A 'new normal' following COVID-19 and the economic crisis: Using systems thinking to identify challenges and opportunities in disability, telework, and rehabilitation.
BACKGROUND: The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) that emerged in late 2019, and later become a global pandemic, has unleashed an almost unprecedented global public health and economic crisis. OBJECTIVE: In this perspective, we examine the effects of COVID-19 and identify a likely 'new normal' in terms of challenges and opportunities within the fields of disability, telework, and rehabilitation. METHODS: We use a systems thinking lens informed by recent empirical evidence and peer-reviewed qualitative accounts regarding the pandemic to identify emerging challenges, and pinpoint opportunities related to health and changing employment infrastructure of people with disabilities and rehabilitation professionals. RESULTS: From our interpretation, the key leverage points or opportunities include: (1) developing disability-inclusive public health responses and emergency preparedness; (2) enabling employment and telework opportunities for people with disabilities; (3) addressing the new requirements in rehabilitation service provision, including participating as essential team members in the care of people with infectious diseases such as COVID-19; (4) embracing the added emphasis on, and capacity for, telehealth; and (5) developing greater resilience, distance learning, and employability among the rehabilitation workforce. CONCLUSIONS: The COVID-19 pandemic has become increasingly challenging to the lives of people with disabilities and rehabilitation professionals; however, key challenges can be minimized and opportunities can be capitalized upon in order to 'build back better' after COVID-19.
Jesus, TS; Landry, MD; Jacobs, K
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