The precautions against COVID-19 have come with many challenges as well as many added joys to both my personal and work lives. Looking back over the last almost four months, I realize how much I have learned and grown as a therapist while working from home.
Working from home has presented several unique challenges. The biggest thing I have missed while working from home is the personal, more intimate connection with families and children, especially hugs and cuddles with little ones. There have also been software and internet malfunctions, dogs and children inserting their opinions (my dogs and children), and trying to find the best way to position my phone or iPad when I am down on the floor trying to demonstrate an exercise. Lastly, I have been challenged to explain my ideas in words, since I am not able to reach through the screen to show caregivers my ideas for positioning or exercises. I have always been better with hands-on demonstrations, sometimes struggling with words.
While there have been challenges along this journey of working from home, I have also been blessed with forgiving and encouraging families and supportive coworkers. Three blessings I have found along the way include the opportunity to hone my coaching skills, more time with my family, and more flexibility to meet the schedules of the families I work with.
The parents and caregivers of the kids I work with are incredible in so many ways. Every single family is eager to jump in to learn new ideas or exercises to help their child. So many parents answer my tele-therapy call and they are already down on the floor with their child, ready for our session. Working from home has provided me the opportunity to focus more on coaching, better empowering the caregivers to carry out ideas in their day to day schedule. Additionally, in working from home, I have found more online resources – videos and pictures – to provide parents with information that they can use in their routines.
Personally, I have enjoyed the extra time with my family over the last 4 months. With no commute, we have more time to go on walks and play. I have grabbed my 17-month-old little boy as my model in more than a few therapy sessions. Sweet puppy snuggles and play pizza from my five-year-old help ground me when I am doing paperwork.
The last benefit I have found while working from home has been increased flexibility to meet the schedule of parents and caregivers. Usually, I have a hard time doing early morning or late afternoon visits due to pick-up or drop-off of my three children. Since I have been working from home, I am able to do visits earlier or later to meet the schedules of the families with whom I work. Since most of my coworkers have more flexibility as well, I have had the added benefit of more joint visits.
While I really miss in-home visits and doing therapy in person, I have been so blessed by my families and coworkers. I could not have effectively made this transition without the grace and cooperation of families, understanding and wisdom of teammates, and the support of management at Rainbows.
Written by Gail Laochinda, Physical Therapist, Infant/Toddler Services