Our blogger this month is Principal Physiotherapist, Tania Materne. At such a significant milestone, she was asked to reflect on the establishment of this local Barossa business 20 years ago…
The year1997 was a watershed year for me. I had turned 30, spent 6 years at the Royal Adelaide Hospital and 4 years in private practice at Sportsmed SA and for Peter Roberts, gaining experience in many areas of Physiotherapy. I’d also spent many years as Physiotherapist to the Australian Men’s Wheelchair Basketball team and other disabled teams, travelling Australia and the globe (an ongoing passion of mine).
So, what to do next? Buy a practice, move to the country, meet a local and settle down to have a family? Of course!! The little practice in Second Street sounded the perfect place to have a quiet part-time job in the idyllic wine region. Right? Right!..... Until it went from 2 x half days to 6 x full days per week in just a fortnight!!
20 years in the Barossa Valley has brought many changes, both personally and professionally. As eluded to, I met Mick, a local man and married in 1999. We had 3 children, Arran, Abby and Kane, while running the business at arm’s length at times. In fact, the business offered the choice of doing just that.
Volunteering is another passion of mine and I have always been involved at some level within the community, from the kindy or school, committees and Boards, to sporting clubs and Community organisations. It makes for a busy life with many hats, but it is never dull – as long as you remember to check the right hat at the correct door!
Professionally, I have a special interest in Upper Limb and Hand rehabilitation, and more recently have become an Accredited Practitioner in Headache Management for the Watson Headache Institute. This has been particularly rewarding, immersing myself in the practise of relieving headaches and Migraines; sufferers will appreciate the benefits of that!!
While the business has grown massively since its beginnings, the Mission has always remained the same. The priorities have always been quality, time, professionalism, knowledge and experience. Barossa Physiotherapy offers a point of difference to other clinics because it offers focussed treatment and education of clients with a hands-on approach and a commitment to education of our clients so the responsibility for healing remains theirs, empowering them.
None of this is possible, of course, without the staff Barossa Physiotherapy has enjoyed over the years. It has been a special gift that we’ve been able to employ the best skills and experience and be able to keep the staff so longevity and continuity is something we always offer. This could also be considered the biggest challenge; to employ wisely, to foster an environment that challenges staff and offers flexibility. Our Motto; Work to Live – not – Live to Work.
The changing economical tides have proven the biggest challenge, however, as consumer confidence wains with media negativity or political changes. The Global Financial Crisis changed the landscape of business forever, I feel, as large companies changed the way they contract work, iconic businesses collapsed in the Valley and individuals lost confidence and were less willing to part with money! It means we need to constantly be on the front foot with new ideas, ensuring the business is adaptable to change and offering the point of difference to other practices.
Above all, though, the greatest joy in the business for me is the people. Everyone has a story and everyone loves to tell their tale! People are sources of education, challenge and entertainment. It is what makes coming every day fun.
So what does the future hold? I see the business constantly evolving in a society that is maturing in its knowledge of itself and its bodies. People’s expectations are rising, and rightly so. Gone are the days of prescriptive medicine and the ‘wand’ effect. We expect our clients to be active partners in their rehabilitation, and not to accept mediocrity for themselves. Health Coaching is going to be an important aspect of our treatment sessions. What do patients expect? What do they want from themselves? How can they achieve those goals? What aspect of THEIR lifestyle is impacting on their rehabilitation? It is exciting and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.