Why do services cost what they do?

Sometimes people wonder why speech pathology, occupational therapy and other allied health services cost as much as they do. The hourly rates cover many costs in providing the service beyond just wages which we will explain in more detail below.

Professional Staff:

  • They receive a salary that is in line with the market award. Like all other employees they have entitlements such as sick leave, annual leave and paid public holidays, which reduces the annual working days they complete billable work to just 214 days per year.
  • We also have many unseen wage costs such as superannuation, workcover and payroll tax to fund on top of salaries.
  • Professional staff also need to maintain their accreditation to remain registered and provide quality interventions to your children. The costs associated with this include
    • Professional association registration – over $500 per year
    • 4 paid days study leave per year
    • Registration costs to events- often in the $1000’s
    • Supervision and mentoring time with a practice funded supervisor
    • Maintenance of police checks, childsafe training sessions
    • Personal professional indemnity and public liability insurances.

Our allied health professionals do not bill for all their time as there are many tasks they do in their roles that are currently not billed to clients. They currently typically bill between 40-60% of their time on days they are working, depending on their experience, complexity of the child, cancellations and other factors. We are actively working on ways to gain efficiency to try and increase this number. Requirements of other organisations, such as the NDIA, also have a significant impact on our capacity to complete more direct services with clients and the efficiency in which we can do so. For example we aren’t currently paid for many of the hours we spend on hold or trying to contact other organisations.

Other things the professionals need to do in their working week that currently aren’t billed include

    • Planning sessions and gathering resources
    • Developing, maintaining, cleaning and storing resources after sessions
    • Research & reading to ensure appropriate plans are created for children
    • Keeping current with changes in policy, often from external organisations like the NDIA
    • Responding to requests for information from clients and other professionals
    • Seeking support from supervisors to ensure they are providing high quality services
    • Following up with external sources such as NDIA when there are issues to resolve.
    • Development of activities and information for families that are provided in sessions and available on the website take staff considerable time to develop.

We also fund support staff from the fees paid for services:

  • The admin staff to manage phone enquiries, accounts, managing payments for people accessing services through programs such as NDIA, and generally helping to look after client’s needs is all paid from session fees also. A practice the size of Talking Matters, with multiple disciplines has the equivalent of 5 to 6 full time support staff to manage these needs.
  • Supervision and management of the team and the practice to ensure clients are receiving high quality services also comes from session fees.
  • From July 2018 we will have additional costs of thousands of dollars each year to meet NDIA’s quality and safeguarding registration process that we are expected to fund.

We also need to fund our resources and facilities from session fees (fixed costs):

  • Rent, council rates, cleaning, facilities insurances and upkeep of the facilities.
  • Government fees and charges such as business registration fees etc. all need to be covered.
  • Telephone, internet, power, water, consumables such as disinfectants/ toilet paper/ tissues etc.
  • Photocopying, stationary and general office supplies.
  • Software licenses for the practice and maintenance of computer systems so we can have secure client care files cost many thousands of dollars every year.
  • Purchasing the tests needed, many of which cost in the thousands of dollars to purchase and need to be replaced with updated ones periodically.
  • Purchase of the test forms used in assessments. These forms cost up to $10 each and we often use multiple ones when we complete an assessment.
  • We also fund replacing consumables used in sessions (folders, stickers, playdoh, bubbles, shaving cream and much more).

We hope you can see, there is a lot that goes into providing quality services such as those provided by Talking Matters. We do our best to keep the costs as low as we can while maintaining a professional work force to work with you and your child.

How can you help keep costs down for yourself and so we can continue to offer a service?

  • Honor your commitment to attend your appointments, most importantly for your child’s development. If you are unable to attend at a particular time, reschedule as soon as possible rather than canceling.
  • Make sure you follow your clinician’s recommendations around home practice. If you practice regularly with your child, you may finish therapy sooner.

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