Strategies for occupational therapists performing functional assessments over telehealth
Performing functional assessments over telehealth as an occupational therapist requires some modifications compared to in-person assessments. Here are some strategies for conducting functional assessments via telehealth:
- Clear communication and instructions: Begin by explaining the purpose and process of the functional assessment clearly to the individual. Provide step-by-step instructions and ensure they understand how to perform the tasks or activities required for assessment.
- Video demonstration: Use video demonstration to model the tasks or activities that need to be performed. This can help the individual understand the expectations and proper techniques. Consider recording short videos and sharing them prior to the assessment to reinforce instructions and provide visual guidance.
- Real-time observation: During the telehealth session, use the video conferencing platform to observe the individual in real time as they perform the functional tasks. Ask them to position their camera in a way that allows you to view the relevant movements or activities clearly.
- Collaborative environment: Engage the individual actively throughout the assessment process. Encourage them to provide feedback, ask questions, and share their experiences or challenges. This collaborative approach helps gather comprehensive information and enhances the therapeutic alliance.
- Environmental assessment: Request a virtual tour of the individual’s living or working environment. Ask them to show you different areas and discuss any specific challenges they face in performing functional tasks in those spaces. This visual inspection can provide valuable insights into their functional abilities and limitations.
- Self-report measures and questionnaires: Supplement the functional assessment with self-report measures and questionnaires to gather additional information about the individual’s perceived level of function, satisfaction, and goals. These can be administered using electronic questionnaires or secure online survey tools, as mentioned in the previous response.
- Adaptive strategies and recommendations: Based on your observations and assessment findings, provide adaptive strategies and recommendations to improve the individual’s functional performance. Discuss modifications to the environment, assistive devices, or techniques that can enhance their independence and participation in daily activities.
- Follow-up and documentation: After the functional assessment, follow up with the individual to address any questions or concerns. Provide a summary of the assessment findings, recommendations, and any next steps in written or electronic form for their records. Ensure that appropriate documentation and record-keeping practices are maintained in accordance with professional standards.
Remember that while telehealth can be an effective alternative for functional assessments, there may be limitations in terms of physical touch, comprehensive environmental assessment, and equipment calibration. Adapt your assessment methods accordingly and consider the specific needs of each individual.
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.