Hello, and welcome to Therapy Connect Conversations. My name is Megan Walker, your host, and today our special guests are Simone Dudley and Sue Cameron. Today we’re going to be talking about the importance of having a planned approach to your therapy needs, and Therapy Connect have got a very specific way of doing this. So Simone, we’re going to start with you. Tell us a bit of the background, how do clients firstly register with Therapy Connect and what information do they need to get started?

Sure, Megan. So clients will generally register with us, so they’ll either do some Google searching or they’ll hear about us, or someone will mention our name. They then generally come through either our 1300 number or our website. Either way, we direct them to our website registration form to fill in. And this online form is terrific because it feeds back information about the client, about what services that the client and family are seeking. And if they’re an NDIS client, this can include information about NDIS plan dates, and there’s the ability to upload reports or client goals. The more information the family can provide, the better it is for our team to really start that planning process. So it’s a case of filling in an online form with the ability to upload relevant documents.

Okay. Terrific. Thanks Simone. And so often your clients are children with disabilities and they have a need for a lot of different services. So Sue, how do you work with a client to plan out what comes first and, and how they get started and organized with you?

When the form is received by the client services team, the client services team will be in touch with the family to make a clinical services planning appointment. And that is the part that’s unique to Therapy Connect. It’s something that we’ve decided that we needed over time so that we could collect all the relevant information in this clinical services planning session about the client. We need to find out what the goals are, the highest priorities.

It’s not uncommon for us to have a family with three children who need services and they might have all ticked psychology and speech and OT and dietetics. And obviously there aren’t enough hours in the week for a family to have all those individual sessions. So we would use one of our very experienced practitioners to do this clinical services planning session. And they would work with the family to figure out what would be achievable in their NDIS plan or if they are private clients, what they could achieve with the funds that they had available. And between them, they would decide how they would plan their therapy during the next period. And they would then give the family a report at the end of that session that just showed what had been agreed in the clinical services planning session.

I can imagine from a parent’s perspective that that’s a huge relief to go through that planning process. To not only get all of your ducks in a row and organized from a time perspective but to even understand what all the different therapies are, what comes first and how that all helps. So Simone, can you tell us how do you go about staging and spreading things out and getting it in the right order?

Really good question. And I guess this is so important. And when we were thinking about designing our service, it was so important for us to make sure that the quality of what we were offering, the skill set of the practitioner, the staging of the services was in the right order. So the client was having the greatest therapeutic impact. There are lots of reasons why staging of services might be really important, both clinically, but also from a family point of view.

So, Sue spoke about a family with multiple children requiring multiple services. You can imagine how difficult that would be if you’re a family member running around to different appointments. So having a bit of a coordinated approach and deciding factors, like what is the priority, what services the priority service to make a start with, will that have a beneficial effect? If we get started with for instance, OT, to then move on to speech and then potentially we can drop OT and we might pick up psychology or dietetics, just as an example. So it’s about thinking about what the family can cope with, but also what’s clinically the most important sort of approach.

And Simone you’re preventing overwhelm for that most important little person at the middle of all of it, aren’t you? By not doubling up or overloading them with too much input at once, aren’t you?

To the best of our ability we are. And sometimes it’s overwhelmed for the clients. Sometimes it’s overwhelmed for the family members who are managing the different communications and services through the week on top of their already busy weekly routine.

Yeah. What A great service that you offer there. And so what if a client has some services with you and some services that are elsewhere, how does that all get folded in and organized?

That’s a very common thing to happen, Megan. So people might be able to find an in-person occupational therapist in their local town, but not be able to find a speech pathologist or the other way around. So it’s really common. And at Therapy Connect, we really try hard to reach out, to find out who the other members of the team are, because we’re not in that geographical location. It’s not always that obvious. They might not be people that are known to us. So we do reach out to the other people that are in the team. And I have a really nice example. Last week, we had a really successful outcome where a child had been given a plan with the NDIS and it wasn’t meeting his needs. And so as speech pathologists from our team, along with an occupational therapist, from another team, another agency and a psychologist who was a sole practitioner, the three of them collaborated together and provided information for a review of this person’s plan. And they had a very successful outcome. So, that’s a really great example of how we can work together with other people inter agency.

That’s so good. And Simone, what happens then over time as your client’s needs change?

Well most of our clients are NDIS clients and they’ve got funding for a 12 month period. And you can imagine what might be really important at the beginning of that 12 months will change as the demand of the environment or the context changed for that client. So we need to be flexible with our approach to prioritizing services. Sometimes what might happen is some therapies move up the rank in terms of priority to other therapies. We might’ve planned to deliver 15 occupational therapy sessions, and we might drop some of those to be able to swing in some psychology sessions or speech pathology as they take the priority. So I guess what we’re talking about here is being really flexible when our priorities change over the course of time.

Thanks Simone. And Sue to wrap us up, we had a lovely conversation here about delivering the highest quality of coordinated services. And this is just such an extra step. Going that extra step to support your clients for anyone who’s listening, who’s new to therapy connect. You’ve got a large team of over 50 people. You’re a national organization. Can you just tell us what are the different services that you offer? Why do you believe that clinical services planning is a good idea? And then, I’m triple barreling you, how can people get in touch with you?

Okay, Megan. Well, we have speech and occupational therapy, psychology, dietetics, and physiotherapy. We also have a social worker and an early childhood educator on our team. Clinical services planning is such a great idea because it enables us to really ascertain what the needs of the family are. And then we can match them really much more easily with our big team of practitioners we can choose from. We can identify who would be the best person to work with them. And what was the third question?

You were doing so well, you get a gold star anyway Sue. And how can people get in touch with you?

Oh, absolutely. That’s always the same question. Isn’t it? So it’s on our website, which is www.therapyconnect.com.au or you can contact our client services team on 1300 757 806.

Thank you both for the amazing work that you do. And just that extra layer of care and support that you give to your clients and families. It’s been a pleasure as always to speak with you both today. Thank you.