We’d like to welcome and introduce new Therapy Manager Kate Brill. New Zealand-born Kate comes to VisAbility with nearly 20 years’ experience as both a physiotherapist and in allied health management. Kate will manage therapists and our Therapy Services and will be based at our office in Victoria Park.
Growing up in Christchurch in New Zealand, Kate moved away from home to study in Dunedin at the University of Otago which ranks in the top 1% of universities in the world.
She has had front-line people facing roles, as well as being part of a wider healthcare team and managing multidisciplinary allied health groups. She’s visited VisAbility on a number of occasions with her previous work.
“I’ve attended allied health meetings at VisAbility. Everyone is so friendly. It’s clear that the clients have a great rapport with therapists and staff. The atmosphere is so warm and welcoming. I feel privileged to be part of the management team.’’
Kate Brill – Therapy Manager
Kate also has lived experience of vision impairment having been born with congenital nystagmus. It means she lives daily with blurred vision, has difficulty focusing and has limited peripheral vision and depth perception.
Her personal experience of living with vision loss means that she can closely relate to the challenges felt by many clients.
“I credit a wonderful ophthalmologist and early intervention for helping me to lead an independent, full life.’’
Kate Brill – Therapy Manager
From therapist to manager (and New Zealand to Australia)
Kate had a number of roles in New Zealand before relocating to Australia in 2008.
“I worked in a rehabilitation hospital that specialised in neurological and cardiopulmonary conditions. I also spent time practising in a regional child developmental team supporting families and their children adapting to life with congenital and acquired disabilities.’’
Kate then found her niche working with children and adults who had acquired brain injuries before moving into a senior role as clinical manager for a large, private rehabilitation company.
Describing herself as very organised and analytical person with a head for numbers, the role in clinical supervision suited her perfectly. It encompassed problem solving to improve operations day to day.
Her first position in Perth was as an assistant manager working for a private company offering workplace health solutions and rehabilitation. Then came the call to Therapy Focus – one of the largest providers of disability services for Perth. Kate was thrilled at the offer of the job as executive manager for Children and Youth Services.
At Therapy Focus, Kate was part of the management team that led to the organisation achieving ISO 9001:2008 Quality Management Systems which highlighted the effectiveness of the organisation in meeting customer requirements. This was at the time of the shift away from block funded services to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (link opens in new window).
Opportunity knocks in consulting
While Kate was with Therapy Focus, her husband was seconded to one of Shell’s flagship’s projects in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Geoge in Korea. With the blessing of Therapy Focus she went with him. She continued to offer consulting services to the organisation and this included mentoring managers in the WA disability sector while enjoying the rich cultural and social fabric of the Malaysian capital. She came back eighteen months later to have her first son.
Kate’s a volunteer board member on two community organisations. Now her family of three is five, with the arrival of two more boys.
Kate says her skillset aligns perfectly with the role.
“VisAbility is a much-loved organisation, long established and highly regarded. The organisation takes on board feedback about service provision. The focus groups are a wonderful idea.’’
Kate Brill – Therapy Manager
The future of VisAbility and therapy services
There has been great change in funding and service provision over the past few years because of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. It’s giving choice back to clients and with it greater pressure on not-for-profits.
“There are lots of challenges for not-for-profits now because they have to be more commercially aware. It means as an organisation we have to listen to clients more than ever. In my role as therapy manager I need to work with our clients and their supports to shape the way we develop and provide services to meet their needs.’’ outlines Kate.
Advanced medicine and better living conditions mean people are living longer than ever before and want to retain their mobility.
“There’s a higher risk of sight loss as you grow older, so the demand for services from VisAbility will continue to increase,’’ she says.
“We’re also witnessing better levels of early intervention. It means babies, toddlers and children are receiving a diagnosis of eye problems a lot earlier. Opportunities to expand our delivery of therapy across all age ranges is huge. We need to look at innovation, and operational practises to continually improve the way we serve clients as we move forward.’’
A role model for us …and her children
Kate is now settling into her role since starting early February. Her three young boys were as equally as pleased as she was with her new appointment.
“Our next-door neighbour was a Guide Dog (window opens in new link) boarder and her Labrador was called Ellie. My boys would always want to pop around to visit Ellie because she had such a lovely temperament. I think they’re hoping now I work at VisAbility they will get to see more Guide Dogs.’’
Watch out Kate that could happen as many of our staff members become Guide Dog boarders themselves!