Carol Annett: I’m Carol Annett, president and CEO of VHA Home HealthCare. Welcome to our first At Home with the VHA video. I’m very excited today to speak with Sharon Rosenthal, an occupational therapist and paediatric clinical lead working in Toronto. Sharon was one of our first service providers using virtual care when the pandemic hit us full force. Today we’re going to speak a little bit about Sharon’s role at VHA and her experience with virtual care. So to start us off, can you tell me a little bit about your two roles at VHA?
Sharon Rosenthal: We basically see children from 0-21 [years of age], either in their home or in schools. And what we do with as pediatric therapists is we provide coaching to the parents, to the caregivers, to the teachers so that we can help the kids achieve the goals their caregivers set out for them. In addition we’re also involved in developing programs and orientation. We are promoting the use of evidence-based best practice standards and acts as a resource to the agency.
Carol: That’s a huge job and one that our paediatric OTs are so fortunate to have your expertise to support them through this. I’m curious Sharon… home care is such a unique place to practice. Why home care?
Sharon: I really find that the home is the best place to guide caregivers to effect changes for their children.
Carol: Interesting because you talk about ‘in the home’. The pandemic has created this virtual world we’re living in. I’d be interested in hearing about your experience with virtual care so far and have you had to adjust your practice because of that?
Sharon: I think that the important thing is – that virtual care is not lesser care. I think that the importance of care in general is there. And I think that we can certainly achieve a lot of what we would normally achieve in-person, virtually.
Carol: It’d be interesting to hear from you, what are they [the parents] telling you?
Sharon: I ask the parents every time I finish, towards the end of their virtual session, how they thought the session went. And I would say, pretty unanimously the parents are reporting it was a very positive experience.
Carol: Just talking about how long this pandemic has gone on… To me, one of the challenges is staying positive. I’m wondering if you have any tips for others how you keep sane and positive. Maybe something that has worked for you that we can share with others?
Sharon: In terms of the things I’m trying to do outside of virtual care – I’m trying to keep to remember to take care of myself as much as possible. To not be saying the words “well, when things get back to normal” because I think we are all aware of the fact that normal might not be the normal we had before. We might be going to a new normal. I think we just need to be as flexible as we can and try not to just hold our breath until this is over.
Carol: I wanted to thank you for chatting with me. I really appreciate it. And more genuinely for the great care that you do provide. I want to thank everyone else for watching today. Stay tuned for more At Home with VHA videos coming soon.