Jessica Smith has a physical disability which limits her mobility and causes significant pain and fatigue.

She is also a mum-of-three children who also need therapy but always being able to make it to the in-person clinics was challenging. When she missed the appointment? Cue: The pangs of mum guilt.

Jessica shares her story and how children across the country can now access much-needed health services from the comfort of their own home.

Working and parenting with a disability can be a massive challenge. I have significant issues in my mobility, pain and fatigue.

Like all parents (or is it mostly mums?) I have my fair share of “mummy guilt”. Guilt about what I cannot achieve, and whether I like it or not my disability adds to this list.

One of those things that really hurts has been not being able to regularly get my children (nine-year-old twins and 13-year-old) to key appointments they have needed over the years; physiotherapy, occupational therapy and/or speech pathology.

I knew from my own work as a speech pathologist that I was not alone and that many families struggle to get their children to therapy appointments (for various reasons) but that didn’t lessen the guilt. Frustratingly, I knew there were ways such as online therapy that were well researched and as a big and sparsely populated country Australia should have been leading the world, but we weren’t.

Jessica says she has had her fair share of ‘mummy guilt.

As my own disability progressed I found it more and more difficult to work in a typical office environment – while JobAccess provided some of the equipment I needed such as a standing desk I still required flexibility in shorter days and frequent rest breaks.

I found the policies and procedures on flexible work places and disability accommodations didn’t translate well into the real world. At the same time many of my colleagues were leaving or considering leaving due to the inflexibility of hours, long commutes, limited ability to work from home and/or needing to follow a partner’s work such as in mining or defence forces.

Would I need to leave too? That was a heartbreaking thought. I love what I do, I didn’t wish to give it up. It was about then that I heard about my current employer Umbo – a company at the cutting-edge of providing new ways of therapy including online appointments – who are passionate about seeing all Australians (particularly those in remote or rural communities) getting access to therapy services, who valued people with a disability, and who see difficulties and problems not as walls or barriers but as opportunities to find new and innovative solutions.

Having access to online therapy services means I can continue working in my profession with the flexibility I need and my kids can also get access to the therapy services they need regularly.

Online therapy saves us significant travel time (and that fight about getting into the car and where their shoes are), it also allows my other children to continue with their own activities and homework rather than trying to keep them quiet and busy during their siblings’ appointments.

Most importantly to me it means that I’m able to be present in the appointments; learning how to best help my children all from my own home.

Overall I’m grateful to know I’m not alone in struggling to get to an office for therapy appointments and that I now have access to online therapy which provides a researched and practical solution for my family.

With 20 years of experience as a clinician, Jessica also delivers speech therapy herself. Due to her disability, Jessica has been looking for a work environment that enables her to work from home and on her own schedule. She has recently found this at Umbo, an online allied health services provider which specialises in delivering speech and occupational therapy to families in rural and remote Australia. From the comfort of her home and with the flexibility of her own schedule, Jessica is helping children across the country access much-needed health services.