Changing times are characteristic of life, yet we often seek security in the familiar. Yet over the past month, Covid-19 has brought uncertainty to the forefront. Now we need for ingenuity, adaptation, creativity and togetherness to move forward. Like many professions, there are changing times for private physiotherapy. What can we do? Here I share some thoughts.
In private physiotherapy we have faced challenges before. Arguably this is the greatest. A simple search on social media revealed that some therapists have switched to online consultations whilst others feel that this does not work for them and their patients. A further challenge is to manage the family and the children. Understandably, this will be overwhelming for many.
There are two main considerations: personal health and the finances. Building and practicing wellness is always important, but particularly at the moment. I am sure that we are all taking the necessary precautions as well as self-care. However, it is easy to push these into the background when other things are on our mind: the kids, family, relatives, rent, the business, employment etc.
So, what are some concrete actions that can be taken?
1. Make a plan
What can I offer my patients? This is a good start point. How can I adapt my practice so that I can deliver best care to these people who are important to me?
Think about the sessions that you provide. What do you spend most of your time doing? Of these, what can be delivered via an online session?
For some people, online sessions are familiar. Others maybe daunted by the prospect. I have been using online for some years, and like anything we practice, we become more skilled. When I was designing Pain Coaching some 10 years ago, reach was really important to me. As Skype and the like became more available, so I could coach people across the UK and the globe as effectively as in person.
Something that may help therapists who are worried about going online is to remember that there are many people who need us. They need to hear our voices (calming — how do you use your voice?), feel our support and encouragement as well as our advice and suggestions. In one sense then, we need to get out of our own way and serve our purpose: improve lives.
2. Reach out to patients
Connecting and re-connecting is a positive feature of what is happening at the moment. You can choose to contact existing and past patients to check on their wellbeing and offer support. There is always the option of suggesting an informal chat to catch up. You may then give them a few practical tips.
How can I continue to contribute to others’ lives? This includes patients, loved ones, neighbours and others who need our help and companionship. Sharing and contributing are both distinctly healthy acts. Everyone benefits.
3. Time to learn
If you find that you now have time on your hands, this could be an opportunity to revise or explore new areas. The role of a physiotherapist has and continues to evolve. This is undoubtedly a difficult time for many, but we will emerge. What will you do then? Here are a few exercises that you can try:
The way that I dealt with the Covid-19 period was ……….
During the Covid-19 period, I learned ……….
I contributed during the Covid-19 period by ………..
The challenges I faced were ………… and I used ……………….. (strengths) to face and overcome these challenges.
4. Create a daily routine
I wrote a blog on working from home for people who now find themselves in that situation. Now many physios are working from home as well, juggling work, family and more. Creating a routine is a useful way to plan each day. Written down is even better; you can tick off as you go.
Trying to keep the routine similar to your normal day gives a sense of familiarity. If you walked to and from work for instance, try and get out for the same time in the morning and the afternoon. Periodising your day means you can fill the chunks of time with work, projects, family time, exercise, rest breaks, lunch, activities that bring joy etc. Colour coding makes it easy to read.
I spend a great deal of time helping patients self-care. Firstly recognising the importance, and secondly ways to do it in their world.
As clinicians and therapists we are no different. We care about the people we work with, and this begins with how we care for ourselves. I can say with confidence that many of the practices I suggest to patients, I have used or do use myself. Most are very simple but the habit must be formed. Part of our work is to help people form new habits.
Here are some exercise that may help you.
I self-care by ……………… (list)
My ideal self-care plan is ………………. (list)
Self-care strategies that have worked for me are ……………… (list)
These strategies have helped me ……………….. (list)
My new self-care plan is ………………………… (list) . I will start this ………………………. (day, time)
I hope that this gives you some useful food for thought. Taking the time to consider your position and where you could go, your picture of success, starts the process of making a plan to move on. Then you can put the steps into place and decide each day how you will go about following the plan.
If you would like an informal chat about your challenges, do get in touch (email below). I am happy to share some thoughts.