Zachary Boychuck (OT, PhD), a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Person-Centred Health Informatics Research Lab (Supervisor: Dr. Sara Ahmed), was awarded the “Postdoctoral Fellowship on Telehealth in Rehabilitation Services in the Wake of the COVID-19 Crisis” by the CIUSSS West-Central & the Réseau de recherché en santé des populations du Québec. This award provides support for one year (June 2020 – May 2021) in the amount of $45,000 CAD combined with $10,000.00 CAD start-up funds. Dr. Boychuck’s integrated knowledge translation study, “A paradigm shift toward telerehabilitation: Adapting rehabilitation services across an integrated health and social services university network in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis”, will create evidence-based resources (educational knowledge translation tools) to train and support rehabilitation professionals (e.g., occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech-language pathologists) in the delivery of care as they adapt their practices to be delivered using telehealth across the 30 complementary pediatric and adult healthcare facilities of the CIUSSS West-Central.
The COVID-19 crisis has forced the healthcare system to undergo in just a few weeks a paradigm shift that would have otherwise taken months or even years: the use of telehealth technology in the delivery of care. The recent and ongoing experiences with COVID 19 reflects the necessity to have the infrastructure and training capacity to establish telehealth to deliver the support needed to patients, especially to the most vulnerable members of our population, most at risk of deteriorations and social isolation.
Thus far, clinical teams have mostly embraced the move to telehealth, and are rethinking the way they deliver care, needing to find creative ways to meet the same objectives of their professional roles. Clinicians for the most part, have not received adequate training and might not have had the chance to acquire a sense of self-efficacy that would allow them to intervene using best practices, and do so with confidence. Telehealth best practices are evolving over time as the demands increase and as clinicians recognise unanswered needs in relation to how they can maintain effective care, over a new medium. As organisations recognise the added value of telehealth, it is likely that a lot will remain, and clients will continue to have the option to receive care remotely, when appropriate.
To garner the experiences and insights gained during this current shift to telehealth for all clients (all impairments and ages), the Academics affairs directorate, the Layton-Lethbridge-Mackay Rehabilitation Center (LLMRC of the the CIUSSS West-Central and the Réseau de recherché en santé des populations du Québec are offering a postdoctoral fellowship. The goal is to create evidence-based resources to train and support health professionals in the delivery of care as they adapt their practices to be delivered using telehealth, keeping in mind the specificity of rehabilitation at the CIUSSS West-Central, i.e. all deficiencies are treated.