Saturday, 7 December 2013

Video conferencing vs Services On Site

Hey Guys! Happy Saturday!
Ok, today I am touching on a hot topic for me and hopefully for you too, video conferencing. 

First a little about me and C.C.
Creating Communicators is a speech language consultation business that I started 5 years ago to provide speech and language services to schools on aboriginal land. It occurred to me that there is a huge gap in services to schools on aboriginal land and I wanted to fill that gap because historically children at those schools can be at the greatest risk for speech and language issues, poor attendance, and poor academic skills.
I am not a speech pathologist but I am a speech consultant. What a speech consultant does is they go into schools who require services and  provide materials for speech therapy and help teach staff how to carry out the treatment plans of their students.  A speech consultant can also go into classrooms and do activities on grammar, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, etc that students need help with. When in the class it also is a modelling opportunity for teachers to continue building on. All of this is under the supervision of a Registered Speech Language Pathologist. With my business I work with my favorite speech path- ShawnaLee Jessiman! She is the speech pathologist Creating Communicators hires to do all of our assessments, treatment plans, progress reports and supervision. Back to me- I have a rehabilitation diploma and a speech therapy assistant diploma through Grant MacEwan University. In addition to that I have been working as a speech assistant with Alberta Health Service for 11+ years. ShawnaLee Jessiman, who finished her doctorate in education this past February,  is a wealth of knowledge and a great registered speech pathologist with more than 20 years experience!

 Now let me give you a little background on our area. I live in rural, northern Alberta. The only services provided to most schools is through Alberta Health services, with the exception of Reserve Schools. Alberta health services has a wait time and although they are "free" they have limited number of staff. Through AHS you have receive services on their schedule and on their timeline.  So often times, schools contract out their own services privately. Schools on aboriginal land A.K.A reserve schools, do not receive services from Alberta health services but rater they have to contract their own private services. In our neck of the woods we serve a large and diverse area which can be hard to access in the winter months. Many schools have been contracting services through a speech business which provides services via video conference. To be clear, Creating Communicators does NOT provide speech services through video conference. I do understand why some business provide services via VC but remember just because it is an option doesn't  mean it is the only option, or even the best one! 

My views on VC.

Benefits of VC
  • cost effective - no travel time
  • they can hire staff from other areas
  • can provide services to rural areas in a cost effective manner
Downside of VC

  • not a natural communication style, missed and misinterpretation of social skills and social cues and no eye contact. Assessing communication styles is the backbone of what we do!
  • you miss a lot of the children's behaviors, and communication through vc which can result in missed opportunities for diagnosis
  • you find more conclusive results through face to face interaction and get a better "feel" of the clients/students when you are able to see them in classroom and face to face settings
  • children and adults may have anxiety about being on vc
  • video conference equipment is expensive and all sites have to have reliable and compatible software
  • even with a good connection there is a slight delay- which can hinder communication. In my opinion there is a lot of interrupting and uncomfortable pauses.
In my opinion, especially when providing speech services there is no substitute for face to face communication, especially when that is what we are doing, providing communication models and support on communication style! I do understand why some business provide services via vc but just remember it is NOT the only option available and should only be considered if all other services are not accessible!



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