Hi there. My name’s Rachel, and I’m an Occupational Therapist (OT) for the Telecare and Windmill programs at Royal Far West.
As an OT, I support kids who are having difficulty with everyday activities. This could be anything from learning to play with friends and siblings, following directions, sitting still for learning, getting dressed, climbing in the playground, toileting, and regulating their body and emotions.
A big part of this involves working with and alongside a child’s family and school to develop and implement strategies to support their child achieve at home, at school and out in the community. This often requires lots of flexibility and creativity, which makes my role interesting, challenging and fun, all at the same time!
What led you to work at RFW?
I grew up on a property in Western NSW, travelling 100km one way into town to go to the supermarket, so from a young age I’ve been aware of the impact that living outside of cities and big regional centres has on your ability to access services.
I also believe that children in regional, rural and remote areas should have the same access to quality health services as those available to kids who live in big centres and cities. After working in regional and rural NSW and the NT, I felt RFW provided an amazing opportunity to work with children across rural and remote NSW, an area I know well and am passionate about providing services to! It was also exciting to discover that we offer services in Queensland and WA.
Working with RFW has also provided me the opportunity to explore Telecare and to be a part of a big, multidisciplinary team, which I love.
Describe your typical day?
Due to the restrictions of COVID-19, I’m working three days from home and two days in the office. I’m fortunate enough to live close to the beach, and on my home days I try to sneak in a swim before work. Working from home has taken some adjusting, and I currently have my desk, bike and surfboard all in my room!
A typical day usually consists of a virtual team check-in or getting organised for Telecare sessions. The rest of the day is filled with Telecare, either into homes or schools. Some days I wonder what my downstairs neighbours must think, as I’m jumping across the floor doing an animal walk or bouncing a gym ball against my cupboard door. After Telecare has finished for the day, usually around the end of school time, my afternoon is filled with tasks such as writing notes, emails, making calls and team meetings. Telecare sessions are definitely the highlight of the day!
What drives your day?
The kids and families that I work with are undoubtedly the biggest driver and inspiration of my day, every day. Each day is different, and encourages me to be creative, adaptable and patient, to support the kids and families I work with to be able to achieve the everyday things they need to achieve. I also love that I’m part of a team that provides OT services to children in areas I am very familiar with, as well as having the opportunity to learn about many incredible new places and communities around NSW, Queensland and WA.
One highlight included working with 5-year-old twins via Telecare to build their play skills to support their engagement at home and on the playground with their peers. These sessions were always high energy and very busy, but also lots of fun! The teacher’s aide and I worked closely together to ensure we had lots of ideas up our sleeves to support the twins to remain engaged and build their problem-solving skills and resilience as challenges arose in play. This included working together to recognise when they first walk in if we need to do lots of movement games to help their bodies settle, or, if they’re in a more settled space, we could do some pretend play with blocks and Lego. As sessions progressed, we observed the twins engaging in play for longer periods of time without adult support!
Another highlight has been working closely with a Year 1 girl, helping to build her core strength, fine motor skills and visual perceptual skills to enable her to participate in activities alongside her peers in the classroom. Over 12 months she worked very hard, and we used a range of games and activities to build her skills in these three areas. After 12 months of Telecare, her school and her Mum both noted her increased independence at school and at home. She was much more independent in her schoolwork, and this decreased the amount of 1:1 support she needed each day to do her work.
Are you an Occupational Therapist looking for a new challenge? Why not join our growing multidisciplinary team?
Visit our Current Vacancies page now to find out more about a career at Royal Far West.