What Does an Occupational Therapist Do?
If you’ve ever heard the term “Occupational Therapy,” you may be wondering what exactly it involves—or potentially considering it as a career path. Occupational therapy is a client-centred health profession that involves providing ongoing assessments and support to those with disabilities, injuries or illness, helping them to participate in meaningful activities.
In occupational therapy, the word “occupation” refers to the everyday activities that people do to occupy time and bring purpose to their lives. These activities include taking care of oneself, working, volunteering and participating in hobbies and social events.
If you’re interested in occupational therapy jobs, this article covers who occupational therapists are, what’s involved in the profession and how to get qualified.
What is an Occupational Therapist?
Occupational therapists provide support to those whose health or disability prevents them from doing the tasks and activities they want to do. Through a series of ongoing client assessments, occupational therapists can pinpoint the following:
- Activities the client can do
- Activities the client wants to do
- Client’s limitations
- Client’s strengths
- Client’s goals and motivations
From there, occupational therapists can offer advice and techniques to help their client perform this activity in a safe and easy way. They focus on promoting health and wellbeing, helping their client regain independence and adapt to their environment.
Where Do Occupational Therapists Practise?
One of the benefits of occupational therapy jobs is having numerous areas of specialisations to choose from. According to Allied Health Professions Australia, occupational therapists work in a wide range of public and private settings, including:
- Community health centres
- Aged care facilities
- Individual homes
- Mental health settings
- Correctional institutions
- Corporate settings
- Education facilities
- Government departments
The majority of occupational therapists work predominantly in hospitals or aged care facilities.
What Services Do Occupational Therapists Provide?
Occupational therapists can provide a range of services to individual clients or groups, or they can provide assistance at a more strategic level. Their support may include developing the client’s skills in self-care, home- and self-management, and community reintegration. Occupational therapists may also use family-centred approaches and collaborative partnerships to help support clients.
Modification of everyday environments (such as home, work or school), assessment and training in the use of orthotic and prosthetic devices, and driver rehabilitation are additional services provided to help the client’s mobility.
Occupational therapists also provide: care coordination, transition services, discharge planning, client advocacy, wound care management, and sensory, perceptual, cognitive and manual therapy techniques.
How Do You Become an Occupational Therapist?
Having a career in occupational therapy can be incredibly rewarding, as you will help people of all ages live their lives to the fullest and get back to doing the things they love. If you’re wondering how to become an occupational therapist, you can start by earning a formal qualification that will equip you to step confidently into your first role as an occupational therapy assistant.
Qualifications like the HLT43015 Certificate IV in Allied Health Assistance (Occupational Therapy) will ensure you have the real-world skills and theoretical understanding to thrive in this career. This certificate combines practical work placement with online theory, giving you both hands-on experience and knowledge-based learning in preparation for a successful career in allied health.
For more information on careers in healthcare, check out Foundation Education’s health courses.