Frequently Asked Questions

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

Speech pathology 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 kinds 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 as 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.

Do you do therapy with the child, or with the family?

Both! We believe that the most effective therapy occurs when support is given in the environment where the person lives, learns, works or plays. Therefore we work with the family, and teach skills to you or to other supporters, in addition to working with the child. This means you’re achieving real-life goals, rather than just achieving goals in a clinic.

The upside is not only more relevant therapy, but therapy that continues when the therapist is not there. This approach is backed by the latest scientific research.

Which therapies might be difficult to deliver online?

Scientific evidence demonstrates 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 therapists?

Umbo clinicians are qualified 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 their clients achieving their life goals, regardless of where they live.

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 once that has been confirmed you can book your first appointment.

Do you charge for indirect time?

The short answer is yes. For NDIS participants we do charge for indirect time for activities the therapist does outside of a direct session. Such activities including preparation of therapy sessions, development of resources and follow up from sessions such as case notes, emails and phone calls relating to the client. As per the NDIS Price Guide, service providers are able to charge clients for non face-to-face services that contribute to their overall progress. You can read more about Umbo’s guidelines around indirect time here.

Do you charge for administration time?

No. NDIS does not allow service providers to charge clients for administrative time spent processing referrals, getting documentation completed or booking appointments. All of this work is done by Umbo for our clients at no additional cost.

Can I get a refund from Medicare?

There are some refunds available from Medicare for speech pathology and occupational therapy services, however, you need to meet the eligibility criteria and have a plan prepared by your GP. There are different types of plans which have different eligibility criteria (e.g. Enhanced Primary Care Plan,  Chronic Disease Management Plan, Team Care Arrangement). The plan will normally be for a fixed number of sessions, and will allow you to claim a rebate of $55.10 per session. Speak to your GP to find out if you are eligible.

If you already have a Medicare plan please let us know so that we can ensure you are matched with a therapist who has a Medicare provider number.  You will need to pay your invoice first and then make a claim directly from Medicare for the rebate.

Can I claim on private health insurance?

Yes, if you have private health insurance that covers therapy services you can make a claim. If you plan to use private health insurance please let us know so we can ensure you are matched with a therapist who has a provider number. You will need to pay your invoice first and then make a claim directly from your insurer.

How do I make a complaint?

We believe that we can work with you to resolve most issues you may have with the service, however, if there is a problem that you wish to take outside the organisation, you may prefer to contact the NDIS Commission to discuss your complaint on 1800 035 554. You can also download the NDIS Complaints Procedure brochure here.

You can make a complaint directly to us via this process.

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 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.

Please check out our pitch video here and get in touch if you’re interested in being part of our plans