Why OT’s are important in community, aged care and NDIS settings!

Why OT’s are important in community, aged care and NDIS settings!

By Samantha Shannahan

Graduating as an OT is so terrifying! We have finished all our study and learnt snippets of different fields, and then comes the deadline to pick a field that we must stick to until the end of time (sorry that’s a tad dramatic). As Occupational Therapists with HCA we can work across several fields. How lucky are we?!

I will focus on the different fields available and how we can make a difference in our consumers lives.


Occupational Therapists are a vital resource for people who want to maintain their independence and live safely within their home environment. We can be the superheroes that prolong their ability to remain at home. Occupational Therapists in the Community field will largely be involved in assessing and recommending home modifications and equipment prescription.

I recently completed a Community referral where the consumer required an armchair assessment. Described comically, he had an incident when he stood up from his recliner and the foot elevation component wasn’t locked in and it basically flung him across the room. I assessed him and determined that he didn’t have the strength and range of movement to be able to operate a manual recliner safely and recommended provision of an electric recliner. This referral was pretty straight forward, and most of them will be.

Generally, when we receive a referral it will outline what needs to be assessed. HCA have plenty of resources/assessment templates on Microsoft Teams that can be used to help! We are also fortunate to have a substantial PD fund which we can use to develop our skills. I would highly recommend our OT’s complete a Home Modification Course. These are generally 2 days and give an in depth understanding of home modifications and Australian Standards associated. 

If community work is something you are interested in please contact: alliedreferrals@healthcareaustralia.com.au.

Residential Aged Care Facilities:

Pending the development of a robotic world… the time will come where we are not able to live independently in our own home. Imagine not having any other option but to leave your family, leave your home, leave your neighbours, leave your pets, essentially leaving your comfort zone. You are then placed in this new setting where someone completes most daily tasks for you. You were once a strong independent individual and now your level of independence is out of your control. I can only imagine that you’d question the purpose of your being.

As Occupational Therapist’s we can change this mindset!

We can give Aged Care consumers a purpose in the form of strategies and equipment to continue living meaningful lives. We can provide adapted cutlery so they can eat without assistance, we can teach them energy conservation strategies so they can dress independently, or we can prescribe a wheelchair so they can continue to attend Bingo. You’ll find the small wins, of being able to put their own shoes on, can be just as rewarding and just as significant to them. I feel so privileged to be able to work with consumers who are at the latter end of their life, and know I’ve made a difference.

Occupational Therapy in the NDIS:

HCA has been working on the implementation of NDIS opportunities following overwhelming feedback from our Allied Health Professionals. We love variety and that’s what we are getting!

As Occupational therapists in the NDIS field we will support people living with permanent and significant disability to achieve their goals to lead healthy and independent lives.

This field will have us thinking outside the square as no two goals will be the same.

For example, my brother Justin (mentioned in intro post), has a goal of moving out of home. Although it is likely he will live in supported accommodation, he will need independent living skills to achieve this goal. Occupational therapists are supporting Justin to prepare and cook meals, complete household chores and purchase grocery items. During his cooking sessions the OT’s are determining what cooking utensils are easiest for him to use, how holding things a certain way may work better, if adapted equipment will assist, whether images or words are easier for him to follow and the list goes on.

To me this is a dream job;

1: because I love cooking

2: because we are completing real life, hands on treatment

I am fairly positive not all NDIS work involves cooking, and not all NDIS treatment will be fun and easy. But I can 100% guarantee that there is no better feeling than being involved in an individual accomplishing a goal that they identified as meaningful to them.

If you would love to complete NDIS work and are already a HCA Allied Health staff member, please ensure you are credentialled. Contact you Regional Manager to find out how.

If you do not work with HCA Allied Health and would like to explore your options, get in touch with us today at: people.alliedhealth@healthcareaustralia.com.au!

Well that’s a summary of the opportunities we have available at HCA and how we can make a difference. I’ll finish with one of my favourite OT quotes. “Medicine adds days to life, Occupational Therapy adds life to days”.


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