The changing face of Occupational Therapy in Aged Care
Posted on August 21, 2023
A decade ago, many customers saw their occupational therapists as the “rail lady” (or man!). Someone that came to their house to pop a rail on the wall and a ramp at their front door. While technology has moved, the role of the occupational therapist to promote an older person’s health, wellbeing, independence, and safety at home has not necessarily changed. What has changed though are perceptions and knowledge on just how life changing an occupational therapist can be to one’s everyday life.
Advancements in technology in recent years have allowed OTs to offer more and better tools and new ways of thinking to clients. Growth in technology has grown alongside community awareness around role of the OT in aged care, and specifically in Community and Home Care.
That increased awareness means customers are more proactive to seek and willing to accept OT services. This in turn plays a significant role in keeping older people happy and healthy, living independently in their own homes connected to the community they love.
Juniper’s team of OTs, working alongside other Allied Health professionals including Juniper physiotherapists and podiatrists, as well as nurses and support workers, support older people in their home and community in many ways, including:
- Enabling clients to live in their homes for longer by helping them be independent and stay safe;
- Completing cognitive screenings;
- Assisting with falls preventions strategies and falls risk mitigation;
- Providing advice on pressure care management;
- Prescribing equipment such as daily aids and wheelchairs;
- Home modifications (minor or major) to maintain safety and allow clients to carry out a variety of tasks independently.
This broad scope of work brings a focus on functional retraining which aligns with Juniper’s reablement approach.
Reablement takes a person-centred, holistic and inclusive approach that supports an older person to achieve any goals they may have through participating in daily activities or implementing home modifications. The aim of reablement is to improve their physical ability or other functioning, or improve or maintain their independence so that they can continue to do meaningful activities either at home or in their community. This in turn reduces their need for services in the long-term.
OTs are vital in placing reablement at the forefront of Home and Community Care in Australia.
With this approach, Juniper is looking for great outcomes for older Western Australians who choose to remain living at home for as long as possible safely. Essentially, we want a great quality of life for our customers. A life well lived, on their terms.
To do this, Juniper is currently growing the number of staff to minimise wait times for an Allied Health service. There is a concerted effort to increase the Juniper Allied Health team’s capability to ensure best outcomes are delivered.
It’s no secret that Allied Health professionals are in high demand in Western Australia.
The Aged Care sector, and more broadly any sector requiring more staff, is currently facing high demand for Allied Health services, in particular OTs.
Working in aged care can bring many rewards for OTs, who can not only make a real difference in the lives of older people by helping them achieve their goals and maintain their independence, but they also build connections with their clients over a period of time as opposed to that impersonal ‘transactional’ experience in some other settings.
While the usual pressures of workload, ongoing paperwork and meeting compliance standards are present, this is offset by the flexibility, a variety of work and the opportunity to meet and engage with people from all walks of life.
As an OT working in Juniper Home and Community Care, there is a great sense of satisfaction that comes with helping someone achieve their goals, so that they can do the things they have previously not been able to do.
To be able to help the people who have shaped the world in which we live is hugely rewarding, on both a professional and personal level.