I am an RN in a community health program looking to inquire about some public health concerns for informational purposes only. I am not looking for private information or trying to advertising anything. I am just trying to understand barriers to healthcare specifically that occurred since covid hit. Did anyone struggle to access health care, appointments, treatments during the pandemic preventing the appropriate management of any medical conditions or mental health illnesses? What did you do for support during these challenging times? Did anyone find telemedicine appointments helpful? Have these community forums been supportive during these challenging times?
I appreciate any feedback or insight in advance.
Hi. I was receiving EMDR therapy for PTSD on the NHS when the first lockdown happened in the UK. Appointments were suspended and I had weekly telephone calls with the psychologist that was treating me. It was very confusing for weeks, as my psychologist couldn't tell me what would happen despite her being the Lead Psychologist at the centre, because she didn't know what would unfold.At one point I was told that the managers were considering discharging everyone until appointments could resume. That would have meant no phone support. I didn't blame my psychologist, but I told her that if that happened I would put in a formal complaint. I reminded her that I had previously had a period where I had been suicidal and I did not intend that to happen again.
There was also talk of reducing the calls from one hour a week to either half an hour each week or one hour every two weeks. None of this had been decided upon when I was told that face to face appointments were to resume and that I would be the very first person to restart my treatment.
I had a gap of over two months in my treatment and it was appallingly hard to endure. With EMDR, the reprocessing of traumatic memories carries on between sessions, so it was especially hard every day.
I was offered Zoom meetings with my psychologist, but it wasn't suitable for two reasons; I have an acquired brain injury and get extremely fatigued by using technology like that, plus my psychologist agreed that I needed to be in a safe space with her if we were going to go into difficult stuff.
This sounds extremely frustrating and downright exhausting. I am glad to hear that your psychologist kept in touch via weekly phone calls, but I am sure this did not feel like enough at the time. Why were they considering canceling telephone support? Have you ever had telemedicine or facetime appointments- were they useful to you? It sounds like the teleconference would not be appropriate for your specific PTSD treatments but for supportive purposes, do you feel touching base and seeing your doctor on video conference would have been helpful? What else did you do during this difficult time for support- were the community support groups helpful?
I know some of my family members had similar concerns about switching to telephone therapy appointments; it is definitely not the same connection, and I am sure it was a difficult transition for all. Amazingly, technology had offered us some means of communication with each other when the entire world was seemed to be placed on pause due to covid.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with me.
Hi Sam. I believe that the proposal to stop telephone support was so that the managers could deploy people to do other tasks. I have never had telemedicine or facetime appointments, partly because I couldn't manage it with my brain injury but also I would refuse that type of appointment. I feel those appointments to be impersonal and not conducive to connecting people properly. I have no desire to video conference with my doctor. Having worked in mental health as well as being a patient, I believe the connection between the participants to be the most important factor in a successful appointment.
I am concerned that the managerial side of things will try to use the pandemic to push remote appointments to become 'normal,' because it would be more convenient for them and could cut costs.
I normally attend a brain injury support group each week, but that was suspended for two quite lengthy periods last year. I did have weekly telephone calls from a staff member, but I found it very tough as I don't have any other social contact at all. I couldn't find any other support so I would have two telephone calls a week but no contact with anyone else. I did find getting involved with Healthunlocked made a difference, but I really missed actually seeing other people. Before my brain injury I had a full time job which I loved which I still miss.
Sorry if I seem negative about these innovations, but I am just giving my honest opinion.