What is Umbo?

Umbo is a social enterprise, started in 2018, to connect children with disabilities in rural and remote Australia, to allied health professionals for vital online therapy. Our focus is currently on speech and occupational therapy.

What is speech pathology?

Speech pathology is an allied health service that focuses on improving a person’s ability to communicate, understand and express language. Speech therapists, or speech and language pathologists (SLPs), are professionals who provide this service and support people to communicate to the best of their ability. SLPs assess a person’s speech, language, cognitive communication, feeding and swallowing skills in order to identify possible communicative issues and then decide the best way to treat them.

What kinds of things can speech and occupational therapy help with?

Speech therapy can help with any kind of communication or swallowing issue. Speech therapists help people who stutter, people who have trouble saying or understanding words, people with intellectual disabilities and mental illness who have trouble communicating clearly, and people who use means other than spoken language to communicate. They also help people who have difficulty eating and drinking.

Occupational therapy (OT) helps people with activities that they do in their everyday life. Things like getting dressed, washing, going to the toilet, using hands, mobilising and travelling safely, planning and carrying out chores or jobs, understanding how to count money and create a budget, and understanding how to deal with different sights/sounds/textures, are all things that OTs can help with.

With the right support, all of these things can be done online.

What kind of results will we get from doing online therapy?

A growing body of evidence shows that online therapy is as effective as face to face therapy, and yet, anecdotally, relatively few services are set up to provide it. The industry is just starting to provide online services with newly available technology, so not a lot of providers use online therapy right now.

Online therapy produces the equivalent clinical outcomes and levels of client satisfaction to face to face therapy. This is because the only difference between online therapy and face to face therapy is that it is done through an online platform.

Which therapies might be difficult to deliver online?

Scientific evidence shows the effectiveness of online therapy across a variety of disciplines, including but not limited to occupational therapy, speech pathology, physiotherapy, and nursing. Therapies that may be more difficult to deliver online include positioning assessments and wheelchair prescriptions, although our knowledge of how to achieve all therapy goals online is improving rapidly.

Who are the Umbo clinicians?

Umbo clinicians are trained speech and occupational therapists, living and working in rural and urban Australia. They are all members of their respective professional bodies, and have been trained by Umbo to perform therapy online. They are a diverse mix of people, but many have conditions or circumstances that mean they cannot work in a traditional clinic. Perhaps they have a physical disability, or young children, which means working from home is a far better option. Despite their diversity, there is one commonality which binds Umbo clinicians – the fact that they care about children achieving the best start to their lives, regardless of where they live.

How do I become an Umbo clinician?

We’re always on the lookout for new clinicians to come and join our growing family. You can put forward an expression of interest here, do our training package here, or email us at hello@umbo.com.au.

What technology do you use?

We currently use a combination of user friendly technologies to perform online therapy. WE use Coviu to conduct our sessions, Whatsapp and email to communicate, and even pick up a phone from time to time to make calls. Yes, phones can make phone calls! Who knew?

Do the parents need to be present at every appointment?

No. Umbo uses a key-worker model. A key-worker is the person who makes sure that the person and their support circle works on therapy goals between consultations, that everyone knows what’s happening, and that appointments are made and kept. The parent doesn’t have to be the key-worker, but the key-worker should be at every appointment (as long as the focus person wants that).

Can I use NDIS funding for Umbo?

Yes, if you have a plan through NDIS then you are able to use your NDIS funding. You will need to sign a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with your therapist, and then once that has been confirmed then you can book your first appointment.

What other types of funding do you accept?

Unfortunately, Medicare does not cover online therapy at the moment, however we are hopeful that this will change in the future.

We are also in the process of organising HiCAPS so you can claim your session from your private health fund.

How much does a therapy session cost?

Irrespective of whether you are using your NDIS funding, the costs are as follows:

NDIS Clients(as per current NDIS rates) Non-NDIS Clients
Initial consultation (2hrs) $388 $300
Short Session (30min) $97 $75
Standard Session (45min) $145.49 $112.5
Extended session (60min) $194 $150

What are Umbo’s plans?

The Co-Founders of Umbo recognise that rural families are often the most disadvantaged in any country, in any society. We’re currently focussing our efforts on paediatric speech and occupational therapy, and in Australia. However, we recognise that our model could work just as easily for a number of disciplines, in a number of settings, given the right level of cultural sensitivity.

Our vision for Umbo is big, and we want to talk to you about it if you’re also keen to help us grow.

If that’s of interest, please contact our CEO and Co-Founder, Weh Yeoh, at weh@umbo.com.au.