How Does Speech Therapy Work During COVID-19?  

Speech therapy during COVID-19.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to alter your daily routines and how you seek out health care, you may have considered whether speech therapy is worth the risk or if you or a loved one can safely benefit from speech therapy at this time.  

Many people have delayed medical treatment and rehabilitative or habilitative programs during COVID-19. Postponing healthcare interventions can have a compounding effect. Fortunately, Open Lines Speech and Communication offers flexible speech therapy options, tailored to individual needs so it is possible to continue your treatment in a format that is both safe and specifically designed to meet your speech, language, and communication goals.

We currently offer speech therapy via telepractice, in-office visits, and home services. Within each setting, extensive precautions are taken to ensure speech therapy delivers optimal results while maintaining the highest level of safety.

Online Speech Therapy

Telepractice is the safest way to participate in speech therapy, as there is zero risk of transmission of COVID-19 while benefiting from the additional perk of not having to leave your home.

Open Lines Speech and Communication has offered online sessions for over a decade, and many clients chose this option prior to COVID-19 due to the overall convenience. Services are provided with a secure telehealth portal on your computer, laptop, or tablet in a location of your choice.

Additionally, if you or a family member are already comfortable with an online platform such as Zoom, your clinician can work with you to determine the best way to connect online. Some people may choose to participate while at home, in an office, or while traveling on vacation.

Sessions are seamless and can provide as many benefits as coming into an office. Some individuals prefer online sessions as it eliminates the need to wear personal protective equipment (PPE), such as a mask or face shield, and can also have an unobstructed view of your clinician. For more information on the benefits of speech therapy via telepractice, read our blog on online speech therapy.

In-Office Speech Therapy

Office visits are the most traditional format for speech therapy. This option involves you and/or a loved one traveling to the clinic to meet your therapist for in-person services.  In this setting, you receive the benefits of in-person services as well as increased access to supplies and therapeutic materials that are stored on-site.

These visits provide access to in-person care at a fraction of the cost of home services, which can be beneficial when attempting to increase the frequency of services within your budget. Brick-and-mortar locations are now re-opening and open lines speech and communication prioritizes comprehensive safety measures to ensure you can resume speech sessions at an office while still maximizing safety.

COVID-19 Protocols at Open Lines

At Open Lines, we enacted thorough safety and cleaning protocols to keep clients comfortable, while also going above regulatory guidelines to reduce the risk of transmission at the highest level.

Our office is still a warm, friendly environment where you can work with your clinician, but it now has increased filtration systems in each room. We also scheduled 30-minute blocks between appointments to reduce interaction with other individuals while also allowing new air to circulate.

When you enter the office, you will have immediate access to a bathroom where you can wash your hands before entering the therapeutic room. There are also hand sanitizing stations at each desk and table. Clinicians thoroughly disinfect rooms between and during appointments to reduce the risk of surface transmission. Throughout the week, we conduct more enhanced cleanings.

Our safety measures allow children to continue to play with toys or adults to use a wide variety of materials without fear of touching these items. Additionally, both you and your clinician wear PPE, such as masks and face shields, throughout the entire session. If you do not have access to a face shield, we can provide you with one. The combination of these safety protocols along with training for each clinician can help increase comfort and sense of security when coming into the office.

In-Home Speech Therapy

Speech therapy can also be conducted in your home during COVID-19. This option eliminates your need to commute and enables you to stay in an environment that is comfortable for you! Many people enjoy this format as therapeutic tasks can be personalized and easily generalized to your day-to-day activities

Moreover, it facilitates participation of family and caregivers within a session, if desired, enabling hands-on training directly from your clinician to help ensure communication is optimized for everyone on a day-to-day basis.

COVID-19 Protocols for In-Home Speech Therapy

Prior to your clinician’s arrival, you should conduct a temperature check and make sure no household members have a fever. Once it is confirmed that no household members are symptomatic, you can designate a space to work together. Ideally, it will be in a location that has proper air filtration where there are minimal distractions. For example, you can set up near an open window if the weather permits.

You can wipe down the area with disinfecting wipes or spray cleaner to ensure the area is safe for anyone working there. When your clinician arrives, they can wash their hands and setup any materials for the session that have already been disinfected.

Try to limit household members in the room to those who would like to participate in the session. Most importantly, everyone participating in the room should wear a mask. Moreover, it is strongly recommended that the client and clinician both wear face shields.

If you or a loved one cannot tolerate a face shield and/or mask, protection can still be offered by the clinician wearing a shield and enhanced mask such as an N95 combined with a surgical mask. Gloves should also be worn for any hands-on contact.

While seeing an individual in PPE may be a new experience, most children and adults quickly adjust and find it does not interfere in sessions. If at any point household members are exposed to COVID-19 within their community or someone develops symptoms, online sessions can be conducted to avoid service disruption until testing can be completed. With a negative test from client and clinician, home sessions can easily resume.

Speech Therapy at Open Lines

While we have always offered home sessions, they are becoming increasingly popular as more people opt to stay home but may want to continue in-person services.

Others find they benefit from the opportunity to switch up their routine and leave home to have a speech therapy session in a quiet, welcoming, and safe environment. With increased procedures, this is now possible more than ever.

Either way, we can provide speech therapy safely and effectively in any of these settings during COVID-19. You and your family can decide which setting is best for you based on your circumstances.

For a free consultation to discuss whether you or a loved one may benefit from speech therapy and to decide which format of speech therapy is optimal for you, please call us at 212-430-6800. We are here to help you and your family navigate through these challenging times.