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Jenny Clarkson

How COVID-19 has changed the way I work

Jenny Clarkson

My work life has changed immeasurably over the past couple of years as my MS has changed from relapsing to secondary progressive.

In the beginning, I adjusted the days I worked in order to give me the rest that I needed. But I then had to take early retirement from my employer, the NHS. At a time when I wasn’t quite ready to completely stop work, I was luckily still able to spend a few hours a week doing my job privately. This helped, as I was able to work around my health and keep my brain active.

Teletherapy and working from home

Now that COVID-19 has hit, my working life has changed once again. My job as a Paediatric Speech and Language Therapist means that I tend to see children on a one-to-one basis, playing games to help their speech and language and chatting with their parents. Suddenly, I have had to rethink whether I can still perform my job – and, if so, how.  

Enter remote working. Teletherapy is a relatively new practice that was starting to become more popular in my profession even before the pandemic. It got me thinking that I might be able to offer this to some of the families I work with.

After reading up on how to do it safely and practicing with my parents online, I was all set to go. I’ve now seen a couple of children via teletherapy and, though it is still early days, I have to say that I really like it.

Adapting the way I work

Adapting and managing my work as a result of COVID-19 has been both challenging and enjoyable. On one hand, I have learned a whole host of new skills using technology and adapting my practice to be more screen-based. Rewards games are played online instead of in person, so I have had to research websites and apps that can be used.  

I have had to focus my efforts to make sure that doing internet-based therapy is as enjoyable as face to face therapy is. I feel proud of myself and pleased that I have been able to step up to the challenge and continue to do work that I love. Of course, being able to do work whilst wearing my pajamas from the waist down helps!

The challenges of work and MS

On the challenging side, work is much quieter than usual, which means less money. It can also be very difficult to motivate myself when I have to balance so many different things. As well as my job, I’m also trying to both be my children’s part-time teacher and keep up with the other activities that help me to manage my MS - things like exercise, sleep and meditation.

Ultimately, I’m trying to view these changes in work practice as a beneficial. I’ve been able to slow down, learn new skills and spend more time with my family.  

As the world gets even more technology-savvy, maybe I have found something that I can continue with even after things return to ‘normal’? Who knows, but I am trying to view this as a positive step for my career, as someone with MS who wants to be able to work for as long as possible.

Read our information about work and MS in lockdown

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