Virtual Speech Therapy

We are living in a new time where many parts of our days are filled with virtual communication. Whether that is with teaches, co-workers, doctors or family. So in order to stay connected during a time of quarantine is key to keeping our mental health in check.

When people are requested to stay in place their ability to process and communicate can decline. One thing that can help with this, and is often forgotten about is speech therapy.

Speech therapists can support people of all ages and right now can help people virtually. Speech Language Pathologists offer help in the following areas:

  • Cognitive aspects of communication (e.g., attention, memory, problem solving, executive functions)
  • Speech impairments
  • Language expression and processing
  • Swallowing problems
  • Voice impairments (dysphonia), poor vocal volume (hypophonia)
  • Sensory awareness related to communication and swallowing

Speech therapy does not only help with how someone speaks but also what is happening cognitively. Keep that in mind with your loved ones. They may have no sign of a voice impairment but could seem confused, have memory loss or a hard time communicating their thoughts. A speech therapist could make a difference in their life and enhance their relationships with others.

Call Covell Care & Rehabilitation, LLC today to learn more about our speech therapy services. We offer telehealth and in-person treatments. (970) 204-4331

Managing the Psychological Effects of Quarantine

It is one thing to make a choice to seclude yourself and another for it to me mandatory that you stay in, away from others. This can have a profound impact on people in various ways, and if not managed can lead a long-term issue.

According to Psychology Today, some of the physiological effects of quarantine are:

  • Aches and pains
  • Amplified risk perception
  • Anger
  • Boredom
  • Cardiovascular stress
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Compromised immune functioning
  • Confusion
  • Contagiousness anxiety
  • Counter-phobic reactions
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Emotional exhaustion 
  • Fear and apprehension
  • Financial worries
  • Frustration
  • Helplessness
  • Hoarding
  • Hopelessness
  • Impaired executive functioning
  • Sleep issues
  • Irritability
  • Numbness
  • Overuse of drugs or alcohol
  • Physical exhaustion
  • Post-traumatic stress symptoms
  • Sadness and despair
  • Somatic experiences
  • Stigma concerns

WOW!! That is quite the list and seems like almost every aspect of a person’s life can be affected. That is why it is important to keep good strategies and routines in place to prevent the above from happening.

Here are some good strategies from Psychology Today, to use during this difficult time because we are still unclear of when this will all come to an end.

  1. Plan ahead to have all of the supplies you need (my suggestion at least 2-4 weeks worth). Supplies include food, water, medications, essential products as well as hobby items. If you read, gather enough books. If you are into wood working, gather the supplies for a project or two.
  2. Limit television and social media. It is good to stay connected to what is going on but it is another thing to let is consume your day and thoughts. Give yourself a time limit for this and stick to it. Then spend your day on house projects, exercising, connecting with friends (virtually) or engaging in your hobbies.
  3. It is good to have a routine in your day to keep you feeling somewhat normal but remember that the same can make you bored. Do something different each day or be spontaneous. Not a baker? Well, start each week by picking a recipe and make something new.
  4. Change your thinking and stay positive. Use words that will encourage you, not get you down. It is easy to go down the rabbit hole of negativity but don’t do it. Find the good in quarantine and focus on that!
  5. Stick to your above plan and have backups if you they are not working. Many professionals are working during this time to help with the above psychological effects. Contact your mental health resource for support or call Covell Care (970) 204-4331 to schedule an appointment with a counselor. We accept insurance and have connections to many community resources.

Hang in there and stay positive! There is a light at the end of this tunnel, and we are in it together.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/two-takes-depression/202004/how-manage-depression-during-quarantine

Connecting to Other Disciplines

Blog provided by Krista Covell-Pierson, Owner of Covell Care & Rehabilitation, LLC.

If you start a private practice, or a business in general, it’s time to start thinking about your community. You will develop marketing plans and networking opportunities but I recommend you also become an expert knowing who does what in your community. You need to make referrals with confidence for your clients and developing strong community relationships is key to client, and business, success. I meet too many healthcare workers that do not make enough referrals for their clients and have little awareness of additional services and experts in their area that could improve their clients’ lives. This seems like a big injustice to those we serve. All of us need to get our boots on the ground to meet fellow community members. People worry more about people stealing their referrals than they do about collaboration and service. 

A great way to develop relationships is remembering that you are still a student. This will never end, even if you hit the 30 year mark as a therapist. Start asking questions and get curious. Pick up local publications and visit places your clients visit. It is easy to focus on what you need for your professional licenses and meeting your annual CEU requirements. Remember that this is just the bare minimum recommended for people to maintain competence in their skill set. As business owners and leaders, we should look to grow our minds beyond the bare minimum, shouldn’t we? I encourage you to reach past your own discipline and learn about topics regardless of the CEU benefits. Dive into the big world of learning. You won’t regret it. 

Here are two examples of how I embrace learning outside of my world of OT in the home. 

  1. I primarily work with older adults and knowing that so many people fear aging I decided to go to an anti-aging seminar in Las Vegas. I was blown away. So many things on the market that I had never heard of, doctors helping clients stay young in every way and a line that looked a mile long for people to get a “free” treatment for hair loss. Things I learned at that conference did not directly impact my day-to-day therapy provisions. But, they expanded my awareness about the aging process and I gained an increased empathy for the overall experience of growing older. I am better for it. 
  2. I sign up for various companies’ emails and watch for educational opportunities. For example, our payroll company does 20 minute tutorials online about an array of topics from how to organize your HR files and what to do at the end of the year with your payroll reports. I try to hop on their webinars as often as I can. I usually sign off with a new little golden nugget of knowledge that helps me run my business with more confidence. It also helps me get to know who works in our payroll’s office and when they pick up the phone I can initiate a conversation with them about the great job they did and what I learned. 

More than likely you live in (or near) an area that is full of ways to plug in educationally. If you look at community center calendars, your local Small Business Development Center or subscribe to a listserv for your city’s events you will likely see plenty that peaks your interest! Often times events are low cost or even free. The point is to get out there and connect. 

On top of getting out in the community, I encourage business owners or managers to consider starting their own education focused group to bring the community to them. I know as a practitioner how hard it is to stay on top of a caseload of clients as well as stay up on all the services in the community. Transitioning from a setting where I saw other practitioners everyday at the SNF to a lonely road warrior doing home visits, I knew my exposure to others’ talents was few and far between. I wanted to continue learning from people in my community so I started bringing folks in to present to my team of contractors and staff. We only brought people in for education and didn’t look at it as an opportunity for people to come in just to plug their business. We wanted to grow as practitioners and as people that could provide quality resources to our clients. 

As time went on, I decided we could serve our community in a bigger way by opening the group up to anyone wanting to learn and expand their awareness of services available in our own backyards. So, four years ago, “Clinicians and Comrades” was born. We meet every month for one hour. Our speakers volunteer their time and we request that none of them use it as a platform for direct referral recruitment. This is simply a place to geek out on what they’re really good at like low vision strategies, diabetes management, making homes accessible, hospice care, mental health assessments and other important topics. 

If you want to start your own group here are some suggestions: 

  1. Find a location that will allow you to use their space on a regular basis free of charge. Senior housing facilities like the foot traffic and exposure and may be happy to host your group. Or, churches and rec centers may offer space for free. 
  2. Set a routine time and stick to it. 
  3. Start an email list of people to invite. Build on the list every month by using a sign-in sheet for attendees. Send a reminder a day or two before the meeting. 
  4. Name your group. 
  5. Ask people to present in advance. We typically have our entire calendar for the year built out before the end of February. 
  6. Send thank you notes to presenters. They are giving their time away for free so definitely show your gratitude. 
  7. Request speakers stick to the clinical information and don’t launch into a sales pitch. 
  8. End on time. 
  9. Take pictures with permission and share!   
  10. Send certifications of attendance to your audience members.

The sky’s the limit with all you can learn and apply to your practice. Do your best to stay fresh and up to date on industry and community trends and changes. Our clients and patients need us to stay committed to being the most well-rounded and capable clinicians we can be. Plus, staying connected and energized helps prevent burn-out and compassion fatigue. 

If you started a community group of any kind, I would love to hear about it! Send me an email about it to krista@covellcare.com.

Incorporating Mental Recommendations in Your Professional Practice

Blog written by Madeline Gardner, Occupational Therapist, specializing in mental health.

Mental health affects all clients, and regardless of your discipline, it can impact the therapeutic process. Mental health is not simply a lack of mental illness, so it’s important to consider if your clients are mentally flourishing.

Truly listen to your clients. You may be able to provide recommendations that are within your scope of practice, or a referral may be necessary.

  • What are they saying that may be indicative of their mental well-being?
  • Do they speak of feeling lonely or isolated?
  • Lacking motivation?
  • Anxious about managing their health condition?
  • Are they having difficulty adjusting to life with a disability?

Some examples to address mental wellness include:

  1. Incorporating stress management or relaxation techniques
  2. Mindfulness practice
  3. Gratitude journaling
  4. Learning healthy coping mechanisms
  5. Or just providing a listening ear

If mental health seems to be a significant barrier or if you suspect an undiagnosed mental illness, a referral to a mental health professional (counselor/LCSW) or PCP is necessary. Also consider a referral to occupational therapy, as OTs can be a great resource to address daily routines, health promotion strategies, and activity modification to improve participation and enhance quality of life. 

*If you have concerns about the safety of your client, get help immediately. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number: 1-800-273-8255

Find helpful resources at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/help-someone-else/ about how and when to help others who may be going through a crisis.

5 Tips for Finding the Right Mental Health Therapist for Seniors

Thank you to guest blogger, Holly Clark, Freelance Health Writer.

Mental health is essential. No matter what age you may be, staying mentally healthy is extremely important, not just for your mood or happiness, but for the health of your body as well. Poor mental health may cause poor overall health, which is never a good thing. It’s not shameful to need help sometimes, and seeing a therapist is the best way to get the help you need. However, seeing a therapist as a senior may seem a bit daunting. This is especially true when it comes to finding one. Fret not, because it is possible to find the right therapist for you. Some tips to find the right therapist as a senior are:

Ask Your Doctor

If you’re comfortable asking your doctor, they’re the best place to begin. Your doctor may be able to refer you to a therapist that matches you. Many people will ask their doctors for a referral, so it’s not something that they’re unfamiliar with. Explain to your doctor some of your issues, and then ask if they have any recommendations, you just may be surprised at how helpful asking your doctor may be.

Use Internet Resources

The internet is a powerful tool, and it comes with a lot of sources for help. Do a few internet searches for therapists in your area, there are many online resources that list therapists and their locations, as well as specialties. Doing some shopping around also allows you to look at all of your options before choosing which therapist you’d like to try first. Remember, you may not like the first or even the second therapist you see. It’s okay to end the relationship and move on to another choice. Sometimes you’ll need to try a few different therapists before finding the one you feel most comfortable with.

Look For Your Insurance

It’s important to remember to look for a therapist that accepts your insurance. To do this, you can look through directories online, or even call your insurance company for a list of therapists in your area. Some will even let you filter your results by age and gender, allowing you to specify what sort of person you’d feel more comfortable seeing. If you have Medicare, this insurance does cover therapy, as well as many other insurance companies do.

Ask Around

It’s not shameful or even odd to ask your friends and family if they have any recommendations. You may be surprised at how many people you know that have a therapist. Asking those you trust and like most allows you to get recommendations that match your personality better, it may also ease some tension and fear when trying to choose someone who works best for you.

Consider Teletherapy

If you can’t drive, or you don’t have dependable transportation, it may be worthwhile to consider a form of teletherapy until you could figure something else out. Services such as TalkSpace cost, but they may ease one into the process of therapy, and they also provide an option for those who are unable to travel to a local therapist’s office. However, you may be able to have your insurance company transport you to your appointments at no extra cost, so it is definitely worth calling and inquiring about those services.

Jane Byrne, project coordinator at a nursing home in Kildare, notes that, “Seeing a therapist may seem scary, especially as a senior citizen, however, it’s not as terrible as you’d believe. Many people see a therapist and are much better off for it. Remember that it’s okay to need to talk about your problems, and doing so is a great way to become happier and healthier.”