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Did you know that up until the 30 September this year children under 16 years of age may be eligible for Bulk Billed Telehealth services with psychologists? Social distancing doesn’t mean therapy has to stop.
Who is eligible for Telehealth Bulk Billed Services?
To be eligible for bulk bill rates, your child must have a current referral from a GP, child psychiatrist or paediatrician (as required) under one of the following programs:
- Mental Health Care Plan
- Helping Children with Autism (therapy items)
- Chronic Disease Management or
- Eating Disorders Services
What does Telehealth involve?
Telehealth is where the psychologist provides therapy via the telephone or via the internet (videoconferencing). Aside from a quiet place in the house for you and your child to talk to the psychologist, you will need a device such as a phone, tablet or laptop. The bigger the screen the better.
Videoconferencing is more than just video. When our psychologists work with children and families, they have access to virtual whiteboards, can share documents and even play games online with children. We are starting to use a platform called Coviu which gives us lots of different ways to engage children.
Reception has put together a checklist to help you prepare for your first video-conference.
What if Telehealth isn’t for me?
We want to make Telehealth works for our clients so this means we can vary the frequency and length of sessions. For example, some of our families find 30 minute sessions easier to manage. Particularly when there is a house full of other children in the background!
Our psychologists are still seeing some clients face to face in our Centre. We are an allied health service and plan to continue providing supports this way for as long as we can. Therefore it’s possible to mix things up with some Telehealth and some face to face sessions. Where our staff have to self-isolate then Telehealth is still an option open to you to explore.
It’s important to let your psychologist know if there are any concerns about Telehealth as they may be able to do things differently.
Need more information?
Our staff are embracing Telehealth and exploring all the ways we can make it work for children. We’re recognising that with the pandemic that it may be some time before things return to “normal” and we want to make sure that all of our clients can access the help and support they need.
Please call our Reception for further information about our services on 9274 7062.
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Managing strong feelings at the best of times can be challenging. Our children take their lead from us. When we are chaotic, so are they. When we are in the grip of strong feelings such as anger and sadness, they watch and learn (whether this is positive or negative) how to react and behave. When we are calm and rational, they are more likely to model this too, and if not, at least we are in a better place to help them with their strong feelings.
We want to be able to coach them through these strong feelings and teach them how to manage them well. However, that means we ourselves need to have a sense of how to do this so that we can help our children find calm. Sometimes, even if we do know what to say and do, our own strong reactions to them can interfere with a rational and helpful response.
What to do with strong feelings first?
Here are some tips to initial responses you can try:
- Allow them to express themselves (without hurting anyone), for a minute or two. This might be verbal or non-verbal expression;
- Reflect back to them what you think they might be feeling …“you seem pretty angry”, “do you feel frustrated?”, “are you sad?”. Often merely acknowledging their feelings will help diminish their intensity. When children feel seen and heard, they tend to calm naturally;
- However, when their feelings are very big and strong, we may need to let them express it further, but help them to do this more appropriately. For example “do you need to stomp out your anger?” (and stomp with them), “why don’t you hit this cushion with all of your anger?” (and stay close by), “it’s ok to scream loudly, but do it into the air or a pillow…not my face”.
How to help children calm down
Any break in this expression of feeling is the time to jump in with calming strategies:
- encourage little ones to breathe, and in particular to blow out a big breath, just like blowing out lots of candles;
- explain to pre-teens and teens that we need to expel the build-up of carbon dioxide that makes us feel sick and dizzy;
- encourage them to move around, to shift the adrenalin that has built up;
- connect with little ones again, by holding their hands and looking into their eyes, affirming to them that they are safe and not in trouble for having big strong feelings. If there was a trigger event of a conflict, address this afterwards, but not right now. Wait about 10 minutes before talking about it when you are both calm;
- connect with teens by a touch, a text, or gesture of making them something to eat or drink. Give them the option of talking to you, if not straight away, then perhaps in the car on your next trip. If conflict needs to be addressed, deliver the pre-agreed upon consequence without negotiation or emotion.
What if strong feelings are becoming a problem?
If you are unsure, our experienced psychologists can be your coach. They will then be able to show you how to model becoming calm for your children to see and encourage how to teach your children with similar strategies.
We all know that parenting is not an easy journey and that many of us experience stress and anxiety or even guilt at times. If this is the case, and you are overwhelmed with your own strong feelings, we have a clinic at the CWBC designed specifically to address parenting stress and anxiety.
During these challenging times, the Centre remains open and can offer in-person sessions or online meetings.
Please contact Reception for further information.
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As you will be aware, we are living in very complex and challenging times. I want to affirm for you that the Child Wellbeing Centre will continue to provide therapy services in the weeks and months to come. Our aim is to provide a range of options to meet the needs of our children and families, including face to face consultation, telephone or video-conferencing and in some instance “therapy packages” for parents to work on with children at home.
As an allied health practice, we are considered an essential service. Further, we are being asked by both the NDIS and the Australian Government Department of Health to find ways to continue providing services during these difficult times. No one knows when the “other side of the pandemic” will arrive so we are now thinking about the short and long term strategies.
The NDIS introduced a number of measures at the start of the week to support service providers such as the Child Wellbeing Centre. This was done in recognition of the challenges ahead – both to keep therapy going and to keep staff employed.
A summary of changes is below. We ask for your support and co-operation as we introduce these new measures.
|Proposed change||What this means for you?|
NDIS will temporarily increase prices by 10% for services covered by Improved Daily Living (e.g. therapy services).
We will be invoicing the 10% and applying that to all invoices from the 25 March.
The good news here is that NDIS will also increase your child’s funding by 10% too, so it shouldn’t affect your child’s overall funding.
The bit we’re not clear about is when families will see this extra funding.
From 25 March 2020, participants will be required to give 10 business days’ notice (no longer 3pm, the day before) for a cancellation if they want to avoid paying the full fee for a cancelled service.
From 30 March, participants will be charged 100 per cent of the agreed support price if they cancel a service at short notice (no longer 90 per cent).
We will be rigorously applying the cancellation policy as per the NDIS requirements.
We understand that children may be sick or you may be self-isolating. However in the current environment, we don’t really have any other option if the Centre is to remain open in the longer term.
Normally when we make changes at the Centre I try to give a lot more notice. However we live in challenging times and my management team and I are making decisions day to day in the interest of our clients and staff. I sincerely hope these are temporary measures only and that we find our way back to “normality” soon.
Our preference is to keep providing therapy and problem solve how we can best do this with you. We have lots of creative ideas about how we can do this. COVID-19 doesn’t have to stop therapy.
Please feel free to talk to your case manager and consultant about these changes. Let us know if you are thinking of withdrawing from therapy and feel free to ask about the alternatives. Brookke Haggett, Business Operations Manager is also available to during the week should you need to have a chat.
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I’m sure you’re all too aware that if there is one constant at the moment with Covid-19, it’s that things keep changing! Like you, we are monitoring the news on a daily basis and making decisions about how we can keep our staff, clients and community safe.
As allied health professionals, we will keep providing our usual therapy services to our clients for as long as it is safe for us to do. We are still offering face to face therapy but you’ll note we are vigilant about handwashing and hand sanitisers…whether we see you in the Centre or in schools or at home. We are also keeping staff home when they have flu/cold symptoms and asking our clients to stay home too if they are unwell.
We’re getting a little creative too!
Telehealth services are available. This means therapy via telephone and video conferencing. A few of our staff are currently learning about videoconferencing and how to use this for therapy. Others have already been providing services this way to our country clients for some time. The nice thing is that most of our children will be fine in this medium (and probably be the experts!). It will probably be the adults catching up!
Where we can we are also looking at what we can do to set up independent therapy tasks for those self-isolated at home, particularly with our ABA clients.
Please feel free to talk to your consultant about how we can support you and your children. We will be working hard to be flexible.
We’re not planning on going anywhere just yet!
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We are certainly living in very interesting times. Our news and social media is flooded with news about the Covid-19 virus and the impact it is having in people’s lives.
At the Centre we are trying to operate on a business as usual basis and will continue to provide therapy services for our clients. However we are changing a few things to minimise the risk of infection for everyone.
What are we doing?
In our consulting rooms, you’ll be seeing staff using hand sanitisers more often – in particular at the start and end of sessions. If our staff are seeing you at home, they will be practising hand-washing with your children.
We’ve beefed up our toy cleaning regime to try and keep resources as germ-free as possible.
Our front desk staff will be regularly wiping the EFTPOS machine and reception counter and ledges with disinfectants too.
We are reviewing procedures on a day to day basis in light of what we are learning from the Coronavirus updates. A really useful website (in case you haven’t come across it so far) is the Department of Health WA website:
How can you help?
Please encourage your child to wash their hands when they come into the Centre. Hand washing, when done properly, is still the most effective way of reducing the spread of germs.
Please keep children, yourself and other family members home if they have cold/flu symptoms. This becomes even more critical as we get closer to winter. Those wonderful people working at the Coronavirus screening clinics just won’t have the capacity to screen everyone and it’s better to be safe than sorry. Let Reception know as soon as you can that you need to reschedule.
Please don’t be angry with staff if you come to an appointment and you or your child is unwell and we ask you to leave. We understand that therapy is important but the priority at the moment is to minimise the spread of infection in the community.
Oh, and this one is a bit cheeky….please don’t “borrow” our toilet paper rolls. Quite a few rolls disappeared last week. We’re running short like everyone else on hand sanitisers, tissues and toilet rolls and are working very hard to source replacements. Toilet paper is proving the trickiest to find!
Working together we can have a big impact in slowing down the virus and protecting the most vulnerable in the community. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation in advance.
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It is more than likely that by now you and your children are being exposed to sources of anxiety and panic around the coronavirus (COVID-19). As always, when parents worry or panic, children can pick up on this without really understanding what it is all about. Typically their questions will start with “what is … or … what if”. Rather than just telling them not to worry, simple explanations with age-relevant objective information can be very helpful.
Helping kids understand the worry about the Coronavirus
One of the best antidotes to anxiety and panic is knowing more about the topic. It may be helpful for you to know that recently the statistics are indicating that children are not being greatly affected by the Coronavirus. To date, it seems that children may be less likely to catch the virus, and if they do, they may have mild flu like symptoms that seem to resolve without further complications.
If the children see people wearing masks on tv or in shopping centres, you might talk about it helping to prevent the spread of germs, and why washing your hands is very important. Teenagers might like to discuss the pros and cons for wearing a mask. These are easy conversations that will assist them with any sense of worry or anxiety. However, it is very important that adults discussing this with children are well-informed, not by the news but by our science forums.
Getting helpful information
News reports exacerbate anxiety and panic around people stockpiling staples. Rather than it being the situation of every-man-for-himself, this is a wonderful opportunity to talk to your children about being organised, and thereby being able to support your family and community. When buying extras (if this is what you choose to do), you might discuss how you as a family might need to support others who aren’t able to be as organised. For example, if you know near-by elderly people, you might talk in terms of making sure that you will be able to help them if this is needed. Depending on their age, your children might also understand the need to support other families with people who are often sick (the immunosuppressed). Indeed, there may be families in their school that are already identified, and this close-to-home example allows the possibility of thinking about what others might need too.
Yes, there is concern about COVID-19. Do we need to panic? Absolutely not and it is imperative for our children that we don’t. Our children can catch anxiety as easily as any virus. Protecting them from the germination of our own anxiety is the best preventative.
You are of course very welcome to discuss your concerns about your child’s level of anxiety with our psychologists. We can’t help with medical advice but we can help with anxiety management.
Please call reception on 9274 7062 for further information.
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Some of our little ones, and even our no-so-little ones, might be finding it hard to say good-bye to their parent at the classroom door. At the beginning of the school year, particularly for under 6’s, this is understandable in terms of their attachment to us, as well as the unfamiliarity of a new room and teacher. By now, most of our kiddies are settling into their new routine and are comfortable with a quick kiss and wave. However, for some children, this parting can still be an excruciating time, with great distress for all involved.
Why do children find it hard to separate?
Sometimes the reasons for this can be quite clear, especially if they’ve suffered a recent loss or trauma. For others, their distress is unexpected, and parents can find this very confronting and concerning. When there is great wailing or screaming, and clinging to the parent for dear life, both parent and child are likely to need support and assistance to reduce everybody’s anxiety. Old school thought included ripping the children off their parents with the belief that the child will forget them once they’ve left. These days we tend to adopt a more gentle approach, with less painful measures and less lasting repercussions.
What can I do to help?
Just as you might have done when they were little, give them a period of time for adjustment, with some words in their ear about what you will do together on pick-up. Give them something of yours to hold and settle them into an activity close to their teacher.
When these soothing words and support are not enough, we need to determine what is going on for them and give everyone coping strategies to help with this situation. Whether or not it is actually separation anxiety, teaching staff and parents, as well as the children, will do well with a nurturing plan moving forward.
If you would like more support, we have psychologists experienced in this area that can assist you. Please call us on 9274 7062 for more information about our services.
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It’s the first (or second for some) week back at school. Hopefully, all that hard work over the last few weeks has paid off and your child was ready for school. At the very least, you got all your school shopping done.
The first week back at school is always a busy one. Children have to get used to new teachers, possibly new peers, and new routines. Parents and carers have to adjust to after school routines again.
As the dust settles, it’s important to spare a thought for setting up your working relationship with your child’s teacher or teaching team this year.
Teachers also have to get used to lots of new faces and new routines too. The first week back can be challenging for teachers as they learn about their new students. And then there is also all the administrative work that has to happen in the background during the first week.
Positive relationships with teachers
Having a strong positive relationship with your child’s teacher is important. They are going to be a very important person in your child’s life for the next year. They are also going to be the person who celebrates your child’s successes and is there to help when things don’t go to plan.
Here are my top five tips for how to start off on the right foot with your child’s teachers:
1.Be thoughtful about how and when you communicate with teachers. Pouncing on the teacher at the start or the end of the day isn’t likely to lead to a quality conversation. Keep in mind that there will be other parents lining up for a “quick word”. Use class emails or request a time to meet with the teacher if you have something that needs a longer conversation, e.g. a worry that you want to share with about child. That way you can have your child’s teacher’s undivided attention and a more productive conversation.
2. Go to any parent-teacher class introduction sessions where you can. These sessions are often when teachers explain their processes and their aims for the year. It’s also a chance to ask about anything you are not sure about. Chances are you won’t be the only one in the group who wants to know the answer to your question too.
3. Volunteer – not only a great way to build a relationship with a teacher but a neat way to help the children in the class.
4. Back to emails again. If you can’t get into the classroom, then email is your best friend. Many teachers will use apps and emails to share information about what’s happening day to day. Some will send out photos of activities too. Email can be a useful way of forming that connection if you can’t physically be there for drop-offs and pick-ups.
5. Lastly, keep your teacher in the loop. Teachers want to know about things that are happening in the life of the child that will impact on children day to day e.g. sickness. The challenge is always to find the most appropriate way to communicate with the teacher…which takes us back to the first point.
I hope your child has a very successful year at school. Schools like to see parents as partners in children’s education. Getting to know your child’s teacher and working out how best to communicate with them is the first step towards that partnership.
As always you are very welcome to talk through any concerns you have with the team.
Please call Reception for further information about our services on 9274 7062.
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As adults, we know what it feels like when we have a poor night’s sleep. We can wake up the next morning feeling like we don’t have energy, grumpy and can even experience “brain fog”. Children also are affected by poor sleep, particularly when poor sleep happens night after night.
As we approach the start of the school term, this week is a good week to get those sleep routines back in place.
Setting up Sleep Routines
A good place to start is to look at how they prepare for sleep. A sleep routine is all the routine actions we take on the way to putting our head on our pillow. We all have a sleep routine but some actions are more helpful than others.
A helpful sleep routine might look like:
- some quiet time (e.g. reading & drawing);
- laying out clothes for the next day;
- getting into PJs;
- brushing teeth and visiting the toilet;
- having 10-15 minutes with a parent reading a story together; and
- lights out.
Some habits are not going to promote good sleep. Try to avoid the following:
- Don’t let your child have sugary and caffeinated drinks before bedtime. Too much sugar and caffeine makes it hard for their bodies to wind down;
- Don’t let them take an electronic device to bed. The light that these devices emit gives the brain the message that’s its day-time, making it harder to fall asleep. Plus, the visual stimulation that comes with video games keeps the brain alert…the opposite of what it needs at bedtime;
- Don’t give in to repeated calls for drinks, cuddles and more stories. A gentle (but brief) reminder that you are near-by and that it’s bedtime is all that’s needed. Giving lots of attention at bedtime, only helps to keep your child awake;
- No vigorous exercise for your child before bedtime. Exercise energises us…again the opposite of what we need to feel at bedtime; and
- Don’t spend too much time trying to settle the child (e.g. rocking or cuddling the child) when they can’t sleep. Aside from giving lots of attention, it may be stopping the child from learning self-soothing skills themselves and may actually keep them awake longer.
Some actions which are more likely to promote good sleeping in children include:
- Making sure that there is sufficient quiet time in the routine…at least 20-30 minutes and putting this in at the start of the routine. Very few of us wind down in 5 minutes!
- Trying to incorporate a bath into the routine (for those children who like baths). A warm bath is an excellent way to relax the body. Be careful with showers though – they tend to refresh us and wake us up.
- Leaving nightlights on. Younger children, in particular, find this comforting and fortunately we are spoiled for choice in terms of brightness, colours and shapes.
- Reassure anxious children that you will come back during the night and check on them and that you are in the next room etc. This can help soothe any worries.
- Being consistent. Sleep routines take a while to establish.
Need more help with your child’s sleep?
These ideas are general and a good place to start. Some children struggle with sleep and need more than just good sleep routines in place. The psychology team in the Centre can help with further assessment and strategies. Please call our Reception on 9274 7062 for more information.
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Aside from getting back into routine, going back to school is a great time for children to reconnect with their friends. It’s also another year ahead of learning and fun. For some children the transition back into school can be challenging. Rather than leave that transition to the night before, there is quite a bit that you can do right now to help with getting your child ready.
5 Tips for getting ready for school
If you haven’t already started, this week is the time to start focusing on getting everyone ready for school again. How can you prepare?
- Sit down and plan out with your children what you will need to do to prepare for school. Create a checklist and timetable of all the steps that are required. This helps reduce any overwhelming feelings to something more manageable.
- Talk about the good things that are likely to happen when your child is back at school. The start of the school year is a time to make new friends and meet new teachers. There’s also lots of cool stuff to learn about.
- Adjust sleep times. During the holidays most children tend to go to bed later than they would on a school night and sleep in later. Starting to adjust sleep times gradually before school starts is likely to be more effective then suddenly demanding that your child be asleep at their usual time the night before school starts!
- For younger children, do a walk around the school showing them where their class will be, how to find the toilets and where school drop-offs and pick-ups will be and
- Celebrate back to school with a party or special event. Include one of their friends or classmates for school to make the occasion that little bit more special.
What about the anxious child?
Some children become very worried at the start of the new school year, often imaging the worst is about to happen. As parents, it’s important that we acknowledge those worries. Telling someone not to worry seldom works! Instead the focus on coping strategies and helping the child find things to help them manage these worries.
For some children, rehearsal strategies like social stories are really helpful. They explain what is going to happen and can reassure the child that things will be fine.
For other children, finding gentle ways to challenge their worry thoughts is what’s needed. For example, reminding them of all the other times they were worried and good things happened.
Being a little worried about going back to school is perfectly normal. However, if you feel your child is “too worried” then our psychology team is there to help with strategies to help children back into school. Please call reception on 9274 7062 for more information about our services.