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What does an OT Occupational Therapist do?

The following blog is written by Peninsula Health Occupational Therapist Lauren Wood.

My name is Lauren, and I am a Grade 1 Occupational Therapist in the rotation program at Peninsula Health. I have been a part of the rotation program since I was a new graduate, and have just completed my fourth rotation in Community Health as part of the Domiciliary (DOM) Care team.

Before I completed this rotation, I thought I knew the basics of home modifications. I have worked in subacute at The Mornington Centre in previous rotations, and as part of that we would do home assessments to make sure our patients would be safe to go home. We would recommend a range of interventions – from equipment, such as a shower stool or bath transfer bench so patients could wash themselves safely, to grab rails at stairs so patients were at lower risk of falling, to strategies such as cooking dinner in the morning when patients had the most energy.

These interventions and experience has benefited me greatly in rotating to DOM, but I have certainly learned there is so much more that Occupational Therapists (OTs) can assist with and provide. I have had the opportunity to complete scooter, wheelchair, bed and mattress assessments, as well as complex home modifications. I have been able to prescribe clients with equipment that directly meets their needs and impacts on their daily life, which is so incredibly satisfying. The great part about working in the community is that you work with clients on their day to day and long term goals.

One of the great things about this field is that there are always new and more innovative ideas to assist with independent living. For instance, a new area of learning that I worked in during this rotation was vehicle modifications. There are so many incredible modifications that can be done to cars to increase independence; from one handed controls on the steering wheel, to car boot hoists to lift scooters and wheelchairs into the boot, to removal of seats so that someone in a wheelchair can still drive a car; the sky is honestly the limit with vehicle modifications. I’ve been really lucky to see some vehicle modifications during this rotation, and learn more about this area.

As I reflect on this rotation, my main learning that I would like to pass on to others is that OTs always support clients to be as independent as possible in their day to day lives. If there is a goal a client wants to achieve, there’s always a way to reach it.

There are so many ways in which an OT can help people, and I don’t have enough room to write about it all, but I’ve learnt so much more about OT from this rotation that I will take with me into the future. It’s such a rewarding career, and I’m so proud to be an OT and positively impact people’s lives.

It’s National OT week from 21-27 of October 2018, spread the word and help us celebrate!