What is an Occupational Therapist?

Occupational Therapists are at a minimum, four-year university degree qualified allied health professionals that use a whole person perspective to work with individuals, groups, and communities to achieve optimal health and wellbeing through participation in the occupations of life (Occupational Therapy Australia). Occupational Therapists have specialized skills in assessment to identify limitations of an individual in participation in activities of daily living and occupations, and therapeutic interventions to overcome these limitations. An Occupational Therapist works with individuals and their support people across the lifespan and in a range of environments that are important to the individual.

Please visit the Occupational Therapy Australia website for more information.

Who can Occupational Therapists help?

Through a client-focused lens, our Occupational Therapists promote the health and wellbeing of our clients through supporting their participation in daily occupations such as self-care, work, education, play, relationships, interests, leisure activities, and beyond. This adaptation can be seen through supporting a client to develop or improve skills, adjusting the environment, adjusting the task, recommending home modifications, and more. We work collaboratively with Participants and their support team to set up each client for success, which looks different for each individual in their own setting.

We work with children and adults with:

We work across all occupations including:

  • Employment and vocation
  • Handwriting
  • Home care and maintenance
  • Leisure and recreational activities
  • Management of finances
  • Play
  • Safe transfers within the home and community
  • Self-care such as feeding, toileting, showering, and dressing
  • Social engagement

Benefits of seeing an Occupational Therapist

Engaging in support from an occupational therapist can lead to:

Improvements in:

  • Balance and mobility
  • Bone density
  • Cardiorespiratory health and function
  • Cognition (concentration, memory, and thinking)
  • Community access
  • Coordination and dexterity
  • Confidence to move and do more safely
  • Emotional wellbeing, mood, and mental health (e.g. symptoms of anxiety and depression)
  • Energy levels
  • Flexibility and range of motion (ROM)
  • Functional capacity
  • Immune function
  • Independence in activities of daily living (ADLs) and occupations
  • Mental health
  • Motivation for a healthy and meaningful lifestyle
  • Muscular strength and endurance
  • Parenting confidence and capacity
  • Participation in education and/or employment
  • Posture and movement patterns
  • Pain management
  • Recovery timeframes following surgery and/or injury
  • Self-management of health, well-being, and quality of life
  • Sleep hygiene and quality
  • Spasticity, stiffness, and contractures
  • Sports and athletic performance
  • Understanding of health condition/s and appropriate self-management
  • Weight loss
  • Meeting of physical, cognitive, social, emotional, and personal milestones

Reductions in:

  • Challenging behaviours
  • Development and/or progression of chronic disease
  • Need for invasive and expensive treatments such as surgery
  • Need for medication for management of health conditions
  • Occupational differences between individuals and their peers as a result of disability or disease
  • Risk of falls, injury, and re-aggravation of existing injuries

Support in:

  • Care team education
  • Goal setting for the ability to achieve important life goals
  • Healthy body composition management
  • Increasing independence and quality of life
  • Maintenance of a healthy, meaningful, and active lifestyle
  • Management of chronic disease such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity

What is involved in an Occupational Therapy Initial session? 

The location and structure of an initial appointment will be dependent on the needs and preferences of each individual. It may be in the home to consider the environment or the tasks leading to the referral, whereas other assessments may occur in a clinic or school location. Due to the needs of the assessment, certain assessments such as a Functional Capacity Assessment (FCA) must include community or home-based appointments. The initial appointment is used to determine the goals of Occupational Therapy input and obtain information to allow an initial assessment and plan. Please provide any relevant medical or health documentation at the initial appointment if this has not been previously supplied.

We offer Occupational Therapy assessments and interventions, based on the age, background, needs, and goals of the individual. Please see “Interventions and Ongoing Therapy” section down below for more information.

Occupational Therapy services provided at Thriving Lives Co.

Assessments and Interventions

Our Occupational Therapist will work with the individual and their support team to understand the areas of occupation that are being impacted by their difficulties. The care team then consider Assistive Technology (equipment or devices) that will increase independence and function within occupation in daily life. This process may require consideration of low-risk equipment, including (but not limited to) adaptive utensils, grab rails, or shower chairs. High risk equipment may also be considered, including (but not limited to) wheelchairs, specialised seating options, pressure care, and bedding. This may involve trialling and reviewing equipment prior to clinical recommendations.

Assessing the infant or child’s developmental level and offering recommendations to support the challenges and further develop the strengths identified. We utilise the Bayley-4 developmental assessment, among other specialised assessments to provide high-quality assessments and intervention planning.

We consider the safety of an individual within identified tasks or situations and recommend alternatives or adjustments to support the individual in completing meaningful and essential tasks.

To assess, manage, and reduce risks of falls for a person within their home or accommodation and in the community.

We complete Functional Capacity assessments across the lifespan which allows us, and the care team, to clearly understand the individual’s functional capacity in their current environment, in that period of their life. The Functional Capacity Assessment can support NDIS applications, reviews, and planning, as well as support the individual and their team in identifying pathways to work towards their goals.

We complete both minor and complex home modification assessments to support people to thrive independently in their home.

We consider the options that will allow an individual who is over 18 years of age to live independently. This is suitable for people who require support for at least 6 hours per day and are ready to explore home and living needs and preferences, now and in future planning. If the individual requires overnight support, registered nursing support, or 24-hour support, then a SIL assessment is appropriate (see below).

We offer various Occupational Therapy interventions based on the age, background, needs, and goals of the individual.

Specific characteristics of the individual’s interpretation and integration of the sensory environment around (taste, smell, touch, sound) and within them (balance and proprioception) are assessed. Further consideration is made regarding how this information is used by the individual to support their participation in personally meaningful occupations, such as play, education, sports, relationships or games and ways a person’s sensory motor processes may be impacting their function. Recommendations are provided to support the individual’s participation in meaningful occupation and work towards their goals.

We consider the accommodation and support needs for an individual and their suitability for a Specialist Disability Accommodation home. This can occur in conjunction with a SIL assessment or following a SIL assessment to understand the optimal environment and task considerations to support independence within a thriving life.

An assessment which considers the challenges faced in living independently for the individual with high support needs. It also considers and explores the supports that could be implemented to allow the individual to live as independently as possible, while continuing to build skills which support participation in meaningful occupation.

Sometimes there are client needs which do not neatly fit into the box of a standard assessment or standard service offering. Our experienced team are able to complete focused consultations surrounding complex or multi-faceted needs which do not fit under other assessment types or service offerings. Supporting reports or letters of recommendation may be able to be provided depending on client needs and requirements following consultation. Please contact us for further details on supporting request services.

To support an individual’s community access, we can assess and prescribe modifications for cars which will ensure safety for the individual and their support person. These may include hoists equipment or other adaptations.

We consider the safety and efficiency of an individual within a workplace, including review of the requirements of the position in relation to the individual content and challenges, and provide recommendations to support a safe and effective work-based outcome for the individual and workplace.

Interventions and ongoing therapy

  • For infants we are able to complete developmental assessments, sensory processing assessments, environmental assessments, and task analysis to support assessment.
  • Within childhood we can offer developmental assessments and screening, including sensory, motor, and visual perception assessments.
  • Assessments may incorporate information from a range of environments including home, daycare centers, kindergartens, schools or within the community.
  • In understanding the unique developmental pathway taken by each child, and in collaboration with the family, an intervention plan is developed, using the natural learning opportunities for infants and young children, through play-based activities and games.
  • Sessions involve parents and other supports to ensure the care team feel confident in understanding and supporting the developmental capacities held by their child.
  • Therapy may occur in an ongoing manner for short to medium term time periods, or in blocks of therapy with breaks in between to support skill consolidation.
  • Intervention will include sessions with children and their parents/carers and also parent/carer sessions to empower parents in the day to day support they offer their child.
  • We also develop programs for families to implement between appointments to support parents and their care team to continue to offer the games, toys, and interactions that will support their work towards their goals.
  • We complete sessions in home, daycare centers, schools, or within the community, based on the individual needs of the child and always in close collaboration with the parents/carers.
  • We will provide assessment and input into environmental factors which may enhance or negatively impact the child’s development, such as positioning and postures in different tasks, sensory considerations, and access to the play opportunities that are required
  • Within adolescence we remain family focused while supporting the individual in navigating the unique challenges present within adolescence and in the transition to adulthood.
  • This can include self-care skills, social interactions, self-regulation, task-based motor skill development, participation in leisure and education and within community access.
  • We will work with the individual and in consultation with their family to support their participation in a life they love, and in working towards their goals with their emerging independence.
  • Therapy may occur in an ongoing manner for short to medium term time periods, or in blocks of therapy with breaks between to support skill consolidation.
  • We support adults to participate in meaningful occupations such as self-care, participation in employment, social relationships, community participation, and leisure activities through short or medium-term therapy blocks.
  • This will involve collaborative care to support the individual within their networks and environment to lead a thriving life.
  • Therapeutic intervention may include environmental or task adaption or using individual based therapies such as the Acceptance and Commitment Model or motor learning therapies.

Our team of occupational therapists are available at a variety of our clinic locations throughout Far North Queensland as well as within the community by visiting homes, pools, gyms, and schools, in addition to telehealth to ensure that the therapy intervention reviews will occur in the location that supports realistic and meaningful change in the client’s life. 

Referral Pathways

Occupational Therapy services can be funded by Australian compensable schemes/pathways including:

Through these compensable schemes, Occupational Therapists are able to support individuals to improve their functional capacity and participation in activities at home, school, work, and in the community.

What is special about a Thriving Lives Co. Occupational Therapist?

We are a neurodiversity affirming and trauma informed service that utilise a compassionate, person-centered approach to our work, which means the care provided will be sensitive to the individual needs of the person, their relationships, environment, and occupation to support each individual to access resources and possibilities within and around themselves to help them thrive in their lives, performance, and participation in meaningful occupation.

  • We are all about empowering our clients to support them to be as independent in their personalised therapy as possible based on their needs and preferences. So, we work with everyone in our client’s lives to help support their development, autonomy, and independence.
  • We genuinely care about our clients and will commit the time required to truly understand our client’s needs to be able to deliver the most effective holistic, evidence-based healthcare for each individual.
  • We love what we do, which means when we are with our clients, we are having fun and doing everything in our power to help make it as fun and enjoyable as possible for everyone.
  • We appreciate that even though we are experts of human anatomy and physiology, our clients are the experts of their own health and life experiences, so we aim to speak less and listen more
  • We are humble and brave, so if we aren’t the right person to help or we don’t know how to help, we will refer our client to someone who can, or do more research and/or training to be able to help next time.
  • We are constantly reviewing the latest research to maintain our commitment to evidence-based practice to give ourselves and our clients the confidence that their healthcare is based upon the most reliable and valid information available to deliver the best care possible.
  • We all share a growth mindset so we love seeking out and receiving feedback and we take every opportunity we can to learn from our mistakes to become the best therapists that we can be.
  • We are constantly striving for excellence in the way we do things as a healthcare team, this is why we are always innovating and adapting to suit the needs of our clients and our community.
  • We really value teamwork and collaboration, and we are lucky enough to be able to work closely with a wide variety of skilled and experienced allied health professionals in our team to give our clients a broad interdisciplinary perspective and approach in their therapy.

Governance and Scope of Practice

All of our Occupational Therapists achieve and maintain registration with their regulatory authority, The Occupational Therapy Board of Australia, which is part of, and works in partnership with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) to ensure that Australia’s registered health practitioners are suitably trained, qualified, and safe to practice.

For more information regarding the scope of practice of an Occupational Therapist please see the Occupational Therapy Scope of Practice by Occupational Therapy Australia (OTA), the professional association for Occupational Therapists in Australia.