1. Decide how you will make the switch
Set up a core team that can look into the key issues you are trying to resolve. For example, this team will consider how families come to you, how will they contact you and what service you are providing. This helps you to understand the pathways that users will have to take when accessing your service. You can then create processes to ensure that each of the steps the user takes is as smooth as possible. The findings from the core team can then be relayed to the wider team.
Appoint someone from your team who has expertise in therapy or delivering your service but also can work with or on the IT systems you are implementing. This is helpful because they can understand the delivery needs and find suitable software to meet these needs.
2. Consider hardware and systems
Choose something that is compatible with your charity’s needs or something that your team is used to, especially if the change is quite reactive, like in the case of moving online due to COVID-19.
Make it futureproof and think about how the software can help your charity outside of the remote sessions you are holding. You can also enable the software to provide additional support for your users. For example, families who have teletherapy are also able to use Microsoft Teams to chat with therapists and access documents that have been uploaded.
Having a place where shared documentation is available reduces the difficulties of paperwork getting lost.
Furthermore, video calls can be recorded and families can re-watch these at any time. User accounts also mean that your charity can help should your user forget their password.
Make sure your processes and your software are secure so that no data is leaked.
3. Train your team
Be aware that not all people learn in the same way, therefore you should be flexible when training staff and volunteers.
You can start with an initial distribution of a video recording for the introduction of how to use Microsoft Teams. For some people though, 1:1 video support may be necessary. If safe, you can also train your staff in person on how to use different functions of Microsoft 365.
4. Train the families
Have introductory calls about how to get service users online. Begin with offering free sessions before the therapy appointment to make sure they are happy with the systems and are set up correctly beforehand, to reduce the chances of issues occurring within the teletherapy.
Make sure that the software is simple for service users, as you want the session to be the main focus, not technical issues. Make sure you have someone as a point of call in your team for users to contact if they do encounter technical issues, as not having back up procedures in place could lead to drop-off.
5. Hold session
As a therapist, you should be open to what a therapy session might look like. If you have in mind a typical physiotherapy session, for example, you will have to alter this dramatically to provide the service virtually.
Record video sessions so that people can watch the teletherapy back if they have missed anything.
Gather feedback throughout the user journey both from users and also from therapists.
Organise meetings with therapists to look into what is going well and where the process’ strengths lie.
7. Reflect on what you’ve done
Once you feel comfortable with your virtual systems, you can start thinking about the future and the next steps.
Consider how your service can be made into a hybrid model, where digital can be used alongside physical or in-person sessions.
For some families who may live far from your service HQ, virtual sessions may be the best option. Equally, additional staff assisting in therapy can be present over a video call, even if the session is in person.
Many thanks to Pace for contributing this recipe.
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