a virtual tour of their environment. Ask them to highlight specific areas or challenges they want to address during the assessment. This pre-assessment information gathering can provide valuable insights into their living or working space.
- Collaborative exploration: During the telehealth session, ask the individual to use their camera to navigate and explore their environment collaboratively. Instruct them to show different areas, furniture, equipment, or objects relevant to their occupational performance. Guide them to zoom in on specific details or areas of concern.
- Environmental checklist or questionnaire: Utilize an environmental checklist or questionnaire that the individual can complete and share with you electronically. This can include questions about the layout, organisation, safety, accessibility, and usability of their environment. Analyse their responses to identify potential areas of improvement or modification.
- Guided self-assessment: Provide guidance to the individual on how to assess their environment independently during the telehealth session. Offer instructions or checklists that they can follow to evaluate aspects such as lighting, noise, ergonomics, or safety. Encourage them to make observations and note any challenges they encounter.
- Problem-solving and brainstorming: Engage in problem-solving and brainstorming activities with the individual to address environmental challenges. Explore possible solutions, modifications, or adaptations that can improve their occupational performance and participation. Encourage them to share their ideas and collaborate on finding practical and feasible solutions.
- Information sharing and resources: Share educational materials, resources, or links to websites or videos that provide information on environmental modifications or assistive devices. Empower the individual to access and utilise these resources to address their specific environmental needs.
- Collaboration with caregivers or family members: If appropriate and with the individual’s consent, involve caregivers or family members during the telehealth session. They can provide additional insights into the environment, contribute to problem-solving, or assist in implementing environmental modifications.
- Follow-up and documentation: After the environmental assessment, provide a summary of the findings, recommendations, and any next steps in written or electronic form. Document the suggestions for environmental modifications, strategies, or resources discussed during the telehealth session. Ensure appropriate documentation and record-keeping practices are maintained.
While environmental assessments conducted over telehealth may have limitations compared to in-person assessments, it is possible to gather valuable information and provide recommendations for optimising the individual’s environment. Collaborative engagement, pre-assessment information gathering, and utilising checklists or questionnaires can enhance the effectiveness of the telehealth environmental assessment process.
Leanne Hopkins is an Occupational Therapist at Succeed Healthcare Solutions and is passionate about creating a world where families thrive. If you are a health or education professional seeking an evidence-based multi-disciplinary clinic for your patients/clients that strategically avoids waitlists, please contact us and arrange a free 15-minute Discovery Interview to see how we can assist.