Occupational therapy with children is usually hands-on work but during COVID-19 lockdown, Sebastopol's The Shine Centre had to get creative, and bring two university students on placement along for the novel experience.
The centre, which offers OT, psychology, speech pathology, art therapy, parenting support and allied health had to pivot to online sessions.
But with ACU third-year occupational therapy students Chelsea O'Toole and Ruby Young on placement they also had to work out how to give them the experience they need before they graduate and begin working in the field.
"We were at the stage where all staff here were doing Zoom sessions and virtual working from home with clients," Shine Centre occupational therapist Dominique Hewat said.
"So it was an interesting dynamic to have students come along and go with the flow."
The students observed the Zoom consultations online, helped develop a sensory program for pre-school and youth age groups in the home, and completed a sensory profile report to be sent to the National Disability Insurance Agency.
As part of the sensory program they developed, the students collated a variety of strategies for sensory processing for the eight sensory systems, specifically for pre-school and youth age groups, which could be implemented at home, school and in clinics.
They also created a 45-minute case conference presentation for the staff of the Shine Centre regarding sensory processing, its impact on occupation/activity and the strategies they discovered, with clinical reasoning/evidence behind the decision-making and to help explain the benefits.
"The telehealth experience has been a challenging but beneficial experience for both of us, and we really appreciate the effort that our supervisor put in to ensure that we got as much as we could from this placement," they said.
As lockdown has eased in regional Victoria under the 'third step' of the roadmap to recovery, some patients have returned to face-to-face appointments at Shine Centre and have returned to a new playground and sensory gyms.
During placement, the students completed research on various sensory gym equipment and programs which was used in the redevelopment of the spaces.
"These have various pieces of sensory equipment in them that can be used to help sensory processing and work out how clients respond," Ms Hewat said.