For many OTs, working in Australian residential aged care can be challenging because of the “system” and funding and what our role is perceived to be.
I get called “the physio” daily.. and yes, our roles do overlap and I think our jobs are often perceived to be very similar (in residential aged care); which is likely heavily influenced by the funding instrument we are guided by - as this guides a lot of “what we do.”
Now more than ever I am reflecting on our profession and what is at our core. Aged care has allowed me to see so much potential in what OTs can do to make a difference, but has also led me to see the challenges that often get in the way.
The other day I offered a “pain treatment” to a resident and she declined; she didn’t want a massage that day. I could see some dice and Yahtzee score cards hidden under a pile on her dressing table and asked if she wanted a game, she was over the moon I had asked and agreed with so much excitement.
What I observed:
- She smiled the whole game
- She conversed more than I had ever seen
- She didn’t complain of pain
- She laughed, especially when I made her aware that she was beating me
- She used her brain to count and add (mental stimulation... tick!!)
- She worked on her fine motor dexterity skills (helping her to continue to be able to button her shirts and do up zips)
- She helped me (so much sense of empowerment and purpose!!)
- She said thank you about 100 (slight exaggeration, but you get what I mean!) times throughout; thanking me for taking the time out of my day to play her favourite game with her
This. is. occupational.therapy!!
Finding what is meaningful to someone and supporting them to do it.
Now my next plan of attack will be to support this resident to engage in Yahtzee on a regular basis without me having to be there... any ideas on how I can go about doing this?! 💡
Brooke George, Occupational Therapist