A MESSAGE FROM THE PRINCIPAL CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST:
I wanted to take some time to reach out to all of our clients and the community in general. It is a difficult time for everyone at the moment and there have been many changes in Australia, as well as across the world, in a short period. The arrival of COVID-19 on our shores has presented many challenges for individuals and businesses alike. I wanted to assure everyone of the measures we, at Oracle Psychology, are taking to ensure the upmost safety of our clients and staff.
Due to the current confusion and anxiety in the community at large, I am also hoping to provide some education and resources to people in order to provide some additional support. In this announcement I will discuss health and mental health resources, hygiene and safety, social distancing policy, the importance of our clinicians providing ongoing support to clients as well as families, and child psychology telehealth options at Oracle Psychology.
HEALTH & MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES:
There have been instances of misinformation online and in social media regarding the current pandemic which have caused people undue distress. As such, I would like to encourage everyone to choose their sources of information carefully when informing themselves, their friends and their family. Even some of the mainstream media outlets are adding to community anxiety, so I would like recommend that people gain their information directly from Government websites and announcements. This will ensure you are provided with the most reliable and evidence based information, which can help to reduce anxiety and panic. The Australian Government Department of Health website has the most up to date information regarding symptoms, recommendations and the current status of the pandemic.
The Australian Government Head to Health website also has a wealth of useful information and resources. This includes specific mental health information to assist individuals with maintaining good mental health during the pandemic. The below links provide additional information which can help with reducing anxiety, avoiding panic, minimising excessive worrying and maintaining a balanced outlook:
HYGIENE & SAFETY
Oracle Psychology has utilised the latest advice from the Australian Government Department of Health in order to develop a COVID-19 Management Plan. This is aimed at maximising safety and hygiene for clients as well as staff. Current expert advice is to actively maintain good hygiene to protect against the spread of infection in day to day life. Good hygiene is a requirement for all of our staff and includes:
We have multiple hand sanitisers available in every consulting room and waiting room, for the convenience of clients and staff. We also clean and disinfect surfaces every day. We have weekly staff meetings where COVID-19 updates are provided, in line with best evidence and expert advice. Email advice is also provided to staff as the situation develops, in order to ensure we are practicing the recommended health and safety measures.
All staff members are required to notify me immediately if they or one of their family members are unwell. No staff member will be at our clinic if they are unwell and they will be required to obtain clearance from a medical practitioner before returning to work. Any staff member returning from overseas will also be complying with all Government requirements in relation to self-isolation.
We are complying with all of the Government's social distancing requirements, including no hand shaking. We are also looking into further safeguards and we appreciate our clients' understanding and cooperation. As an added protection we are asking clients, wherever possible, to only attend the clinic with one support person or caregiver. We are making this request in an attempt to minimise the number of people attending the clinic at one time. Of course, we understand that in some instances this may not be possible, as other family members may be required to attend also.
We also ask that you do not attend the clinic if you are unwell. We hope to keep everyone as safe as possible and to reduce the risk of infection. Please advise us as soon as possible if you are unable to attend due to illness. Our company policy on cancellations of less than 24 hours still remains, even throughout the current COVID-19 pandemic. The reason for this is that we are still required to cover our business overheads in order to maintain continuity of service for our clients. The Government is hoping to minimize the social and economic impact on individuals and businesses by offering telehealth as an alternative.
CONTINUING TREATMENT & CHILD PSYCHOLOGY TELEHEALTH
In these uncertain times it is important for Oracle Psychology to continue to provide supports to our clients. There will be added pressure on all families in the coming weeks as we adapt to the changing world. We have a treatment continuity plan to ensure that we are able to continue to assist children, teenagers, young adults and families in these times of additional need. I would like to encourage all clients to continue treatment with their clinicians in order to promote their overall well-being and functioning. The current challenges facing our communities will mean that it will be essential to maintain good mental health and connection with important support networks.
We aim to continue to be available for face to face consultation unless directed otherwise. This is in line with current expert advice and the aims of the Government. However, we are offering all clients the option to access their ongoing treatment via telehealth services. Our Child and Adolescent Psychologists are experienced in the provisions of our professional consultations via digital modalities.
Utilising telehealth means using phone calls as well as audio and video conferencing options. These technologies offer significant opportunities for families, in these times of social distancing. We have many strategies and tools at our finger tips to help children and adolescents engage in accessing professional support from the comfort of their homes. Our telehealth consultations are informative, creative, interactive and helpful. Many young people are already very comfortable with social interactions via the Internet and this can build on their previous experiences.
Using telehealth is a simple process that we would be happy to help you understand and set up. Please call 02 4929 2223 if you would like reception to help and explain these options. Unfortunately, due to the nature of assessments, we cannot offer telehealth for these services at this time. Only treatment sessions can be accessed via telehealth.
The Australian Government understands the need for individuals to continue their treatment with Psychologists and other health practitioners. They have already announced changes in support of telehealth options given the current pandemic. In the event that the Government no longer allows clinic visits, I can assure all of our clients that we are well placed to continue to provide supports via telehealth.
Child Psychologist Daniel Wendt is the Principal Clinical Psychologist of Oracle Psychology in Newcastle, NSW.