Interview with Ryan Ebert, Director at Health 2 You

Episode 8 of Allied Health Podcast is brought to you by Health 2 You. Health 2 You is a Victorian-based organisation delivering home and community Physio and healthcare services, treating a variety of conditions for private clients, those undergoing hospital rehabilitation following surgery, NDIS participants, TAC, My Aged Care, and other support bodies.

Health 2 You

Speaker You’re listening to Allied Health Podcast, talking all things Allied Health with your hosts, Danielle Weedon, physiotherapist and Clare Jones, occupational therapist.

Danielle Weedon Today’s episode is brought to you by Health 2 You. Health 2 You are a Victorian based organisation, delivering home and community physio and health care services, treating a variety of conditions for private clients. Those undergoing hospital rehab following surgery, NDIS participants, TAC, my aged care clients and other support bodies.

Clare Jones We’re joined today by Ryan Ebert, director and co-founder of Health 2 You and physiotherapist by background. Thanks for joining us Ryan.

Ryan Ebert Thank you very much for having me.

Clare Jones Ryan, it’s a really interesting time for therapy in general at present, particularly when it comes to the NDIS and aged care sectors, can we start with you giving our listeners an overview of your background and how, when, and why Health 2 You is established?

Ryan Ebert Yeah, thanks, Clare. Definitely an interesting time in terms of therapy with all going on. So, my background is as mentioned at the start, physiotherapist. Graduated ten years ago now, which is starting to make me feel old.

Clare Jones Don’t feel old yet, Ryan. Try 20 plus years!

Ryan Ebert That’s it. But we’re in the double digits now, so that will be fine. But no, I’ve been in the health care space for about a decade, which has been fantastic. I’ve been really lucky to do a lot of different roles. I started as a physio, probably like most kids who go and do physio who played sport, I was like, I’m going to be the physio for the North Melbourne Football Club having a very good season! I was actually lucky enough to do some work with them and do sports and all of that stuff. And while I loved it, it didn’t kind of hit that real fulfillment piece. I found myself early on working in aged care, working in private practice, working in occupational health, just kind of doing a little bit of everything. And then started an occupational health business which went which went okay. And when we started a couple of clinics in Melbourne which was subsequently acquired, and then I went and have done some roles in corporate with Bupa in Australia and some other organizations and have gone to London as well to do some stuff there. And doing my MBA now at Cambridge University. But the thing that I kind of fell into was this thing around aged care and disability. So, I did some aged care work and then I was running one of those corporate roles was all around when NDIS was starting to come and a multidisciplinary team and everything. And while that in the corporate setting didn’t work and they kind of wound that up because we just hadn’t cracked the right way to do it because it was so early on… I saw this huge shift that was happening towards home health care. And then talking with our fellow co-founder Luke, we both had had clinic businesses and there’s got to be a way to bring health care to people’s homes and especially in such a rewarding space like the disability space, the aged care space – how we can impact people’s quality of lives is huge. So low and behold, we literally founded a company a month before I got on a plane to the other side of the world. And so we started building our team. We started with one OT and now we’ve got a dozen people with two sort of clinic sites doing operations all through Victoria. So, hundreds of hundreds of people, which is just a delight to be able to be part of.

Danielle Weedon That’s great. We speak to clinicians day in, day out and have done for years, but the biggest question we’re having people call us about especially private practice physios – I would say in the sort of last two years with COVID lockdowns and different things – they want to know what physios can expect as part of their role within the NDIS. So are you able to give us or our listeners and a bit of insight into what they can expect to be working as a physio in disability?

Ryan Ebert Yes, certainly. So we’re multidisciplinary – we’ve got OTs, Speech Pathology, AHAs and Physios. But physio in particular in the NDIS is interesting and it’s like all spaces in the NDIS. Whether we like it or not, there’s paperwork and there is a lot of it. It’s a big scheme and there’s a lot of people involved and there’s a lot of liaison that happens to coordinate the care and rightly so, because these people have a health care team that that physio needs to work with. And that’s not just other allied health professionals or other medical professionals. That can be their carer, that can be there, that parent, that can be their child depending on the age of that person, that can be their support coordinator. That can be a variety of administrative people, local area coordinators and so forth. So one thing that we have to work with on our team is just being comfortable knowing that there will be, I guess, that care coordination side and that paperwork side alongside just the physio. And whilst that adds some complexity to it and inevitably usually we’re dealing with highly complex people both from a physical and diagnostic side of things. But equally, you know, especially in the last two years, it’s been really challenging for a lot of these people, like isolation, mental health, much as all of us have been going through. So in this space, the other thing that physios can do, physios find themselves doing and we talk about with a lot of our team is, how do we use movement and exercise? And whether that is literally ten sit to stand exercises or walking somebody to go and get a coffee, which we all kind of take for granted. But in this space can be the highlight of somebody’s week, which is where it can be so rewarding. How do we how do we do that? That also then just helps that person feel like they’re going to get a smile for the day, they’re going to get cared for. That we’re probably having some impact on that psychosocial element because they’re just getting up and moving. And we know that movement is so coordinated with that. So physios working in space is very different from the private practices. I’ve got my 30 minute appointments back to back. I’m coordinating, I know my patient, I’m working on their neck pain, back pain, etc. towards whatever that needs to be. There’s a longer time that they’re spending with the client. Sometimes they have to be very adaptable where you go in with a plan and the client’s just had a really bad day or that spasticity playing up in a certain way that you’ve got to completely adapt your entire treatment plan. And then there is that added additional piece of how am my coordinating care into this whole person’s support team? And that’s where I think it does differ from that private practice space. But equally we find that it can be really rewarding.

Clare Jones And it really comes down to goal focused therapy, doesn’t it, Ryan? And you can be so much more creative in someone’s home environment and out in the community in terms of focusing on what they really want to do and making the most of that motivation, in terms of incorporating the physio sort of things that, you know, physical activity into activities that actually are meaningful to them and that they want to do.

Ryan Ebert Hugely. I mean, so much of this is around not going clinically, you know, how do I get, you know, an extra ten degrees in a hamstring? How do I do this? The person wants to do whatever they want to do. There’s many ways to run it and the good thing about this is you can get really creative. I’ve seen physios that are posting in our sort of wins channel on Slack, which is fantastic because being in a community space, it’s great, but also sometimes you can feel a little bit disconnected from people, being out in the community. So showing awesome things like people getting out and about on a day, hanging up the washing, lots of making food etc. So you know, there’s a lot of stuff and if you think about it, there’s a lot of rehab that you’ve put into cooking, especially through rehab, hand rehab, upper limb rehab, that person’s goal is I would like to make pancakes in the morning. Okay, cool. Let’s work out how we’re going to do that. So you’re right, it is all around. And sometimes as physios we’ve got to turn around and go, I’d love to, you know, clinically get extra ten degrees. I’d love to see this move that way or achieve this timed up and go whatever test work I’m looking at. But it’s marrying that into what does that person want to do and get out of this.

Clare Jones Absolutely, absolutely. And how is Health 2 you looking at the NDIS and aged care space to really improve clients daily living and get the most out of their treatment?

Ryan Ebert It’s been an interesting couple of years because obviously the space has got a fair bit of attention. The space has been quite a challenge with COVID, and I think everybody working in the health care space has been really juggling that. But one of the things that we kind of set out to do was always to bring health and care to where people most need it. We thought we’d be mobile only. Obviously getting into the community as much as we can, all of that kind of stuff. But what we’ve started to find is, as you said, there’s in people’s homes. But then there’s also getting people out of their home and into the community doing what they do. And we have actually started to see some real value and need in having people come to a space. So what we’re really looking at, at the moment is how can we innovate and improve on the spaces? How do we create almost like a Health 2 You new home, where we can invite our clients to come to our home and do some therapy with them in sort of a simulated kind of be that a kitchen, a laundry net, a living room or something like that in a clinic, because a lot of the stuff can help, this like assistive technology and all this equipment and that kind of thing. But so many times we will go out and we think it will help, whereas if we can invite them into our home and go, let’s just try here. Okay, that works. Cool. Let’s take this piece and take it to your home. Give it a go. Let’s try it there and sort of really getting this this cross pollination or cross collateral sort of situation where we can utilize the best of having an onsite premise as well as continually going out to our clients. So that’s probably the thing that we’ve been surprised with kind of setting out, going this we don’t want, the brick and mortar clinic, we don’t want that sort of stuff in this space, we want to create lots of autonomy. We want to create lots of flexibility for all of our people. Equally, the therapists are going, you know, I’m loving having two days. We’ve recently got a site in Epping, so they’re like, I’m loving coming in for two days. And I’ve got that not two days on the road, but people come to me and our I can get through a lot of that paperwork. I’m in an office rather than running between appointments, doing phone calls in the car, and we can organize and so forth. And then I’m working with my clients nearby this space so I can kind of have lunch with the team there. And then I can go and see Sally, or I can go and say Sarah, I can go and see Glen in the afternoon. And so we’re really trying to look at how do we make it great for the clients, but also the therapists, which is a massive challenge at the moment.

Clare Jones We’re really seeing therapists enjoy the benefits of having some, you know, clinic-based time and community time because it can be intense working out in the community quite autonomously. And I think for your junior therapists in particular, it’s nice to have the opportunity just to learn by osmosis, by being surrounded by other therapists and just listening to what’s happening over lunch, you know, clients that people have just seen or going to see, and problem solving ideas.

Ryan Ebert Interestingly, seeing a number of people. And I think this is a great idea because five days a week, which is where I sort of got out of the clinic game of just treating Monday to Friday, can really be exhausting. We’re starting to see, and we have a number of team members who just do part time with us and then they do part time in like a proper sports clinic. And they’re saying that the variety is fantastic. And I do think like, you know, from a professional standpoint, equally myself, I think if I didn’t have variety in all the roles that I did, when we would have moved on from physio. And we know that the physio career span is something that the APA is working hard on increasing. And I think that variety of a little bit of community, but not five days and little a bit of practice, but not five days, can start to reach a nice sweet spot.

Clare Jones And there’s so many transferable skills between the two. It really does enhance both roles, the knowledge that you take from one to the other and vice versa. It’s all beneficial.

Ryan Ebert Hugely. And I mean, the thing that I talk about with our therapists is like primarily in the community space, the number one goal is to make that person feel cared for. To get them moving and to get them smiling. Now, I know as physio, it’s common to think, but you know, clinically I want to do this. And this, and this and more of this. And all of that stuff is super important. But we try and remind our therapists, especially more junior ones, if you keep that at the forefront of how do you bring a smile to this person’s day, create movement and make them that bit healthier? You’ll be winning in the community game. Simple as that.

Danielle Weedon And also, probably tying into our next question, the role of a physio in community disability is so broad in terms of the types of clients they’ll be seeing, that taking that approach to it is a really smart way to approach it because there will be some really complex clients, or there may not be, but across disability, it’s pretty broad. So you sort of touched on it a little bit in what they can expect as they roll. But what would a day in the life of a physio look like?

Ryan Ebert Yes, good question. I think and you know, as an organization, we’re on that transition journey towards kind of getting more, like let’s say there’s five days across a week, two days on a site with some gym gear and equipment and stuff that they can really work with. And then a couple of days in the community. But really we have like a lot of flexibility within our team. We know this space can be really challenging in terms of the structure that’s set up. And we really try and go, look, if you want to start at ten And there’s so much variety like you can be working with some kids before school, and then in an aged care home at 11 to see somebody, having a long lunch in a cafe, doing reports, paperwork, so forth, and then seeing a couple of clients in the afternoon. So probably the big thing is that there is so much variety in what a normal day looks like. Lots of flexibility in terms of how we do it, but also kind of as an organization setting us up to be like, there’s a lot of case management and there is some, you know, by the letter of the system, you could for every email be building 5 minutes blocks here, a five minute phone call there, and that kind of thing. And we really have tried to move away from that and go anything that’s 5 minutes, you don’t even touch because we want to look after care and we just think it’s part of the role. Anything that gets a little bit more to that sort of 15-30 we get can get involved. But really setting autonomous goals, like seeing 4 or 5 clients a day, in the way that works for you, anywhere, any time and any place. And we kind of create that. We sort of just lean into that variety that this client pool gives us, as you said. But what we are seeing is that, yeah, there is that desire for a little bit of routine, which is where we’re working on right now.

Clare Jones It really offers flexibility too, for the people who are balancing family commitments and work as well, doesn’t it?

Ryan Ebert The beauty of community is that you can get real nice flexibility there.

Clare Jones And the thing is when you’re working with people in their home environment and out in their community, life starts at, you know, six, seven, eight in the morning. So there’s always an opportunity to be delivering – as long as it suits them – therapy right across the early morning to till late at night.

Ryan Ebert Yeah. And with we’ve got great stories of like, you know, the Victorian night markets during winter, clients goal is really to be able to catch public transport and get to that. So we had therapists that were taking them out at night enjoying the VIC markets. It was Wednesday night, and then the next day them sending a photo of them having their brunch at 10 a.m. saying they’ll be on from 11, because they’ve done that night. So I think that, yeah, that flexibility is just really cool. But equally like you do get to do some pretty cool stuff like, see somebody’s face light up going “I went to the Victorian night markets”. And then soon you’ll be saying, now you can try do it yourself. And then you get that message or photo from that client and just think, my week’s great.

Danielle Weedon Goal achieved.

Clare Jones So what do clinicians at Health 2 You love about working at Health 2 you, Ryan? What are the big positives that you hear?

Ryan Ebert Good question. I’ve eluded to a little bit, we do have a big promotion of any win, big or small. We want to hear about it. So be it, the clinicians getting that win or somebody else in the team. I think the flexibility is something, but we have heard from our team that whilst the flexibility is great, a little bit of that routine juggling paperwork between everything else, like messages, phone calls, that sort of thing. The other big thing that we’ve kind of really pushed probably in the last six months that I think we’re starting to get right now as well, is obviously in the current macroeconomic environment, prices going out, travel is going up, all that kind of thing. So, we’ve really worked on how do we give, you know, say you Claire, your Monday and Wednesdays, you’re just in the western suburbs and then your Tuesday and Thursday, you’ve just got that northern suburb. And then as we’re building more and more of those bases as well, how do we kind of connect you with them and sort of really work on getting clients, so we’re minimizing that travel point. And again, this helps with that flexibility. And then the other thing is we’ve got what we call a Health 2 You carer of the month. So we send out a survey and it’s a really short one, just if you see any team member displaying any one of our four values and why. And it could just be I was having a really rough day and Clare brought me a coffee and just made my day much better, and the afternoon was so much better with that client. Great. So we actually started this in lockdown, and we started by the winner would receive a hamper of local Victorian goods. So, we also wanted to support those guys because they would all be doing it pretty tough as well.

Clare Jones Yeah, it was so important, wasn’t it?

Ryan Ebert And it still is exactly where we sense of all of that. And the months they weren’t able to get an amazing hamper bag, they’ll get the bit of self-care for themselves. They can choose which is a massage or a float or something like that. Or the third option that we’ve now introduced is – which everybody seems to be taking this option – is that they can donate that on to their client so they can turn around and say, I know Danielle has been having a rough time, I know she’s been making some phenomenal progress, let’s send the hamper to her.

Danielle Weedon That’s a great idea. Such a great idea.

Ryan Ebert They love that part. Like seeing that in our wins channel is just amazing.

Danielle Weedon And what about any other benefits of working for Health 2 you? Professional development allowances or supervision? What sort of other benefits are

Ryan Ebert Yeah, it’s a good question and I think like most businesses at the moment, you know, it’s a challenge to how do we meet the need for the workforce that we know at a macroeconomic level has a supply and demand problem. So, in terms of professional development, we have professional development pot as a team and that is a pot of justification as opposed to a pot of the limit. And what that means is if there’s a course that you see of value, and we can see that would add value to you and the business, we’ll pay for it. So there’s no limit in terms of we really try and get our team to be very active in their professional development and all they have to do is say, can I do this? And yeah, their reasons why. And on some of those big ones we then play back an an internal pay day. So we get the double benefit for the wider of the team. So, from a professional development allowance point of view, what we find is on average, we’re spending more than what we’d be if we just said here’s a thousand a year. The other thing that we’re pretty big on as a business, is so obviously we get we give people an allowance to accommodate, you know, travel, phone use that kind of stuff on top of wage which we’ve calculated the award rates and automatically at the base we apply a loading to that, because we always want to be paying above awards, allowances come on top of that and so forth. But the one thing other thing that we do is so we have a mental health day every year. So, we basically kind of double dip a little bit with the Victorian Melbourne Cup where the Monday we just as a team we just turn around and go which is having it off. So we give everybody a four day weekend, that’s it, irrespective of their leave. And we carbon offset all of our teams travel as well as we sort of estimate obviously it’s all estimates but as well as their personal travel. So as a business, in effect we go carbon negative for our business activity. But kind of accounting for, you know, say your personal travel outside of all your work travel, we will go carbon neutral and basically offset. And last year I think we planted the equivalent of 50 tonnes worth of carbon, of trees. And it’s that sort of a big thing that we are in the community space. We know that travel is a piece and we know that we can be doing better with that in, in that like our sites are powered by renewable energy, but yeah I’d love to have a fleet of Teslas just rolling around but yeah, that’s where we’re going. But yeah, for for now I think it’s a nice little perk that as a business, we are carbon neutral.

Clare Jones Fantastic Ryan. Well, thanks so much for your time today. It’s been great to chat about Health 2 you and all the creative things you’re doing out there, especially in the in the NDIS space. It really is an ever changing market at the moment for allied health professionals. So it’s always great to hear what’s happening out there.

Ryan Ebert Thank you very much for your time.

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