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The important role of occupational therapy in aged care

27 May, 2019

It may be one of the lesser known allied health professions, but there are many ways occupational therapy can support seniors to live in their own home for as long as possible.

A support worker gently places her hands on an elderly person in a caring manner.Also known as OTs, occupational therapists used to be most well-known for helping people who had been injured at work to get back on their feet. Nowadays, occupational therapy goes far beyond this and OTs are becoming especially popular for the work they do with seniors who want to stay independent.

What do they do?

Despite the growing popularity of occupational therapy, some people still don’t have a clear idea about what OTs are and what they do.

Simply put, occupational therapists are qualified health professionals who work with people of all ages, including in aged care​. A occupational therapist's main goal is to enable people to participate as fully as possible in everyday life. They can assist with everyday life tasks such as taking care of yourself, staying active and mobile, and ensuring your home is safe.

What services do they provide for aged care?

In general terms, OTs manage ongoing symptoms and prevent complications of old age by finding new ways of doing activities, building their knowledge and skills, and changing their environment to suit their needs.

OTs offer a broad range of services to seniors, tailored to the individual needs of each client. Their support may include: helping to develop new skills in self-care, self-management and home management; home modifications to make the home more suitable in older age; assessment, customisation and oversight of equipment or mobility aids; client advocacy and onward referral to relevant services.

5 benefits of occupational therapy in older age:

1. Assessing your needs

OTs can also be very helpful in maintaining participation in the meaningful activities of life for elderly people. This can involve things like public transport assessment and intervention, driving assessments, and functional assessments and interventions in daily activities like kitchen and daily living tasks.

2. Support everyday living

OTs can assist seniors stay in their homes for longer by assisting with achieving optimum function and independence in everyday activities, fall prevention, strategies to maintain a meaningful daily routine and managing the home environment. This includes finding appropriate mobility aids and equipment for the individual's mobility needs.

3. Making your home safe

Ensuring a more accessible and safer home is also something OTs can assist with to enable seniors to continue participating in the activities of everyday life. This may include integrating equipment to help mobility like installing shower rails or helping with things like joint protection techniques and work/rest routines.

4. Rehabilitation

OTs can help clients regain or enhance their daily lives after events that can occur late in life such as stroke or hip replacement. This can include prescribing and educating people and carers in how to use equipment like walkers, to assist their function.

5. Supporting memory for dementia care

Memory loss can develop later in life and is another aspect of aged care that occupational therapists can assist with via personalised support. For instance, occupational therapists may work to support memory by placing everyday items in an area of high visibility, deploying memory games, or using tools and strategies such as computers notebooks and calendars to improve everyday life.

Occupational therapy at Focus Home Care

If you have a Home Care Package, the cost of an OT assessment, and the cost of any equipment or home modifications recommended by the OT to stay mobile, safe and independent at home, will be covered by your package funds.

Your Care Manager at Focus Care will arrange the OT assessment for you and work with you to find the most cost-effective solutions to any recommendations made by the OT.

For further details on in-home aged care, speak to our friendly team today.

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