This collection of ‘they need to knows’ was compiled from several recent conversations I have had with mothers, all of whom have children with special needs and busy therapy and school programs. A couple of items on the list surprised me, the others are the same old chestnuts that business owners still need to crack.
- We are nearly always time poor
Many of us have frantic home situations and we also have part or full time jobs. Time is tight. Although we really want to follow things up, finding extra time to search online, phone agencies, complete applications, visit suggested centres or toy stores is not easy. These are the tasks that don’t always get done, leaving us feeling stressed and guilty.
- Please give us all the options so that we can decide
Sometimes we would rather pay more for private assessment and or intervention if it is quicker and more effective. When referring us to other agencies, please provide us with the whole picture and include ALL the options so that we can decide. Eight or nine months on a wait-list to then receive less than ideal care is incredibly frustrating. To then hear that we could have achieved better outcomes in a matter of weeks in the private sector, at a cost, is even more frustrating. Our child, our finances, our choice.
- Make payment and receipts quick and correct
The technology is readily available to support credit card, Medicare and Private Health Insurance claims and payment. Please make sure you have this technology so that we don’t have to spend additional time claiming online, posting in claims or visiting the stores to claim back benefits. Please have good admin systems in place that get providers numbers and medicare codes correct the first time. Discovering this in the Medicare office is annoying. Lastly, from our perspective nothing beats a super friendly, helpful and knowledgeable admin staff.
- Tell us the costs upfront
A sign on the waiting room wall about gap payments is not the time and place to discover that an additional payment is required. For this to then be cash only, is annoying and probably means that we will need to cancel the appointment there and then. ‘Cash only’ anything is just not possible nowadays. Flexibility with your cancellation policy is appreciated, our family lives are always unpredictable. We need to be told about all the fees when we first call, including the fees for attending meetings and writing letters and reports. We get that it still involves your thinking, travel and time, it just helps to know in advance. If you can please send all the details out in writing, that helps too.
- Please do what you say you are going to do
We need therapists (and everybody else) to do what they say they are going to do. Whether it is a call to a teacher, equipment supplier, medical professional or an online search, we are depending on you to work with us and complete these tasks. We can’t wait for these tasks to take weeks and weeks.
- Be honest
Please, if you feel that you are not the best person to work with us and our child, then tell us immediately. Your honesty will be respected and if you can suggest who we should contact that would be much appreciated.
- Get a good cleaner
We look forward to visiting those businesses that have beautifully clean and thoughtfully decorated waiting, meeting and therapy rooms. Toys need to be clean, well maintained and complete. It makes us feel as if you care about your clients. Floors, furniture and soft furnishings need to be comfy, age appropriate and clean too. And then there’s the bathroom, we love a clean bathroom too, and it helps to have spare toilet paper and tissues on hand and a step stool for smaller children to reach the taps and basin.
- Waiting areas
We spend a lot of time waiting. It is great to have a bit of room, some complete and interesting toys, books and a locked door to the street. It is even better when appointments are staggered so that there is only one family in the wait area at a time, this reduces the need for apologies and toy negotiations. A reminder too about the need for sound proof rooms. It is uncomfortable to hear other people’s stories, let alone have others tune in to ours.
- Please be punctual
Our days are often planned with military precision. And you know better than most that our children don’t always wait and transition well. Please stick to session times. If you are running late an SMS prior really helps us organise ourselves and make best use of the wait time. Our child needs to be in the best shape possible for your therapy session.
- Ask if we need it explained again
We may not have been told everything, we may have not understood, or we may have forgotten. Please check in with us to find out where we are up to with our understanding and learning and ask if we need more, or even less information. Our brains are usually pretty full.
How often do you survey your clients to seek honest, warts and all feedback about your services and premises? Anonymous questionnaires and SurveyMonkey are probably the best ways to capture this information. Several of my private practice coaching clients have found the feedback process to yield exceptionally useful data. We need to really listen to our clients. Then the private practice magic happens when the feedback is acted on and positive change implemented. So, what is your client feedback plan and when will you implement it?