I was a late bloomer getting into Occupational Therapy (OT). Probably like yourselves, I didn’t really know what an occupational therapist was or did. But once I learned that Occupational Therapy was a holistic approach to health care (which means we look at people as individuals and at all factors that may impact on someone’s independence, health and wellbeing and then find ways to address improve things) – I knew I was hooked.
Below is a quote from the OT Australia website, I think it sums up perfectly what I do and why I love doing it.
Occupational therapy is a person and family-centred health profession, with the main concern being promotion of quality health and wellbeing through occupation (doing/enabling) for all people across their life span.
The Primary goal underlying occupational therapy is to enable people to participate in their specific desired activities within everyday life. Occupational Therapists achieve this by working with people and their communities to enhance their ability to engage in the occupations that they want to, need to do or are expected to do, or by modifying the occupation (activity/task) or environment to enable optimal task/activity performance. (Adapted from OT Australia’s Website, 2017)
I have been working in age-specific OT roles for approximately ten years, the last four with NSW Health. I enjoyed my positions within NSW Health enormously. I worked within the Aged Care Assessment Team and then in the Transitional Aged Care Team. During this time, I learned a great deal about some of the issues and difficulties experienced by our older population and began to see things from their perspective. I learned how to listen and ensure that we were working towards the same goals.
Along with my team, who are truly dedicated therapists, I was passionate about my OT role in enabling our older clients to regain as much independence and productivity as possible, especially after illness or lengthy hospital stays.
Part of my role was to:
- Minimise any ‘at risk’ situations within the home or community
- Provide support, motivation and increased confidence with task achievement and community access
- Recommend programs/activities to increase strength, balance, dexterity and task achievement
- Increase self-confidence after mishaps or illness to regain independent living
- Decrease fear of falling and potential risks of falling
- Provide the information and resources necessary to enable access to social engagement, services, aids, equipment, home care support and respite
So why did I leave a job that I loved? Simply because by the time a person came on to our program, it was often too late to make a significant difference. Many of our clients had already experienced potentially avoidable mishaps, stress, anxiety and dis-empowerment because they didn’t have access to the information and resources that they needed.
My clients or their families/carers would say “I wish we would have known about this service/aid/ modification/program sooner” or “I wish had known more about Occupational Therapy before” Sometimes the biggest complement I could get was “Is there nothing you don’t do?” This is because being a community based OT in aged care is very diverse/variable and I often had to think ‘outside the square’ to address the individual issues which were preventing my clients from achieving their goals.
I felt saddened and frustrated that I couldn’t assist more people. I also wanted more people to gain a better understanding of what occupational therapy is and the important role it plays in providing individual and personalised therapies to enable people to achieve their unique occupational goals to full capacity.
Why do I believe I can help?
Because I take my role as an Occupational Therapist very seriously. My personal and professional goals is to do whatever is necessary so that my clients can reach their personal occupational goals. Sometimes this mean’s thinking outside the square and being creative and sometimes it may mean referring them to other specialists/allied health professionals. Regardless, my client’s have my support until their goals are met.
My aim as a community aged care Occupational Therapist is very much in line with the aims of it takes a Village which is to:
Prevent the preventable,
Enable individual and maximum capacity
Support all those involved while doing so
I am very excited to be it takes a Village’s occupational therapist. I have enjoyed researching and providing you with the information within our website very much.
My role is to support you through any existing or future challenges associated with health and aging and enable you to overcome and or/manage these challenges so you can continue to live the lifestyle you choose for as long as possible.
Contact me at [email protected] for more information or to arrange a home visit. You may also enjoy reading some of my Blogs on the Shelly’s Hints and Blogs Page.
How An Occupational Therapist Can Help Independence!
Ask yourself these questions:
- Are things getting a little bit trickier. Are things harder to reach. Do you get more fatigued than you use to?
- Is your family always worried about you? But you want to manage on your own?
- Has something changed for you, physically, mentally, socially? Do you feel things that you have always done are now harder to do?
- Are you planning to go to hospital but are unsure of how to prepare for it?
- Have you returned home from hospital and can’t quite get back to your ‘normal’ self?
- Have you ever had a fall or mishap that has left you are little fearful to get out and about?
- Is your sight and hearing not what they use to be?
- Are you frequently not hearing the phone or doorbell?
- Is reading getting more difficult?
- Is it harder to get out of your home, in or out of the shower or up or down from your chair?
- Are you in pain, does your pain impact on how you enjoy life?
- Have you recently lost a love one? Are you feeling a little lost? Do you feel lonely?
If some of your answers were yes – well don’t feel bad – you are not alone.
We do experience changes and challenges as we age – changing over time is inevitable.
Sometimes we experience illness and injuries the same as those younger than us do but because we are older it may take us longer to ‘bounce’ back. The older we are the less it is worth taking risks that could result in a mishap.
The important thing to keep in mind when age related changes do occur is that it isn’t an inevitable prediction of lost independence. There are many therapies and interventions that can help you to improve or manage these changes, difficulties or disabilities. The sooner you acknowledge and address these changes the less chance they will impact your future independence.
That’s where I can help. I have much experience in enabling older people to live to their full capacity and I haven’t stopped learning yet!
Examples of ways I have helped others:
- Set up a memory station to reduce stress related to misplaced everyday items such as keys/wallet/handbags/medications
- Implemented strategies to reduce fatigue and shortness of breath when completing tasks both within and outside the home
- Changed the set-up of the home so items were easier to reach or use
- Created a safer and more easily accessible environment within the home
- Increased muscle strength, balance, range of motion and dexterity to increase independence and endurance with tasks
- Assisted and supported all involved during the arduous processes associated with setting up at home care services
- Helped with pain management
- Provided pre or post hospital support
- Increased confidence and ability to access the community independently
- Reduced difficulties associated with vision and hearing loss
- Reduced anxiety and dependence associated with memory loss
- Provided peace of mind for carers and families through regular contact with the person they care for, providing ongoing support and assistance when needed
- Prevented pressure injuries and or assisted in the healing process
- Increased independence with dressing & grooming, meal preparation, personal care and other meaningful tasks
There are many ways I have helped others in the past – Contact me at [email protected] to discuss ways in which I may be able to help you.
A note to the Carers/family/supporters
You are not alone and your role as a carer is invaluable and not only to the person you care for. Most of you reading this probably do not consider yourself a ‘carer’ because we all care for our family and friends in one way or another.
It is when you do not get a break that things start to go ‘pear shaped’. Especially if you have dependents and/or health issues of your own. Many of you may not want your loved one to leave their home but feel fearful that they can no longer manage. Let me help you take the worry away by providing a home visit. With a few interventions premature residential care can often be avoided.
I can also help you if you feel you are not getting the support you need – or are no longer confident providing the level of care that is now needed. Frailty and/or symptoms of dementia can escalate rapidly and vary from day to day. Strategies that worked yesterday may not work today. That is also where can I can help.
Please contact me at [email protected] and tell me how I may be able to help you.
For useful carer resources and support services please go the Carers section of our website and contact me if you can’t find what you are looking for.
I always aim to provide a quality service and to make my fees as affordable as possible. They will vary as each situation will be different. Sometimes, all you will need is a little advice which costs nothing but your time, so please call me and tell me how I can help. There will be times when I can best help by meeting you or the person needing assistance within the home and provide a thorough individualised assessment for better goal outcomes.
Enhanced Primary Care / Chronic Disease Management Plan
If you need help to manage a chronic (or terminal) medical condition such as; asthma, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, musculoskeletal conditions or stroke; you may be eligible for an Enhanced Primary Care / Chronic Disease Management Plan. Through this plan you may be entitled to 5 occupational therapy services each calendar year with Medicare Rebate. To find out more, speak to your GP who is responsible for approving and setting up your plan. You can also find more information by clicking on the link above.
Private Health Funds
There are several Private Health funds that provide rebates for occupational therapy services; such as BUPA, APIA and Medibank Private. Contact your Private Health Insurer and query if you are covered for occupational therapy services.
EXAMPLES OF OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY PROGRAMS
- Activities of Daily Living Programs
- Falls Prevention
- Recommendations and implementation of home modifications, aids and adaptive equipment
- Assistance with set up of Home Care Packages and Government/Private Services
- Dementia Management
- Pain Management
- Energy Conservation
- Medication Management
- Community Accessibility
- Social Engagement that reflects you
- Hospital Discharge Planning