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A day in the life of an occupational therapist

Published 23rd October, 2017
Written by Advanced Clinician, Occupational Therapy, Emily Greenwood

Our occupational therapists work with people living with disability to support them to participate in everyday life.

To celebrate World Occupational Therapy Week and give us a glimpse into all the varied and exciting work our OTs do, we’re sharing “a day in the life of an OT” from one of our advanced clinicians, Emily Greenwood.

8.00am: Once I arrive at the office I start getting prepared for my day and making sure I have everything I need for client visits. As I’m based at Durham Road School I’ll spend some time confirming my appointments with the classroom teachers and looking over individual treatment plans and therapy goals.

I also use this time to catch up on some admin, answer emails and check in with my colleagues and team leader.

9.00am: At 9am I have my first client for the day. Today it’s a home visit for a 2-year-old with fine motor delays and low muscle tone. We use play therapy to work on his postural strength and control, as well as his hand strength.

Using motivating play positions such as standing at a table and pushing through his hands to play with play-dough is such a great way to develop the arches in the palms of the hand and shoulder strength. This is so important for further fine motor skill- development later in life, such as doing up buttons and holding a pencil. It’s a win-win as my client is having so much fun, but I’m also getting him to engage in an age appropriate therapy activity which will help him to achieve his developmental mile-stones.

We always take the time at the beginning or end of an appointment to talk to the parents about what we’ve been covering, and how things have been tracking at home. By working with parents to let them know the strategies we’ve been using, children are able to receive support throughout the week, not just during their therapy sessions.

10.30am: Once I’m back in the office, I write up my notes from the session I‘ve just had and start planning for the next one. I see this client every week, so between appointments I look over the progress he’s making, evaluate how he’s progressing towards his goals and brainstorm what we can try next week.

11.30am: My second client today is a 19 year-old girl transitioning into employment. We work together on updating her resume with her recent volunteer work, practising her interview skills and using the Transperth journey planner. We also spend some time consolidating the skills she’ll need in her new office like organising her workload and using certain computer programs.

12.30-1.00pm: Lunch time! Back in the office I have lunch with the rest of my team. We’ve been celebrating Occupational Therapy Week and today we had a team lunch.

1:00pm- 2:00pm: As I’m based at Durham Road School (an independent public school catering to children with a disability) I have a lot of clients with physical disabilities such as Cerebral Palsy.

This client is 15 years-old and has all 4 of his limbs affected, so he mobilises in a wheelchair. Wheelchairs can be grown as people grow, but normally after 4-5 years it’s time to get a new one.

Luckily I’ve spent my free time over the last few months meeting with the family, completing the assessments and trials for different wheelchairs and comparing the quotes from the different suppliers. I use this time after lunch to sit at my desk, write the necessary reports and submit the wheelchair application to the NDIS to obtain funding for my client.

2.00pm-3pm: I’m off to do a school visit for an eight year-old girl with autism. A key part of our role with school aged kids is to provide strategies that promote inclusion in both academic and extra-curricular activities within schools. Today we’re focussing on increasing her attention span in the class room. I use some visual supports and some fun movement breaks to assist my client to stay on task.

3.30-4pm: Once I’m back in the office I finish up my admin for the day, filling out client cases, responding to emails and preparing as much as I can for tomorrow.

Occupational therapy is an exciting and varied role. I love that I get to work with a wide variety of people every day and assist them in enhancing their ability to live the life they want to live.

For more information about how Therapy Focus Occupational Therapists can help, click here.

therapist and boy using sign language

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