In this story: COVID-19 / Occupational therapy /

"Some good will come of our new ways of working, but we must never lose sight of what matters most to people.”

“Six weeks before coronavirus struck I sadly lost my father.  He had been living with dementia and Parkinson’s.  My family knows first-hand how important it is to have the support of health and social care professionals to manage even the simplest things in life and how much of a difference that makes to coping with difficult circumstances.  In my professional role as an occupational therapist I have had to change the way that I engage with people living with long term neurological conditions during the coronavirus.  Some people tell me that their life has not changed greatly due to the difficulties they always experienced getting out and about and engaging in everyday tasks and things that are important to them.  Others tell me on the phone that they are “fine”.  But I can’t see their eyes, or their faces on the telephone so I need to work harder, to understand if they really are fine or if it is just easier to say that, a trick I learned with my mother as my dad’s main carer.  Just in the same way that the person can’t see my face, my eyes, or my smile on the telephone, nor behind the mask that I have to wear when I visit them.

Engaging with people in a genuine and meaningful way is a key part of what I do within my role.  I engage with lots of people throughout the day including people living with neurological conditions, colleagues, family and friends and the way that we do this changed.  I understand that some people are liking the new ways of working and using technology instead of lengthy, inconvenient and time consuming trips to the hospital, but for others that more personal touch, that reassuring stroke on the arm, that gentle smile or that sly wink that is so common in everyday practice is just not quite the same through the phone or on a video screen.  Some good will come of our new ways of working, but we must never lose sight of what matters most to people.”

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