Guidance for Virtual Assessments

Do not be afraid of using this medium. Rather than viewing it as something that is new and alien, think of it as the same process just via a different medium. Don’t underestimate your clients’ ability. Most of them already use the technology and if they don’t, most of them can learn easily and quickly.

Pre assessment

  • Plan, plan, plan. Go through the meeting in your head and break it down in to the different steps that you would normally take. What information do you need? What information are you supplying?
  • Now think about the medium you are going to use how would you supply it over this medium? Screen share, hold the camera on your smartphone up to laptop etc
  • Familiarise yourself with the platform you are going to use. The most common ones are;
  • Facetime
  • WhatsApp
  • Facebook
  • Skype
  • Team Meetings
  • Zoom
  • Livestream
  • Webex
  • If you are going to record a session check with your GDPR team regarding the storage of the information.
  • Arrange a time with a colleague to go through a trial run of the platform. If you are going to be interacting/screensharing ask your colleague to let you know how long the delay is and how easy it is to see on their screen.
  • Familiarise yourself with controls such as zooming in on your screen or writing on documents using a stylus or mouse.
  • Arrange a time to speak to the client beforehand. Use this time to
    • Check the chosen platform works
    • Familiarise yourself and the client with the platform
    • Reassure the client
    • Identify any possible problems that maybe unique to that situation
    • Ask them to make sure their devices are fully charged prior to the meeting
    • Ask them to ensure they don’t sit with a window or bright light source immediately behind them.
  • Consider your backdrop as the person making the call – i.e. as blank as possible. This can help to reduce distractions for whoever is speaking to you (i.e. the client) and also if you are working from home helps with confidentiality / professionalism etc. Some platforms such as Microsoft teams will allow you to blur the background.

During Assessment

  • Consider how many people on camera at once during the assessment or meeting. Having more than one face on the screen may be confusing or too much of a distraction for your client.
  • If you are using more than one screen explain that if you look to the side or up it is because you are using multiple screens.
  • Make sure all your phones and computer notifications are on silent.
  • Be aware of the delay between you speaking/screen sharing and the other person receiving
  • Don’t be afraid to leave pauses.
  • If you want to record the session you must check their capacity to do so. Ask them if they mind you recording the interview and explain what this means i.e. that there will be a permanent record of everything that is said between you including their face and responses as well as any documents that are shared. Explain it will be saved on a secure server that only those associated with the case can see and that it will only be released to other parties if requested as evidence. Ask them to briefly recap their understanding of what it will happen if the session is recorded.
  • If they are ok for it to be recorded, then ask if they are ok if you get a colleague to peer review it in order to ensure everything was covered and to enable you to improve practice.
  • If in a care home, ask a member of staff to confirm who is in the room. If they are leaving the room during the meeting, ask them at the end to confirm that no-one else entered the room or was in the room during the meeting.
  • Look for signs of distraction that someone might still be in room if you think client alone etc and need to be mindful of undue influence. For example, regularly looking away from the screen or over the top or to the side.
  • REMEMBER THAT THIS MEDIUM MAY NOT WORK FOR EVERYONE. If it is not working, then it’s ok to acknowledge this and stop.

Post assessment

  • Take time to reflect on what worked and what didn’t. Use this to inform future practice
  • If permission was granted by the client, ask a colleague to review it. Ask colleagues to review both the good and the bad. As good ones will give them confidence and ideas as to how the system works and not so good ones will help them trouble shoot in case a similar thing happens to them.