What Our Occupational Therapists Do
Our Occupational Therapists (OTs) primarily work to coordinate equipment (also referred to as assistive equipment or assistive technology) assessments and requests. We also complete home modification assessments and reports to ensure people have safe access to their property.
We operate under the following schemes:
- Home care package clients
- Private paying individuals
Our Occupational Therapists work with adults over the ages of 18, with a special interest in supporting older adults.
About our Occupational Therapy
Our Occupational Therapists are mobile, meaning they visit patients at their home. We visit all types of properties including:
- Rental properties
- Retirement villages
- Shared accommodation
- Group homes
- Residential aged care facilities
Our Occupational Therapists are mindful that each property type will have varying occupancy agreements (i.e. owner-occupied, rented, strata) which is important to be aware of, especially when considering home modifications.
In the event the property is not owned by the participant or the participant’s representative, our team will liaise with property management to discuss the approval of the modifications.
If you have an enquiry regarding assistance with home modifications, it is helpful to let us know information about the property type and who owns the property. This information will help us determine what legislation may apply to the property and respective home modifications.
If you are seeking healthcare for an NDIS participant, please note that Community Therapy is registered NDIS provider and accepts new referrals for NDIS participants that have an agency managed plan, self-managed plan or have their plan managed.
Occupational Therapy Process
Step 1 - When you first call
The first stage of the process is understanding a NDIS participant’s current situation and how our OTs can assist. Commonly we are contacted regarding equipment, in this event, it would be helpful to have the following information available:
- NDIS number, budget, goals and purpose of engaging Community Therapy
- Equipment and/or modifications the participant already owns or hires
- Equipment and/or modifications the participant is looking to obtain
As well as the participant’s general medical history:
- Current medications
- Current medical professional engagements
Step 2 - Our first meeting
During the first visit, our Occupational Therapist and the participant or their representative (or with the assistance of their representative) will review their current NDIS plan. The overall purpose of the first session is to identify goals our OT can help the participant with.
Our OTs specifically address:
- Equipment requirements
- Assessments, equipment trials & reports required for to complete Assistive Technology Requests
- Scope of works, plans and quotes required for home modifications
Th initial assessment then allows us to formalise a service agreement which the participant and/or their representative are happy with.
Step 3 - What we’ll do
Community Therapy’s OTs primarily assist with prescribing, trialing, ordering assistive technology or equipment, as well as assessing and managing home modifications.
Our occupational therapists also perform ongoing therapy, which is commonly functional retraining, rehabilitation and or improvement of functional life skills. For example:
- Upper limb retraining. This is to help people have better function with their upper limbs when engaging in everyday activities.
- Assisting with setting and running task lists and financial budgets
- Assisting with planning and accessing the community
- Assisting with planning and participating in activities of daily living
Our services take a holistic, person centred approach and we aim to improve both the physical and emotional health of the participant.
Step 4 - Ongoing support
Our ongoing OT services will be determined by what has been originally stipulated in the service agreement.
Occasionally the service engagement may only be for the assessment and trialing of one piece of equipment only and there may be no ongoing services required from Community Therapy once the Assistive Technology Request has been completed.
More commonly however, our OTs will provide training on set up and use of any equipment prescribed and review of any modifications that have been installed.
If services are to cease with us, such as in the event the participant moves to another service provider, we provide the participant with all of the information and reports that have been completed by our OTs to date. This will help participants in applying for future funding or engage other therapists in an efficient manner.
If a participant needs to re engage with us in the future, they can simply contact us again and resume our services.
Occupational Therapy FAQ
What happens to my equipment and home access needs if I need to relocate properties?
If you are moving properties and are unsure of the home access and safety of the property, then this is a common reason to contact us.
The participant or representative will re-engage our Occupational Therapists to perform a home access and safety assessment of the new property, this is best to take place prior to moving to ensure the next property is safe to access.
Our OTs can determine what types of access challenges, assistive equipment, assistive technology, or modifications may be required at the next property.
What NDIS and OT specific training or professional development does Community Therapy provide to its staff?
All of Community Therapy’s Occupational Therapists are AHPRA registered and are required to complete 30 hours a year of mandatory professional development to maintain their registration.
Staff also undertake NDIS specific courses on home modifications, prescribing equipment and completing AT request forms for the NDIS.
Community Therapy also hosts in house OT training sessions that are prepared by our senior clinicians.
How many times will your OT need to visit?
The amount and frequency of visits by the Occupational Therapist can vary dramatically depending on what is required (i.e. trial period length) by the participant.
This information will be determined during the first visit and formalisation of the service agreement.
Additionally, the frequency can change in the future, either at the discretion of the participant or therapist.
Any changes to a service agreement are communicated to all parties to ensure everyone is aware of why a change is required.
Do I need a referral to book your OT services under the NDIS?
You do not need a referral from a GP or a doctor or specialist. You can engage with Community Therapy directly to receive funding for our services under the NDIS.
You will need an active NDIS plan with funding allocated to Occupational Therapy under Improved Daily Living.
In what ways do your OTs help with falls prevention?
Occupational Therapy is very important for falls prevention. Occupational Therapists assess the suitability and safety of the environment and make recommendations for changes when needed. With regard to falls, the assessment process will give consideration to aspects such as:
- Accessibility of external entrances
- The presence of stairs and the potential need for handrails or ramps
- The condition of the flooring
- The adequacy of existing lighting
Most falls in the home occur either while moving from one room to the other or when in the bedroom, bathroom, laundry or kitchen, so particular attention is paid to these areas.
How do our senses affect the way we move?
Our senses play a key role in the way we move. The most prominent is our sense of touch, which translates into our ability to walk safely. The sensation of touch feeds information to the brain about where to safely and securely place the feet for steady movement. This information comes from recognising the feeling of pressure and vibration and recognising the stability or flatness of a surface underfoot.
These sensations can be interrupted through conditions such as peripheral neuropathy or proprioception. Peripheral neuropathy, which can be related to diabetes, limits sensation in the lower limbs and feet. Proprioception relates to awareness of the position or movement of the body. This can be diminished as a result of a stroke or by conditions such as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease. Both are examples of conditions that can play a role in changing our senses and the way people move.
Our Occupational Therapists take all of this into consideration in the assessments.
Can you prescribe communication equipment? (i.e. camera systems, intercom, hearing devices)
Our Occupational Therapists can identify and prescribe communications equipment. An initial assessment would include consideration of any communication challenges that may be impacting someone. This would be followed by a discussion of potential solutions that can be trialled in order to resolve the issue.
The role of communication equipment can be useful in many different situations. For example, someone who is having difficulty with speech due to a neurological condition may benefit from text-to-voice technology in order to make speaking with clinicians, family and friends easier.
Conversely, someone who is dealing with significant fatigue may experience typing to be more taxing than speaking and so a voice-to-text solution can be implemented to help make work, study or social communication less challenging.
There can be an emotional component to disabilities, such as someone who is deaf and fearful in their own home. Fear and anxiety is often more of an issue than the practical component. Can you assist with matters such as these?
Living with a disability, or with any medical condition, can dramatically affect a person’s mental health. Assessments conducted by our Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists will include several steps with respect to mental health.
This will often start with simply listening to the person’s story in their own words; this helps our clinicians gain insight into how their situation is affecting them. It will also include assessments that give quantifiable results in order to determine change over time or change based on particular interventions.
Mental health is an important consideration throughout all of our processes and can certainly impact our clinical recommendations.
How does CT maintain awareness of the ranges of equipment available?
Industry innovation is constant within the range of equipment and supports available. At Community Therapy, we remain current with industry advancements to ensure that we can always offer the best available option to our clients. We do this in several ways:
- As part of our organisational structure, we engage a dedicated Occupational Therapy Clinical Manager whose role involves investigating new and innovative equipment options and reporting these to our team
- Our Occupational Therapists attend regular education sessions each year with equipment suppliers to ensure their knowledge is up to date
- We attend industry conferences to discover new pieces of equipment as they come on to the market.
Can you give an example of helping someone with their daily planning?
Life skills are important for everyone, and especially those dealing with additional challenges. The role of an Occupational Therapist includes putting in place strategies that will assist with planning and managing daily or weekly tasks.
In some cases this may be simplifying scheduling processes for medical appointments or social arrangements, or it may be identifying the need for additional support on challenges such as household budgeting.
Do you ever attend a patient's workplace and provide services there?
Yes. With the consent of both the workplace and the client, Community Therapy can visit workplaces for additional assessments. Our Occupational Therapists can assist with ensuring that the work environment and equipment is appropriate and safe for the person to function at work.
A Physiotherapist may also attend in order to assess fundamental ergonomics and to factor in any necessary elements for their regular exercise or movement plans.