Occupational therapists are qualified health professionals who work with people of all ages and abilities to do the things they need and want to in all aspects of life, such as taking care of oneself and others, working, volunteering, and participating in hobbies, interests and social events. Occupational therapists call these things “occupations”.
The primary goal of occupational therapy is to enable people to participate in the occupations of everyday life.
Occupational therapy is a client-centred health profession that involves ongoing assessments to understand what occupations are important to you, any current issues you may have in doing them, and understanding your goals. Occupational therapists will then work on any or all of the following to ensure you can participate in the occupations you need and want to do – enhancing your own personal life skills, adjusting the environment you do your occupations in, and adjusting the occupation itself.
Occupational therapists also help people to manage and live with long-term (chronic) health conditions, like arthritis, diabetes, and cancer to name a few. Occupational therapists are experts in the relationships between what people do and their health and well-being, and work with people to help make every day living easier.
Occupational therapists assist people to manage ongoing symptoms and prevent complications by:
- building their knowledge and skills
- finding new ways of doing activities
- changing the environment to suit their needs
Occupational therapists can also prescribe, if necessary, devices and therapy equipment to help you do the activities you want and need to do. They will make sure you can use the device in the best way to meet your needs. This means that you will get a total solution and not just a product.
What does an Occupational Therapist do?
Occupational therapists work with individuals of any age to promote and enable effective participation in the occupations of everyday life. Occupational therapists work with people who experience difficulties in these areas for any reason, and are present in both physical disability and mental health services.
The occupations of everyday life include:
- Activities of daily living: Self-care activities such as showering, dressing, grooming and eating
- Household and community functioning: Home maintenance, driving, budgeting, shopping and community mobility
- Education: Activities which allow a person to participate effectively in a learning environment
- Leisure and play
- Social participation: Interacting positively with others in the community
- Work (paid and unpaid): Participating in employment and volunteer activities
Occupational therapists are also able to assess and recommend assistive technology and/or environmental modifications that will assist individuals to engage in the occupations of everyday life.
Occupational therapists can be found:
- Working with children
- In acute care
- Working with people with mental health needs
- In rehabilitations settings
- In injury prevention and management
- Working with older people
- Working in the NDIS
- And in many other places