When we first commenced services back in 2014, we were seeing clients out of a spare bedroom in Chris and Lauren’s unit. Services were delivered on a Saturday morning with the waiting room in the lounge. Clients were often found on the couch watching ABC4Kids with young Flynn. Whilst it was homely and welcoming, the lines between work and home weren’t always clear.
The Master bedroom was then converted into a more purpose built clinic room and the rest of the home was separated from the clinic space (with a state of the art cotton curtain). We now had a bathroom and a resource room to compliment the better clinic space.
This space worked wonderfully well until young Zane came along in 2016. Poor Jess would be trying to deliver a session whilst a newborn Zane would be crying as only a newborn can. It’s rumoured that Lauren might have even had the odd snoring session during the day after a tough night up with bubs.
And so, it was time for Eat Speak Learn to leave the nest and to stand alone.
We found our new home at Northpoint Plaza in Belconnen, not far from the previous clinic and next door to where Lauren and Jess had worked as practitioners for Therapy ACT. It was a cosy two room clinic on the ground floor, with a sunlight reception space, a large resource room, a very odd shaped team office and an oversized kitchen facility. We had a server rack as big as a fridge connected to a fragile internet cable that wound its way through the kitchen. We had Lion King and Nemo decorated therapy rooms before we discovered that this could really set off our sensory kiddos (we now have very plain rooms in which we introduce the colour slowly). Our furniture and equipment was on brand with our chocolate and teal colours. We had admin support in Herminia and then Tarnie. Life couldn’t get better.
Then we had a growth spurt and welcomed some more practitioners.
We were able to accommodate four therapists in this clinic but our waitlist was growing and we couldn’t help any more people than we already were. At the end of 2017 we moved to a larger space on level one of the same building. The fit-out was enough for us to operate out of without having to do much (winning!). We now had 5 standard therapy rooms, a group room, a team room a massive reception area, a room with a sink that became our ‘kitchen’ and some space for the administration team (Chris still fondly refers to his office here as the cupboard). It wasn’t all rosy though, the lease had a demolition clause and there was every chance that by mid 2019 they would be knocking down the building and we’d have to move again. The building was sold and we began discussions with the new owners on becoming long term residents and giving the space a facelift.
And then we got evicted.
Well, not really evicted, but it was time to move again. Plans changed for the building and our clinic was to become part of a new childcare centre. We scoured the Belconnen area looking for a new home before deciding that Level 2 of Northpoint Plaza was going to be the best fit for our first purpose built home.
The best thing about having a hollow shell to work with is that you can do anything. We played with many designs until we found one that sat right with us. We then altered it another few times until we knew we had it just right. We were able to introduce a self-serve refreshment station for clients. In fact, we’re told our coffee beats many of the local cafes! We finally had a kitchen and flexible group room to deliver a gold standard feeding therapy program. We have natural light pulsating through most of our external walls and we have an innovative lighting system that allows us to change the colours of our rooms and tailor this service to our clients needs. We have been able to go paperless. We have an outside space for the team overlooking the park. There are still a number of things in the pipeline to complete our vision and make the space perfect.
Our current clinic is our home and we do our best to make it feel like home for our clients. We know that coming to therapy can be hard. We will continue to strive to make the physical changes we need to make to ensure that our clinic feels like a safe space for our clients. Here’s the thing though, we know that look and feel will only get us so far. It’s our people that make the space so welcoming. It’s our client support team that greet your child with a beaming smile. It’s our practitioners that make sessions engaging and fun. But it’s also each other. It is often the families that are there in the welcome room together, that are there to support each other in their therapy journeys, that are there to play with each other and most importantly, those that are there to celebrate each other’s wins and milestones. There is nothing more heart-warming than watching a child clap and cheer on another child as they place their leaf on our tree of achievement.