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When people hear ‘occupational therapy’, one of the first things they usually think about is assistive technology and home modifications. But there’s so much more an Occupational Therapist (OT) may be able to offer to help you achieve your NDIS goals.
Jessica Francis, Care Squared’s National Operations Manager and an Occupational Therapist, sums up the OT role as “we enable people to do every day things”.
In many cases, this can mean making recommendations for equipment, from large items like wheelchairs to smaller implements such as an adaptive fork for someone who has difficulties gripping.
OTs may also suggest changes to a participant’s living environment, such as a hand rail near the toilet or an entire bathroom remodel to increase the participant’s independence in their daily life.
In other cases though, assistance with daily living can encompass a much broader range of activities.
Cooking, self-care, cleaning, taking a bus and more
“Participants are often surprised to learn about some of the areas where we may be able to provide support,” says Jessica.
“There’s really no box you have to work within. We go out into the ‘real world’ and we look at the kinds of daily activities the participant wants to, needs to or is expected to do within their life.
“Then we look at ways we can help them to work towards these goals.”
Jessica says it’s about taking small steps. And each step enables the next step.
For example, a participant may be learning to cook so they can improve their ability to live independently.
“An OT will assess and analyse strategies to implement with the participant, based on scientific research and clinical knowledge. These might be related to a person’s body, brain, psychology, interpersonal or general skill base.
“Using our analysis, we break down the goal down into several smaller goals that feel achievable.
“These might include finding a recipe, writing a shopping list, understanding quantities, planning and taking a trip to the shops, doing the shopping as well as actual cooking skills.
“Our strategies can then empower a participant’s wider support network to also work with them to achieve their goals.”
Creating meaningfulness in people’s lives
Care Squared CEO Amanda Lacey, also an Occupational Therapist, says occupational therapy can seem deceptively simple.
“It may sometimes feel like we’re just undertaking really basic tasks with participants, but of course everything we do is evidence-based and backed by science.
“Over time, these small tasks can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life.
“Plus, our collaborative allied health approach means our NDIS participants may benefit from accessing a range of supports such as occupational therapy, psychology, physiotherapy, speech pathology and more.”
Jessica gives another example of the role an OT might play in providing care for a participant who has mental health concerns.
“These symptoms could be leading to that participant staying indoors and avoiding social situations. So the goal might be getting out of the house each week,” she says.
“An OT might enable the participant to create a routine; set smaller, more achievable goals; and assist the participant to implement strategies to use the routine and have a positive experience in the community.”
These strategies might include learning the value of money, managing social interactions, managing symptoms of anxiety or the scripting of assistive equipment.
“We had one participant say to us recently ‘Since I’ve been seeing you, I’ve got a bit of happiness back in my life’, and that’s a big win.”
Get in touch
If you’d like to learn more about anything in this article, or to chat about how our collaborative allied health approach can help with your NDIS goals, please get in touch with us here at Care Squared.
You may also be able to organise to talk to one of our occupational therapists via video call.