October 27 marks World Occupational Therapy Day. Since its launch in 2010, it has become an important date to promote and celebrate the profession internationally.
This year’s theme is ‘What OT means to me?’ It’s an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the care and professionalism occupational therapists (OTs) deliver to their clients and the benefits of occupational therapy to a person’s health and wellbeing.
At The Benevolent Society, we currently have just over 50 OTs working across our Disability and Child, Youth and Family Services.
We say thank you to them today and every day for the incredible work they do. We spoke to some of our valued OTs about what the day means to them…
“It’s a time to celebrate the work occupational therapists do, and to educate others on the roles occupational therapists have in supporting people to live a happy and meaningful life,” Kiah, an Occupational Therapist, who works in Adelaide & Mount Gambier, SA, said.
Elise, a Senior Occupational Therapist from Orange, NSW, added: “It’s a chance to educate the wider community about what an OT actually does and also to reflect on just how great a job it is!”
Making a Difference
Occupational therapists make a difference in people’s lives. An OT’s role is to focus on a person’s goals and how that person occupies themselves in everyday life activities.
This may be helping with ideas, training, equipment, or changes to the environment so that the person can do what they need or want to do each day.
“It’s extremely cliched but I just really love working with people and their families/carers towards things that are important to them,” Elise says.
Kiah adds: “The best thing about our job is building relationships with people on so many different journeys in life, and getting to support them, then see them achieve their goals and needs in life.”
For Cherie, a Senior Occupational Therapist from Melrose Park, SA, there is so much to enjoy in their roles from ‘climbing trees to seeing someone do something for the first time’.
“So much can be achieved when a person feels safe, valued and heard,” she says.
Making a positive impact brings each of them and their clients immense joy and satisfaction. Cherie recalls the breakthrough she made recently with an 11-year-old client with autism.
“When I met her 12 months ago, I was astounded by the extent of her negative self-talk. It completely prevented her from engaging in positive relationships, let alone learning or therapy. Despite this, I could see she was intensely curious about lots of things, so my starting point was to build a narrative about her strengths. Her early therapy involved lots of science experiments.
"Quickly, her curiosity became the door through which she could develop insight into possibilities for connecting and importantly, a place where she could safely fail and try again.
“She is now engaging well in a mainstream class, full time, and is asking lots of important questions about her family, her autism diagnosis and even her future.”
Occupational Therapist Kiah
The Best Job of My Life
Our OTs say it’s a career path they would encourage others to consider.
“Creativity, organisational skills, empathy and curiosity are just some of the skills you need to possess as an OT,” Elise says. “OTs work within a very wide scope of practice! Luckily, there is such a vast wealth of knowledge within the OTs who work here at The Benevolent Society. Whenever I ask a question to the OT community, I always get a useful and inspiring response!”
Cherie was a relative latecomer to the profession, having completed her Master’s degree after the youngest of her three daughters started preschool. “I would encourage people looking to explore mid and late-career change options to consider if occupational therapy as part of their next career move,” she says. “I had experience in health research and psychology, and just needed a couple of subjects in anatomy and physiology to meet the pre-requisites to complete my Master’s degree. It is by far the best job of my life.”
Recent graduate Kiah got her job at The Benevolent Society via a university student placement program. “From day one of my student placement, I knew it was somewhere I would like to work,” she says.
The Benevolent Society has a Graduate Pathways Program for new graduates in OT and speech pathology.
“The program allows you to grow your skills and confidence with on the job and formal training, professional development, working within a professional governance framework and communities of practice with your peers,” says Josie Kitch, Director Operations – SA (Disability & Child and Family), NSW and SE QLD (Disability). “The program creates a nurturing community and supports your learning and development on various levels. The aim of the program is to build a strong, competent, and confident workforce to deliver high quality services to the clients of The Benevolent Society.”
If you’re interested in an OT or speech pathology career with us, click here and to find out more about our occupational therapy services go here or call us on 1800 236 762.