Adapting to a new reality

boy and physiotherapist

With two lockdowns and intermittent closures of the educational system, it has been a challenging few months for all children. Even more so for children with special needs, and their families, who are dealing with an added worry as the children are ‘high risk’. Additionally, lack of paramedical therapies, that are usually provided in school/daycare, will cause regression in some children. 

The Malki Foundation and its dedicated therapists have adapted the way they work in order to ensure continuity of services and safety of all parties – child, family, therapist. We recently asked three of our most experienced therapists how their work has changed.

Irit, a Therapists on Wheels physiotherapist in Northern Israel explained: “Our world has completely changed and we are required to treat children in a completely different and much more complicated way…Also due to the restrictions it is harder for us to physically meet the children. Therefore it has been essential to adapt the therapies and increase communication with the family to include phone calls, video clips and Zoom. That enabled us to maintain constant contact during this complicated time and provide a solution to the preexisting needs as well as the new ones that have developed due to the situation.”

Lisa, a speech therapist from the South has moved some of her sessions to Zoom. The children she works with are unable to interact via Zoom but she has been able to observe and instruct the parents. “Mom follows my instructions to play with her while modeling communication. I can then lead Mom to make changes based on H responses. I also spend very important time listening to what has happened all week, how H responds to the communication going on at home. That is how we move forward, observing H’s interests, encouraging her to actively interact with family members based on her interests and giving the family instruction.” Lisa has even managed to introduce a new therapy method for one girl that the parents report has increased her general happiness. 

Alan, a physiotherapist on our Therapies at Home program, said that after the first lockdown there was a huge rush for therapies – “Parents were quite worried about their child’s lack of therapy and wanted to try make up as much as possible.”

All three therapists spoke about the need for protecting themselves and the families against the virus during in-person sessions. Lisa: “Whenever one of the family members went into quarantine, we would talk on the phone or communicate via Whatsapp. When they finished quarantine and tested negative we set up a quick date to meet.”

Both Alan and Irit have adapted their clinics. Alan explained “I have rearranged the room so parents sit close to the open door during therapies. I check everyone’s temperature and ask about general health…Obviously masks are worn correctly by me and the parent.” 

Irit: “I work under very strict conditions – disposable gown, gloves, mask and shield; disinfection of all toys and equipment before and after each session. It’s not easy working with a mask with children who are non-verbal as they really need the touch and warmth, especially now, when they are not receiving it due to the lockdown.” 

The dedication of all the therapists can be summed up by Irit: “I go into the children’s homes with an open mind, good intentions and lots of positive energies in order to give reinforcement. My role as a physiotherapist is not only physical therapy but also to provide support throughout the whole developmental process of the child, to them and their dear families.”

Click below to listen to Irit (in Hebrew):