com-Online Speech Therapy Telepractice

Considerations for Selecting a Private Speech-Language Pathologist
By Marnee Brick, MSc TinyEYE.com Co-Founder and Private Speech-Language Pathologist

When you choose to hire a private speech-language pathologist to provide therapy services for yourself or a loved one, it is in your best interest to make an informed decision. This article provides a general overview of considerations for selecting a speech-language pathologist and for ensuring you have a quality therapy experience.

Credentials Check
Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) should be a member in good standing of a regulatory body. This regulatory body is typically a provincial/territorial, state, and/or national organization which mandates that SLPs maintain the standards for providing competent, ethical, and professional therapy services. Your speech-language pathologist (SLP) should hold a current licence to practise in the field of speechlanguage pathology. Besides confirming that your SLP has met the qualifications to practise, a licensure number is often requested by insurance company before reimbursing therapy fees. You can ask for your speech-language pathologist’s licence number and the name of the regulatory body. Many SLP’s carry their licence with them. If you have concerns or further questions, call the regulatory body. If you are unsure of how to contact a specific organization, start with the national associations. They provide contact information for the provincial and state associations.

Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists www.caslpa.ca www.ccaslpa.ca/english/contact/province2asp (links to provincial/territory contacts) 1-800-259-8519 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association www.asha.org www.asha.org/about/legislation-advocacy/state (links to state contacts) 1-800-638-8255

Area of Expertise
When seeking a SLP, be clear about your needs and inquire about the SLP’s related experience. SLPs are trained to help children and adults with communication, cognitive, and swallowing skills. Although the scope of practise is broad, many SLPs gain more experience and develop more expertise in specific areas, such as language
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development versus voice rehabilitation. If the available SLP does not have a lot of experience with your area of concern, have a conversation about how the SLP will acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to help you (i.e. mentorship, self-study) or if there is another SLP that would be better suited to your needs. Furthermore, clarify whether or not you will be charged for the time that the SLP gathers relevant information in order to help you. Keep in mind that SLPs have a broad knowledge base, but that it is common for them to ‘study-up’ on a less familiar topic as it applies to a specific client. SLP’s strive to know the most current, evidenced-based interventions that will help you.

Confirm the Cost
Confirm how much you will be charged, the services you will receive, and when you will pay. When seeking a SLP, keep in mind that some practises are government funded, while others include a fee for service. To find an organization that may not have a charge, contact your local public health unit. SLPs who charge a fee for service must discuss the fees before starting a partnership with you. Your SLP may have different rates for various types of services:            Assessments Treatment Preparation for therapy Analysis of data Group therapy Phone and email communication Travel time and kilometres/miles Documentation or writing reports Cancellation or no-show fees Meetings on your behalf Interest charged on outstanding accounts

Be open about what you can afford and the general goals you would like to achieve through the service. Talk ahead of time about how much direct time with the therapist you can expect, based on what you have budgeted. Do not hesitate to ask the SLP to talk to you about options. For example, do you need a lengthy report or would a quick summary suffice? Do you want a thorough assessment or would an informal screening give you the information you need? Would you prefer long, frequent sessions or would shorter sessions and a home program be effective? Ask the SLP how much time will be required to prepare materials for the sessions and if there are efficient but effective options. SLP’s are required to adhere to their ethical standards. Within the boundaries, they can usually be flexible when providing therapy services. Open communication is the key! When accessing your benefits or insurance coverage to pay for therapy, inform yourself about how much is reimbursed each year. Some companies reimburse only a
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percentage of each session, while others reimburse up to a target amount over a period of time. The company will probably ask for your SLP’s licence or registration number. If you have questions about the cost of therapy services, contact the SLP’s regulatory body for guidance. Many organizations suggest recommended fees for service. I have included two examples:  The Ontario Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (OSLA) www.osla.on.ca 1-800-718-6752 Alberta Speech-Language Association of Private Practitioners (ASAPP) www.asapp.ca 780-988-2217

To learn more about reimbursement or coverage in the United States, visit: www.asha.org/public/coverage/

Know Your Rights
SLPs are bound by the Code of Ethics, By-Laws and policies of their association. You can view this information on the organizations’ websites. When you begin a partnership with your SLP, you should be aware of your rights. It is common practise for SLPs to talk to you about the following topics (This is not a complete list, nor does it mandate that SLPs must review each topic.):  Informed consent to receive services – You agree to services by giving your verbal or written consent. The SLP may talk to you about: o o o o o   Information about the proposed services Risks and benefits of receiving or not receiving services Possible alternatives to the proposed services The opportunity to withdraw consent at any time Ensuring you understand the information to which you are consenting

The Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA) supports that clients generally have full and complete access to the contents of their file or record upon request How your information will be kept confidential and protected, including where it will be stored and for how many years
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 

If, when, and how your information will be shared, including information that the SLP might request from other people related to your care Your reasons for contacting the SLP and how your challenges might be impacting your quality of life...what would you like to change or improve?

In Canada, you do not need a referral from a doctor to see a SLP. Speech-language pathologists are regulated by the Regulated Health Professions Act. This allows you to access health care professionals of your choice. Some insurance companies may require a doctor’s referral to reimburse services. Doctors can recommend speech therapy services and often exchange information with the SLP. Likewise, your SLP may refer you to a specialized doctor or SLP, such as an ear nose and throat doctor or a SLP who is part of a cleft palate team, for example.

Proximity, Parking, Personality, and Possibilities
When considering the time and cost invested into participating in a therapy program, it is important to set yourself up for success. If you will be driving to the sessions, consider the proximity to the location, the travel time, and how that will work with your schedule for the long term. Next, will parking be expensive or accessible? If the cost of parking is an issue, talk to your SLP about receiving a temporary parking pass. In regards to personality, let your SLP know if you or your loved are more comfortable with a specific type of interaction. For example, some children may react positively to a SLP who has a bubbly and animated personality, while others may feel overwhelmed or shut down. Finally, consider the possibilities for scheduling the sessions. Do you need a specific time, such as late afternoon or noon hour appointments? SLPs often have very full schedules and will appreciate your flexibility when scheduling your appointments. However, if you do have a choice of SLPs and if all else is equal, consider selecting a SLP who can offer appointment times that will increase the likelihood of your regular attendance.

Keep in Mind
Once you select a SLP, you begin a partnership that is focused on achieving your goals. SLPs really appreciate your regular attendance or ample notice if you need to reschedule. Your SLP may provide you with strategies or a home program to review between sessions. Put serious effort into these programs as they can help you to maintain your progress and help you to reach your goals more quickly. Consider jotting down some notes between sessions so you can offer your SLP examples of challenges or achievements related to your goals. Finally, if you have any concerns regarding your
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SLP, talk openly with your SLP. SLPs appreciate respectful communication and will work hard to resolve your concerns. Congratulations for talking a step forward and pursuing a partnership with a speech-language pathologist.

Where to Start
If you are unsure how to locate a SLP, consider the following options:         Check the yellow pages Call the local public health unit Ask the local school or call the school board Ask your doctor Ask a Friend Contact the regulatory bodies listed earlier in this article Universities that train SLP students usually have a speech therapy clinic for the public Try the internet o www.caslpa.ca/english/profession/find.asp (Canada) o www.caslpa.ca/english/contact/province2.asp (provincial associations) o www.asha.org/proserv/ (Canada and the United States) o www.tinyeye.com o www.stuttersfa.org and click on Referrals o www.helpwithtalking.com (UK) o www.speechpathologyaustralia.org.au (Australia)

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About Marnee
Marnee Brick is a registered Speech-Language Pathologist and cofounder of TinyEYE Therapy Services, a company which provides Speech-Language Pathologists to school districts through online speech therapy telepractice. Since starting in 2005, TinyEYE has helped children all over the world and completed over 15,000 online speech therapy sessions.

1-877-846-9393 www.TinyEYE.com


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