Sienna’s story: achieving social goals in COVID isolation

Sienna's story: achieving social goals in COVID isolation
Posted on Wed 13 May 2020

Sienna is a fun-loving 13-year-old. Her favourite people are her brother, Jack, and pop star, Justin Bieber. Like most teenagers, Sienna loves music, dancing and is full of energy.

Sienna has been a client at CPA for three years, receiving weekly face-to-face sessions. Currently Sienna sees Christine Vasiliou for OT and Amanda Spirit Jones for Speech to help her with her goals.

Since the introduction of social distancing restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, CPA has transitioned many services, including therapy services, online via Telepractice. Sienna’s mum, Michele, and her therapists shared their experiences about how the Telepractice sessions with Sienna have been going, and how Sienna - a born performer - is continuing to achieve her social goals when she can't see her friends or therapists in-person.



Initial thoughts about having Telepractice sessions

Sienna’s mum, Michele, was concerned that Telepractice wasn’t going to offer the same benefits as in-person intervention. However, she’s glad she gave it a go and has been pleasantly surprised at how engaged Sienna’s been in the sessions.

Similarly, both therapists Sienna sees expressed their initial reservations about whether sessions via Telepractice would be as effective, but have been amazed by the high level of engagement they’ve seen from clients and their families, including Sienna and her family.


Sienna’s goals

Michele explained that in their first Telepractice session they revisited the goals set earlier to ensure they were still achievable through Telepractice. They adjusted these where necessary. For example, instead of working on a showering routine for Sienna they moved to focus on fine motor development and hand strength.

Occupational therapist, Christine explained that Sienna’s key goals were socialising, oral hygiene, cutlery skills, showering and daily routine. Christine had to think creatively about how they were going to achieve these goals in isolation. The social intervention, for example, was adapted to a Zoom party. Rather than joining groups and meeting new people, Michele engaged the mum of a friend Sienna had history with, and initiated a conversation. This was a great way of changing the intervention to suit the current situation, and also enabled Sienna to learn additional technology skills and implement her goals in a new format.

Christine believes that the change in approach empowered the family to be even more active in helping Sienna to work towards her goals in their day to day. Whereas previously Christine had brought props, equipment and activities, these were now being created at home before the session. Cooking skills were used to prepare playdough before the sessions, thereby increasing the frequency of therapy and incorporating it into the family’s daily life.

Speech pathologist, Amanda has been working with Sienna on her communication and language goals; specifically on following three to four key word instructions, and sequencing; putting pictures in order and performing daily tasks like brushing her teeth, putting her socks on and making a sandwich.


Sienna’s progress

Amanda observed how much the family’s confidence had grown in implementing the language strategies. Michele commented that Sienna has been talking more since the Telepractice sessions, which Amanda believes demonstrates the continuity of practising at home between sessions.

“I really saw Sienna in a new light. I couldn’t believe she even knew how to click a mouse!  She enjoyed the interaction online. I realised that this was probably something she has been watching people do around her for years and now she was having the opportunity to so the same,” says Michele.

“The OT and speech sessions truly exceeded my expectations. Not only did we not struggle to fill the session with things to do but we actually ended up extending it because Sienna was so engaged,” says Michele.


Would you recommend Telepractice?

Michele said that she “absolutely” would recommend Telepractice. All of Sienna’s appointments have been moved to Telepractice for the foreseeable future and Michele intends to continue to use it as a blended service once things return to normal.

“It’s so easy to use and really fits in well with a busy lifestyle and juggling family commitments. And sometimes you just don’t feel like having to tidy up the house because a therapist is coming over. This certainly solves that problem!!” says Michele.

Amanda commented that around 90% of her clients who’ve tried Telepractice have found it successful.

“The attention to the sessions and engagement has been as good, if not better in some cases, than face to face. We have a lot more flexibility, using clients’ resources at home has made families much more engaged in sessions. Generalisation outside of our sessions is soaring through the roof,” says Amanda.


Watch Sienna's story 

Chat to our team now on 1300 888 378 to see which services are available via CPA Telepractice. Check out the range of services available through CPA@home. Download our service catalogue

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CPA Telepractice gives you the flexibility to access services online, via your desktop computer, laptop, or any other mobile device.

Occupational therapists provide expert support so you can be as independent as possible in your everyday life. We love a challenge!

Our speech pathologists are experts in addressing challenges with communication, eating, drinking and swallowing.