Publication date: Nov 24, 2023
Occupational therapists (OT) assess and prescribe assistive devices to older adults with limitations in performing daily living activities. Timely prescription of assistive devices to accommodate the rising demand has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Tele-assessment allows for continuity of care, but its success depends on therapists’ acceptance. This study examined OTs’ perceptions of the feasibility of conducting tele-assessment and developing a clinical practice guideline for remote prescription of assistive devices for older adults in Singapore. Eligible OTs were recruited from purposive sampling. Semi-structured interviews were conducted via a virtual platform (Zoom). Audio recordings were transcribed verbatim. Inductive thematic analysis using a line-by-line coding method was used to identify common trends. Interviews with 10 participants revealed three main themes: (1) therapists’ perceptions of the feasibility of tele-assessment, (2) criteria for safe and appropriate prescription of assistive devices via tele-assessment, and (3) practical considerations for the implementation of tele-assessment. Participants felt that tele-assessment increases efficiency with more older adults being more receptive towards technology. They also raised suggestions to address OTs’ concerns regarding the safety and accuracy prescription of assistive devices following tele-assessment. This included establishing the client’s suitability for assistive device prescription, characteristics of assistive devices, resources required, and considering the preferences of stakeholders involved. Tele-assessment for assistive device prescription by OTs appears feasible in Singapore. OTs should consider collaborating with other stakeholders to develop a tele-assessment clinical practice guideline for assistive device prescription. Further studies testing its clinical effectiveness during and/or post-pandemic are warranted.