There’s much more to Occupational Therapy than assistive technology and home modifications that may be able to help you achieve your NDIS goals.
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Our National Operations Manager to speak at the 2019 National Occupational Therapy Australia Conference.
Every NDIS participant is unique. But often, their goals share common elements. At Care Squared, we have frequently observed that helping people access a range of health supports can help them to achieve these goals.
“Psychology is a good example of a service that many participants and their Support Coordinators may not initially think is relevant for them,” says Brooke Bofinger, National Manager of Partnerships and Development.
“They may be working on daily living and life skills, for example, but they are really struggling with motivation or may have difficulty with learning.”
Care Squared Provisional Psychologist, Courtney Judd, says in these cases the psychological role is often about understanding the barriers that may be preventing participants from progressing.
It is also about assessing participants’ strengths and working within their interests.
“Our care is very much tailored to each individual, but we do absolutely see common challenges where we can recommend a collaborative approach to help participants get the most out of their NDIS funding,” she says.
Catching public transport
The ability to catch public transport independently is one example of an activity that many participants are working towards. It may be part of a broader goal such as the following:
- To have the support to build my capacity to participate in social and community activities and remain safe.
Being able to take the bus or the train can be an important first step.
An Occupational Therapist may be working in the field, literally catching the bus with the participant, showing them how to read a timetable, how to tap on and off, all those sorts of skills.
However, there may be additional barriers like poor social skills or anxiety that are making it hard to make progress. This is where psychological intervention may help.
“We might consider a range of options to help develop language and communication, or reduce anxiety,” says Courtney.
“Our work might involve ‘role playing’ real life scenarios with participants, for example, or developing with them a framework for how to respond in different social situations.
“Knowing what to expect in this way can make it easier for a person to overcome their anxiety or manage social interactions.”
Helping participants to process and regulate their emotions is another common area of NDIS support. A goal might be something like:
- I would like to better understand my sensory needs and learn skills and strategies on how to be able to regulate my emotions.
An Occupational Therapist may help by conducting a sensory assessment and trialling sensory assistive technology to support emotional regulation and participation in daily activities.
Alongside, a Psychologist may work to increase the participant’s emotional vocabulary and recognition.
“For example, we might help individuals learn to recognise symptoms of their different emotions by asking questions like ‘What happens in your body when you are anxious?’ or ‘How do you react when you are upset?’,” says Courtney.
“We might then teach the participant some relaxation skills to help them regulate their own emotions. We’ll also work with a person’s supports and show them how to model these skills and techniques so they can help the participant if they are under pressure or particularly frustrated.”
Self-care and home duties
A third example of a common goal for many NDIS participants centres around self-care and home duties. In a plan, you might see something like:
- I would like to improve my daily living skills in order to increase my independence.
In these cases, an Occupational Therapist may develop a schedule for a participant that outlines their daily activities, like brushing their teeth, taking a shower, eating breakfast, cleaning their house and so on.
But the participant may struggle with motivation and find it hard to stick to a routine
So a Psychologist may assist the participant to develop strategies to overcome these obstacles.
“For example, we might frame up the schedule like a behavioural experiment,” says Courtney.
“We might say to the participant ‘Why don’t you stick to this schedule for a week and see how you feel at the end?’
“If, at the end of that period, the participant does find their mood improves or their energy is higher, that can become a motivating factor in itself moving forward.
“They may now have more energy to also do the things they really enjoy doing, which can have a very positive impact on mental health.”
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 Psychologists via video call.