Sue and Simone both live on farms in regional areas in different states in Australia. Sue, a speech pathologist and Simone, an occupational therapist were introduced by a rural and remote allied health network as a by-product of their mutual interest in telepractice – or online delivery of therapy via video conference. At the time they met, they both drove very long distances (hours) to provide speech and occupational therapy services in clinics, and knew that there was much disconnect between what was available already and what the needs of remote families were actually requiring. They knew that in rural and remote Australia families had a lack of choice of service providers and families were waiting far too long for the speech and occupational therapy services they actually needed.
The online world was changing the lives of people living in rural and remote Australia. Sue and Simone could see that with their lived experience of isolation, that if they could work out ways to deliver effective therapy supports online via telepractice, then TELEPRACTICE, would have the potential to extend the reach of their services to families that needed therapy supports. Families could access therapy when they needed to without long waits or driving long distances.
They realised that the emerging evidence consistently suggested that telepractice appeared to be as effective as face-to-face services and was highly acceptable to consumers. Having only met in person 3 times, but regularly via videoconference, Sue and Simone agreed that they were so aligned in their practice approach and thinking that they joined forces and in August 2015 Therapy Connect was formed.
Therapy Connect is unlike anything else offered in the country with their reach now expanding internationally. Thinking outside the box, they soon worked out how to adapt their sessions and resources to support an online delivery of their services.
It was all about finding smart ways to make telepractice work for the families they would work with. Session plans are developed, so families know what is needed before the sessions happen. Sometimes resources are gathered, sometimes mailed or sometimes they use of digital games or Apps via screen sharing to work on therapy goals. The support offered to these families is second to none.
Families were highly satisfied that their children achieved functional outcomes across a range of goal areas and across contexts home and school while working with Therapy Connect.
Sue and Simone consider Telepractice is a legitimate choice for disability services. Telepractice has to potential to equalise access for those that can’t find services.
These two rural entrepreneurs are changing the face of how Speech Therapy and Occupational Therapy can be delivered. Telepractice is here to stay and Therapy Connect is a growing business with 8 practitioners now supporting our children with learning difficulties.
Learn more about Therapy connect here.