How has the Coronavirus crisis affected your work at rehaKIND?
Hennemann: Needless to say, we stay in touch with our members, parents, and supporters by phone or email. However, we believe it’s extremely difficult to facilitate onsite training, trade fairs, and other events in the first half of this year and summer and suspect this will take us into next year. As long as there is no effective vaccine, our target group is at a higher risk. Meanwhile, physicians and therapists have to readapt their work to accommodate children and young adults once the intense coronavirus focus has been lifted. It will take some time to get to that point. We already miss the human interaction and creative social interactions. We have also postponed our rehaKIND Congress for one year until February 2022. It’s sad, but we are in the process of creating digital platforms and ways to meet and communicate.
Do you also see a trend toward more digital rehabilitation options? Are there any resulting benefits once the Coronavirus pandemic will end?
Hennemann: I believe the Coronavirus has helped Germany as a whole to catch up on its digital homework. Besides consultation hours, which can take place via virtual visits even at short notice, exercises, courses, documentation and tracking of successful treatment outcomes are also an option with digital support services. It’s very likely that there will be more respective choices coming up in the future – however, face-to-face interaction is very important to capture an integrated view of the young patient and get a holistic understanding of the whole person. After all, the goal of these digital alternatives is not to prompt more social isolation and seclusion for our young target audience.
What do you want to see in the rehabilitation of children and the industry in the future?
Hennemann: First and foremost, I would generally like to see more attention and consideration being paid to pediatric rehabilitation. Parents made a deliberate and conscious decision to have these children and they need our support in everyday life.
Preventive health care services to avoid a worsening of the condition or disability, and primarily auxiliary aids and services that promote participation should not be associated with bureaucratic struggles with insurance providers but be a matter of course. Children and young adults with disabilities want to live a self-determined life as much as possible and need experts who have confidence in their developmental abilities. We mustn’t accept limitations and restrictions resulting from standard auxiliary aids or a lack of personalization in care all in the name of cost savings. Our society needs all children because diversity helps us to become stronger as a global community.
The ICF (International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health) is a classification of the health components of functioning and disability by the World Health Organization (WHO). The name points out that we must not focus on a person’s deficits and disability, but emphasize the resources and abilities of each individual. Our environment must not become an added obstacle to overcome but must help counteract the effects of disability and promote inclusion. We all want to feel accepted as we are – whether or not we have a disability. It is one of the deepest needs of the human heart and requires a functioning society to accept and protect the strong and the weak.
In "An Inspector Calls", J.B. Priestley says, "We don't live alone. We are all members of one body. We are responsible for each other." This notion is mainly evident in the treatment and perception of marginalized groups, minorities, the sick and the elderly – especially when we face a crisis like the current pandemic.