Hi there. My name’s Billie and I am an Occupational Therapist, commonly referred to as an OT.
Explain what an OT does
I help kids who are having difficulties in their everyday activities. These activities can include anything from handwriting, getting dressed, packing a school bag, opening a lunch box, sitting still to learn, playing with friends, climbing in the playground, going to sleep and following instructions. Another big piece of my job is regulation, which often relates to behaviour and the ability to connect with their emotions and sensations. The list is endless, which is why as an OT it is really important to build a relationship with a child and their family so that I can understand why these difficulties might be happening and how best to support a child in the context of their family life. Being an Occupational Therapist is holistic, challenging, interesting and fun!
How long have you been here?
I have been at Royal Far West since 2018, so I think I finally have my head around how it runs! Royal Far West is a unique workplace for health professionals. One thing I had to adjust to was staying in one space while families came to visit me! In my previous roles as an OT I visited children at home, school and in the community. Another big adjustment was working with Telecare, where I reach out to kids via the internet, and work with them through computer screens. Telecare is now one of my favourite ways to deliver therapy. As an OT it allows me to be creative and resourceful as I help kids and parents/carers look at the environment around them for therapy tools and ideas. It has been a wonderful surprise to see how engaged children, parents/carers and teachers are over Telecare. Telecare is a huge part of our service delivery at Royal Far West right now during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are all working from home and are working hard to transfer our Manly based programs to Telecare so that none of our country kids will miss out on services.
What led you to work at RFW?
I grew up in Coffs Harbour on the NSW Mid North Coast, so I am passionate about working with children and families from regional and rural parts of Australia. Royal Far West provided an opportunity to work completely with country families while I’m living in the city.
Two of the most valuable experiences I have had so far at Royal Far West have been joining the Healthy Kids Bus Stop in the program’s recent stops at Goulbourn and Glen Innes. Visiting communities and supporting kids alongside local health professionals is a privilege.
The Healthy Kids Bus Stop is a comprehensive health screening program aimed at children 3-5 years of age, is free of charge to families, and is run in partnership with local communities. Identifying issues before children start school is vital. The health professionals help identify any developmental issues and provide a pathway to care for children needing extra support.
Describe your typical day (now that we’re all working from home)
A typical day (in self isolation) involves waking up at home, doing yoga and making coffee before joining a remote conferencing team meeting, where we can all see other. We try to keep these meetings fun by wearing crazy headwear and party shirts. The rest of the day is spent doing Telecare OT sessions, conferencing meetings and working on projects. One of our current projects, still in the planning phase, will support families who were affected by the bushfires. It is something I am very grateful to be involved in and I am looking forward to supporting these families.
Completing Telecare OT sessions at home has been a fun adjustment for the kids and for me. So far, we have all enjoyed having a peek into how the other lives! In the photo I am making a ‘body map’ with my on-line friend from Cobar. We are trialling different sensory experiences using the gym ball and drawing the sensations and feelings on our ‘body map’. We then brainstorm if the sensations gave us energy, made us calm, or made us feel uncomfortable. These ideas help us to identify how best to support this child to feel regulated and calm throughout the day.
Tell us about some great outcomes for a RFW child
A lovely boy from rural NSW comes to mind. He was having a hard time concentrating and regulating his emotions at school. As a result, he wasn’t learning or making friends. After completing OT sessions on Telecare with him, and with his mother, school teachers and aides, he was a different child! Everyone around him changed the way they were interacting and supporting him. At home, emotions were talked about, and the time spent playing together increased. At school, the classroom routine was changed, regulation activities became part of the daily routine and expectations of the boy were altered in response to the knowledge teachers had gained. Everyone in his world came together to support him . In a video conference with the family and school late last year, the Principal came into the room and said the boy was currently running through the playground, surrounded by friends, with a big smile on his face. His learning had improved, and he was calm and happy at home and school. The Principal commented, ‘he is our success story’ and I burst into happy tears. When such amazing outcomes are achieved, it is overwhelmingly joyful for all involved!
Visit our Telecare page to find out more about our services via video link.
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