Hello and welcome to Therapy Connect Conversations. My name is Megan Walker, your host. Today, Sue Cameron and Simone Dudley, directors of Therapy Connect, are going to tell us a bit about their journey and how they have grown to become one of Australia’s largest providers of telehealth services. Hello, Sue, how are you today?
Hi, Megan. I’m really well, thank you.
How did Therapy Connect get started?
I’m a speech pathologist, and my friend and colleague Simone Dudley is an occupational therapist, and we started providing telehealth services as Therapy Connect in 2015. I live in Western Victoria and Simone lives in the Riverina in New South Wales. We were a long way apart, but we were both very interested in developing tele-practices, and we met each other in the tele-practice space really.
Tell us, what do you do? What are the telehealth services that you offer?
Now we offer a full range of allied health. We have speech and occupational therapy. We’ve added in psychology, physiotherapy, and dietetics to our team.
Tell us about what drives both of you. What gets you out of bed every morning to make the difference that you’re making?
I am passionate about my work and about being an occupational therapist and about rural communities and having access to all the things that we all need. We need great education, health services, shopping, great food and entertainment. When I think about what really keeps us going, it’s really striving to provide the highest quality allied health service that we can to families just like Sue my families.
We get so concerned about families who might have access to some funding because they’ve got family members who have disabilities, and if they can’t find services to purchase, then they might as well not have any funding at all. We really want to make sure that families can access services when they need them, as often as they need them and in the comfort of their own homes. No traveling, no time away from work and school, that sort of thing.
So flexible. And so how have you grown quite quickly? Tell us the rapid growth behind Therapy Connect. What’s taken place there?
Well, Simone and I started doing online therapy. We started developing telepractice and trying to increase awareness about this option for families in 2015. And we adapted the way that we did our therapy from being in a clinic room to being able to do these same things online. And so we did all the work at the start, and once we had proved the concept, we were getting more clients coming through the door, we added more speech and occupational therapists to the team to help us.
We started off working with early childhood intervention. Over time we added working with young adolescents and young adults. Our main focus is on that early intervention age group. So from 0-7, but we do have capacity to work with people of other ages. It’s only been about a year and a half now that we’ve added the psychology and dietetics and physiotherapy to our host of products or our multidisciplinary teams.
Wow. So in addition to all the flexibility you provide your families, there’s that whole gamut of services and one touch point that people can get all of their therapy needs, where they are based.
That’s right, Megan.
And, Simone, in addition to those wonderful benefits for clients and their families, tell us about the opportunities that your style of work has created for the therapists themselves.
Well, I think back to how difficult it was for me to get to work. I was driving 136 kilometres just to get to a practice. And I think about now the way that we work now, where I’m literally meters away from the kitchen and the office. We have this model of working that’s flexible. Our team are based all over Australia, and we’re working from our home offices. I think especially for rural and remote therapists, where they might’ve been traveling long distances to meet with their clients, you can convert that travel time into more productive therapy time. We also have this sense of belonging and connection with a really experienced team.
And the other point that I’d like to make is that working via telehealth gives practitioners an increased chance of being able to just specialise in their preferred area of practice. So you don’t need to see a really broad client group if you don’t want to, as you can narrow the scope down, given that you could potentially have clients from all over Australia working with you.
We’re hoping that the people watching your little video here are interested in telling the story of Therapy Connect. You’re two women who’ve started this. You’re from Regional Australia yourselves. You support people, children, families with disabilities across Australia. There’s the NDIS benefits that you’re providing. People can skip over waiting lists, there’s access for Indigenous remote communities. So many wonderful stories that are tied up with Therapy Connect. How can people get in touch with you if they’d like to find out more and share your story with their communities as well?
Thanks, Megan. We have a 1-300 number. It’s 1-300-757-806. Our website is, www.therapyconnect.com.au, you can go to our “Contact Us” page, and there’s a registration form if you want to refer someone to our service.
We’re always delighted to talk to people about how telehealth works and how it might look for them.
We have a great client services team who are waiting to help anyone who’s got any questions.
Thank you both so much for taking the time to talk more about the background of Therapy Connect, and we look forward to hearing more from you soon.