The following is a case study of Rene van Loggerenberg, an occupational therapist based in Blairgowrie.
We chat with Rene van Loggerenberg, an occupational therapist about what occupational therapy is and everything private practice management related.
What made you decide to become an occupational therapist?
Okay, so I’ve been in private practice for 15 years now. I’ve worked in a variety of different private practices also in remedial schools. And at the moment, I’ve got my own practice in Johannesburg. I must admit that during my matric year, I was still very indecisive about what I wanted to study. And then my father actually said that he would imagine I would make a good occupational therapist. And at that time, I had no idea what an occupational therapist was so I had to read up about it quite a bit.
I also attended an open day at the university. And it was when I went to observe an occupational therapist working at a special needs school with a nursery school. That’s where I really felt that I would want to pursue this field. What really made sense to me then was to see that she helped a child while the child was still having fun, it wasn’t a bad experience for the child, but still very beneficial. So that’s when I decided that that I would want to be an occupational therapist.
What made you go into private practice?
I think having worked in many other practices and seeing how people do things differently. I just decided that I think I’ve got enough experience is now to start a private practice and do things the way I would want them to be done. So it’s something I’ve always wanted to do eventually, it also gives a therapist a bit of free time in terms of planning their own time. But I just wanted to make a difference in children’s lives and do things the way I wanted to, to be able to do them.
Were there any challenges that you faced when you started out in private practice?
Starting your own practice actually comes with a lot of administration. Which is something you don’t always realize if you work for someone else. What I did find challenging starting out, was how important it was to be aware of all the legal obligations and regulations that one has to comply with. Especially in the healthcare professionals where you have to comply with rules from the HPCSA. And all those kinds of legal obligations are constantly changing, and you need to stay informed and keep up to date.
So just an example, that I found challenging is the recently introduced POPI act. And since occupational therapists work with the private information of minors. We need to really make sure that we comply with all those regulations. And in terms of other challenges, as I said, the administrative duties that are involved, as well as finding the correct venue. As I’ve mentioned before, sensory integration therapy needs to be done in quite a large environment to be able to provide all those sensory activities and to make them safe.
How do you keep up with all the legal changes
Yes, so I mainly work with children. And I have a special interest in working with children who are classified as late talkers. So that can be because of any reason. And Corinne Moray is a very experienced speech therapist in this area, she also works a lot with cerebral palsy children, children on the autistic spectrum, etc. So I really look up to her, and I can learn a lot from her. So she’s a person that I usually follow.
How long have you been in private practice for now?
Yes, I must say, our professional board OTASA really helps a lot with keeping us up to date. They do provide a lot of courses And webinars as well, especially since we had to go into lockdown. The whole COVID that happened. OTASA has really been there for us and helped us stay on track with all the changes and all the new obligations that we were that we had to comply with.
What advise would you give someone thinking of going into private practice?
Somebody who’s still in school having to decide what to study, I would definitely, say, if somebody wants to work with people, that’s a very important thing. And if they want to make a difference in someone’s life, that really is two of the biggest things. I would also recommend or suggest to somebody to go and observe an occupational therapist. Obviously, there would need to get consent from the patient first. But that’s what really opened my eyes to what occupational therapy is. Being able to see somebody work with a child and being able to help them. So that’s what I would, suggest to somebody who’s deciding what to study.
And then for someone who is thinking about going into private practice. It is really a nice way to manage your own time. Being able to spend more time with your own children to have your own private practice. However, there’s a lot of administration involved, there’s a lot more that people don’t always there’s realize. Like having to do your own billing, and everything that comes with that. Also be being able to work with the medical aides and understand how to manage their claims.
So it’s quite important, which helped me, in the beginning, was to have all those things in place. And things like having an effective billing system makes things easier. Also, to have a support system of other therapists in private practice to, help and guide you. I wouldn’t have been able to do this on my own without the support of others who were already in private practice. And that definitely made a big difference for me.
If there had been a checklist that you could have used before opening your practice would that have helped?
I think that would definitely have made a difference. Like you said, have a checklist of what to do first and all the things you need to consider before actually opening your own practice. That would definitely be very helpful. Like I said I was lucky enough to have the guidance of other therapists already in private practice that helped with it.
However, I don’t know if everyone is as lucky when they are considering opening their own practice. Also, I’m in quite a big city where there are a lot of other people and resources available to help. Whereas a therapist in a small rural town might not have all of that in place. So your perhaps something like a checklist and look at this first and then this and then this. That would definitely be very helpful for anyone who wants to start their own practice.
Do you think you’re at the stage where actually, everything seems to work seamlessly and works well?
Yeah, then we have to adjust to those. But like I said, before, just it helped before I started actually running my practice just to have all the administration tools in place. Like the billing system, making sure which way I’m going to have all my written notes, whether they’re going to be on paper or on an electronic system. Those kinds of things made it really difficult.
For me, I must say, at the moment, the biggest struggle for me is just time management. That’s quite a big thing in private practice, being able to fit in all your clients. And also, with COVID regulations, being able to leave some in between all the sessions in order to clean and sanitize all the equipment. That does prove to be a challenge at times. Then just being able to find the time to complete things like the report and invoicing and all of that, that does tend to take time, I would say that’s the biggest challenge for me at the moment.
Does the report writing take alot of time?
It does take a lot of time, the assessment itself usually takes two to three hours to complete. And then after that, it takes quite a lot of time to do all the scoring of the tests. And then also to interpret the results before you are able to actually give the feedback to the parent. So that takes time. And then there is the typing of the report, as well.