Speech-Language Therapy from Nelson
Ann Lewis and Michele Cunningham
When Ann Lewis started having trouble with her voice, a specialist diagnosed a lack of collagen in her vocal cords and referred her to speech-language therapist Michele Cunningham. “I saw Michele on one of her regular visits to Golden Bay and she raised the option of doing the therapy via virtual consultation,” says Ann. “I thought it was a splendid idea. Why travel over the hill if I don’t have to?” Michele initiated a pilot virtual health programme in Golden Bay as part of her career and salary progression project. “I spent awhile exploring and trialing technology and settled on using the video conferencing platform ZOOM,” Michele says.
Michele did an initial assessment with Ann and then set up a therapy programme using virtual health where appropriate. “Speech-language therapy sessions don’t always need to be face-to-face. But you do need good equipment as voice therapy is about sound and whether the pitch is stable and sometimes that can be hard to tell on a video link,” she says.
Ann says Michele prepared her before their sessions started and she knew what to expect. “There was a slight glitch with the sound in the first session but we muddled through,” she says. Michele admits there are still some teething issues with the technology, but she’s had great support from Nelson Bays Primary Health Organisation and Golden Bay Community Health staff. Despite the issues both Ann and Michele agree their virtual health experience has been a success. Ann says although she is quite comfortable driving over the hill she resents having to spend a whole day away from home. “If we hadn’t done a virtual health consultation there wouldn’t have been as many sessions and the therapy would’ve been harder to do,” she says. “I think it’s a fantastic idea and I didn’t feel it was less of a session because of the technology.”
“Some people my age may not be comfortable with the technology — but in another ten years it might be different,” she says. “It wasn’t an issue for me and it certainly beats travelling.”