Getting back to the office after sheltering from home involves a number of important decisions. In the short post below, Telehealth.org offers you a checklist of questions to consider as you prepare to re-enter your workplace when the time comes.
An essential part of the planning process is to create a workable plan, one that highlights the things that are important to you, your work and the people who trust you with their care. A workable plan getting back to the office focuses on ideas that are practical and that build on one another. Setting yourself up for success with incremental steps to take between now and then will help support a smooth transition back into your physical workplace.
Practical Checklist for Getting Back to the Office
At the forefront of most people’s minds during the COVID pandemic is safety. How do you plan to keep yourself safe? How do you plan to keep your clients and patients safe from you, as well as other people in your office or your building?
Considerations for getting back to the office are grouped below for your convenience. Please feel free to add more in the comment section at the bottom of this page if other thoughts occur to you. Telehealth.org will keep this post online for you to check every now and then for more ideas if you like.
When considering all-around safety issues fore getting back to the office, here is a checklist of questions that you may want to ask yourself:
FOLLOWING THE RULES
Do I know the most up-to-date CDC guidelines for safety? Here is the link to the CDC guidelines.
Do I know the most up-to-date orders from my state’s Governor? (In addition to the Governor, consider your county’s or city’s Department of Health recommendations and meet or exceed those standards as they may differ from those for other parts of your state.)
How will I keep my office clean? How often will I clean high-touch areas like doorknobs, chair arms, light switches, etc.?
How will I manage the discussion around wearing masks, especially if my client/patient does not want to wear one?
Is my office set up to allow for social distancing?
Some therapists are ordering plexiglass shields to wear, install around their chairs, or to put on their desks after rearranging their office furniture to protect everyone involved. What are the pros and cons of taking such measures with the people whom I serve?
DEVELOPING PRACTICAL PROCEDURES WHEN GETTING BACK TO THE OFFICE
Will I adjust my schedule to allow for breaks in between sessions to prevent having more than one client at a time in the office?
How and where will I document my safety procedures?
Do I need to re-evaluate my required paperwork to include a signed waiver, release of liability, and assumption of risk agreement from each person, including signatures by parents or legal guardians on behalf of children?
Who can I contact in my local professional community to get a sense of local norms?
ARRANGING YOUR OFFICE SETUP
How do I arrange my office to maintain social distancing?
Will I take everyone’s temperature? Do I have the proper equipment? Where would I take this reading?
What do I say to people in my office who are disregarding social distancing requests and potentially put others in harm’s way?
MANAGING CHILDREN WHEN GETING BACK TO THE OFFICE
How will I address questions about bringing children to sessions if my policy has previously been not to allow children to be left alone in the waiting room?
How shall I best intervene if children are not complying with parental limits when parents are in session with me and the children are waiting?
ADVANCING AND RETREATING GRACEFULLY FROM TELEHEALTH
If I move forward and later decide it was ill-advised, how will I retreat to telehealth? Should I offer a week or two of in-office contact to see how I feel about it before offering a full return to in-person care?
If I retreat from in-person care after a few weeks, have I said disparaging things about telehealth? If yes, how can I then reasonably return to telehealth if needed?
What can I say or do to foster trust in my decision-making as I figure this out?
Regardless of how you answer these questions and manage your responses to them, it is important to have direct conversations with your clients prior to getting back to the office so that you are all prepared for the changes in the environment, both physically and emotionally. It is important to encourage open communication as issues arise around having to navigate through unfamiliar circumstances. By encouraging open communication, you are providing a safe space to address creative ways to manage change and potentially challenging experiences.
Self Care When Getting Back to the Office
While it is important to manage change and potentially challenging experiences for your clients, it is equally important to ensure that you are taking care of yourself, not only during this time but also throughout your clinical work. A consistent focus on self-care supports your ability to present your best self to your client and to yourself. There are many examples of self-care that are as diverse as each individual. It is important to find something that you enjoy and that allows you to disconnect from technology in some way. Some people like to read, journal, take walks, bake, or do puzzles. Others like to run, take pictures of nature, scrapbook, or play board games. Do whatever gives you joy and peace.
Telehealth After Getting Back to the Office?
Consider your experiences with using telehealth so far. If you are enjoying using telehealth in your practice, you may want to consider using that modality as you move forward with your work. Maintaining a positive attitude about your telehealth options will not only help you become increasingly comfortable with the use of technology in your work, but also help your clients to become open to creative options in their work with you. Please reach out to us for more ideas on how to do use telehealth as the primary modality for your clinical work.
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