Beryl Smith and Caroline Dennis,
Sensory Smart OT
Sensory Smart OT was established by Beryl Smith 10 years ago. Originally from South Africa, she opened her practice in Port Macquarie to help children with a focus on sensory processing issues, particularly autism, cerebral palsy and other disabilities.
She started her practice at home doing everything herself and, after a year, found she was struggling with putting in systems and procedures. At that stage, she began growing her team and started using practice management software – but there were a lot of inefficiencies.
When Beryl came across Power Diary five years ago, the team was initially resistant to the new software, but within a few short weeks, everything had changed. “We are regularly amazed at what Power Diary does for us and the features that keep being added. With Power Diary, we have been able to revolutionise the way we do things and streamline everything. We can track what the therapists are doing, which makes it easier for everyone to do their jobs, and keep the relevant parties informed.”
Beryl’s visionary leadership is marked by her many improvement-focused ideas and a creative, flexible approach to helping the children that come to her practice. She’s always asking “what changes can we make to do things more efficiently and effectively?” This is, in part, why Power Diary has been such a success for the practice because it’s always improving. The philosophies of Sensory Smart and Power Diary are similar as both see the process of improvement as continuous; a series of small changes. Practice manager, Caroline Dennis notes that Beryl’s approach is collaborative, “at lunchtime around the table, and in staff meetings, she’s always very team focused and communicates her ideas for improvement, asks for input and takes her team on the journey. It’s been a very important part of the success of her business.”
Caroline has been working on the admin side of Sensory Smart for nearly six years and uses Power Diary to support the therapy team. She will often log in to find out if Power Diary has a feature she needs and more often than not find what she’s looking for already available. In particular, she notes that “I get responses so quickly when I ask for help or want to find out more about a service. The customer service is brilliant.”
Caroline went on to say that:
“I talk to everyone about Power Diary. When people ask me ‘How do you keep track of everything?’, I tell them it’s Power Diary, so even the clients hear about it! It’s been huge for us.”
For clients, there have been noticeable improvements with Power Diary. As Caroline shares, “the SMS communication tool is brilliant because people are always on the move. Often our parents are overwhelmed and just doing the best they can. SMS reminders take one more to-do off their list. Also, Beryl’s priority has always been to create space for kids to connect, and we often have kids and parents groups. We can let people know about what’s happening at the practice with the bulk email functionality. It’s easy to segment the client list if needed and easy for parents to respond.”
Power Diary has also contributed to appointments booked. The practice has been using the software for nearly five years, and they’ve noticed that it’s taken the pressure off the therapists to sell and keep clients informed. Now, flyers can be sent out to the mailing list, and clients respond straight away. “It’s made a big difference to our bookings, and we get an earlier commitment,” this helps our therapists with the preparation of their sessions.
She goes on to say “For the therapists and the admin team, it’s easy for them to check their notes when they’re planning for an appointment, appointment booking itself is simple, and invoicing and payments are no longer a paperwork nightmare.” Beryl says the top features that have led to improved efficiencies include the note templates such as the questionnaire done by an OT on intake. Also, the notes section which can be sent straight to client or school, keeping everyone in the loop and avoiding duplication.
During Covid 19 Lockdown, the switch to working from home was relatively seamless because we had already transitioned to Power Diary format online years before. The therapists were all familiar with the software, and commencing Teleheatlh with clients was an easy alternative option for us. The additional feature of STRIPE payments created a whole new way of client payments that started during Covid, but has continued to change the way we get paid sooner.
Caroline’s advice for practitioners who have a system that’s not working for them is:
“Don’t hesitate, sign up. This will work for you regardless of the size of your practice. From bookings to payments and note-taking, it’s all there. You just need to have a look around for yourself.”