Hello, and welcome to Therapy Connect Conversations. My name is Megan Walker, your host. Today I’m joined by Simone Dudley who is one of the co-founders of Therapy Connect, and Simone is also an experienced Occupational Therapist. We are going to be talking to two groups today. Firstly, if you are a therapist who is fully booked and has a long waiting list, we’d like to talk to you about opportunities for Telehealth, for your clients who can’t get in to see you. Secondly, we are also talking to parents and carers who are looking for immediate therapy appointments for your children or family members. 

Simone tell us about Therapy Connect to get started.

Thanks Megan, so Therapy Connect is a dedicated allied health Telehealth provider. We have a large group of allied health practitioners that are working with us to provide supports to clients all around Australia. We have occupational therapy, speech pathology, psychology, physiotherapy, dietetics, social work, and early educators.

Fantastic. And you’re one of the groundbreaking leaders in Telehealth. You’ve been at this for a while and you’ve got over 50 therapists around Australia. Start us off at the beginning. What is Telehealth?

Telehealth is the real-time delivery of allied health supports via video conference. We conduct assessment evaluation, direct therapy, and coaching all 100% online via video conference. This is how we work with our clients.

And tell us why Telehealth, why this mode of delivery over face-to-face?

As we know, Australia is a really large continent and allied health practitioners are in short supply. For many of us, especially rural and remote practitioners and consumers, it’s really hard to deliver and access services. In many cases, there’s just not a choice of services or providers. We felt that if we could deliver high-quality services online with clients we could maximize access, but also provide a choice to families around how they access supports.

Great. So allied health, like all other modern technologies, is entering a new stage of reaching people through the internet, which is amazing. And what’s the difference about Telehealth appointments to face-to-face?

The main difference that we’ve found through our work is that our clients need some support to get set up using the technology to feel confident to connect. Secondly, that our practitioners are trained specifically in how to adapt their clinical work into an online delivery format so that our clients are getting the best level of care.

Great. What can someone expect a therapy session to look like delivered over Telehealth?

Sessions look very much like they would look if you were in person. Initially, the practitioner is conducting an assessment, working out goal setting, thinking about the space that the session is going to be used and the resources that might be needed. The sessions over time, really look very similar to how they look in person. We might use a range of resources that might be owned by the therapist and shared on-screen or at the client’s end, depending upon what the goals are.

Okay, great. And do the clients and their families need a lot of technology? What special resources do they need to be able to access Telehealth?

Predominantly we are using a laptop or an iPad. Getting connected is sometimes a bit overwhelming, but it’s really easy once you’ve had that first experience with the technology.

And Simone does Telehealth work, is it as effective as a face-to-face appointment?

We really knew that it was, however we did some research with The University of Sydney and what we found was that families and participants that we work with all achieved their goals and were really enthusiastic about the regular and consistent access to allied health practitioners. All of a sudden, having more time with an allied health practitioner meant that caregivers had an increased sense of confidence in their ability to support their family member or the participant. Of course, having therapy in a natural setting was a real bonus. We didn’t have to pack up and hop in the car for appointments.

One less long car drive, what an amazing achievement in itself. And tell me what are families saying about Telehealth that you’ve been working with.

Clients tell hey us that they’ve really loved the fact that there’s no waitlist. They enjoy the fact that they can do sessions at home. They like to be able to have the flexibility of choosing appointments at a time that suits. They really enjoy having confidence in the therapist that’s matched with them as the effectiveness of Telehealth is not the technology rather the skills of the practitioners. It is really important that the therapists that are working with families feel confident in their ability to deliver that clinical service.

Fantastic. And Simone, you have a lovely culture in your organisation. Your people are so amazing, as you say, handpicked, and the caliber of them is incredible. And you’re all about relationships and helping people achieve their goals. So for other therapists who are listening and want to support their families who are on waiting lists or families and carers who are listening, how can they take the next step to start working with Therapy Connect?

We would say, keep your name on your local waitlist, but whilst you’re waiting on call Therapy Connect and find out how we can support you. If you can get into services, give Therapy Connect a call to see how we can support you. 

Thanks, Simone. And thank you for the wonderful work that you do.