Silver Chain client, Rebecca* faced months of recovery after an accident at home in WA’s rural mid-West – and thousands of kilometres of travel to see her surgeon during this time. But with telehealth, she was able to get all the help she needed in her home town. She explains what this service meant to her.
"I crushed my thumb by dropping a concrete slab on it! Thankfully my neighbour came to help and she rang the doctor and described the accident, and they said to go to the Geraldton hospital – and she drove me there even though it’s 150kms away.
Then I was flown to Perth for surgery on my thumb. I had to wait 3 days, and I was by myself; I didn’t even have a change of clothes.
When I got home, I couldn’t even look at my thumb, and when my daughter looked at it, she didn’t think it would ever have healed. I couldn’t drive, and so I didn’t know how I was going to get to the follow up appointments.
I knew there would be some help at the Silver Chain clinic in town, so I went and saw the nurse, Jody.
Jody was amazing! She would take photos of my thumb each visit and send them to the surgeon. She organised x-rays, took the stitches out, and did all the correspondence and co-ordination while it was getting better.
The surgeon in Perth would then come and talk via telehealth. It’s like a live talk, in real time, and you can see each other while you talk. It was an extraordinary experience – and so reassuring that things were going to be okay.
It’s exactly the same level of service as if you were sitting in the surgery, talking face to face with the doctor; I virtually had the surgeon at my doorstop.
And it was all done at the clinic – which is just 10 minutes away. Without telehealth, I would have been travelling to Perth or Geraldton every week, and there was no way in the world that would have worked.
Jody also put me in contact with someone from PEP (the Personal Enablement Program) who gave me some exercises to do to help with the recovery. I wasn’t until a month later that I met her in person!
The telehealth service was great because it reduced all the stress – to have people I know around me, and supporting me, it just helped me so much and really made a huge difference – and it’s so great for rural areas that we can get the same service as in Perth.
The recovery is still going but was the hardest for about 3-4 months. I was very lucky – I couldn’t do anything but my daughter was here to help.
To me, telehealth was just brilliant – one of the best technologies for people who are isolated.
It gave a real feeling of being supported; the surgeon made time to see me, and Jody made me feel comfortable, this made a huge difference. It was so well organised and well-managed, and these things all add up when you have something stressful going on."
*names have been changed
Telehealth Awareness Week runs from 25-29 June 2018.