Preparing your student for an occupational therapy clinical placement
Within the Occupational Therapy Profession there are resources and tools that would assist students to work effectively within the placement. Below is a range of starter information suggested by Occupational Therapy practitioners to guide the student. You might want to use these as an introduction to the placement, during orientation or throughout the placement as learning tools for your student supervision sessions.
Goal oriented treatment
There are several goal setting tools and models available to OT for use within clinical practice, and these are covered extensively within university programs. For an example of a practical guide, explanation and suggested use in practice, go to King’s College London’s Cicely Saunders Institute for palliative care.
The home environment can provide both an excellent assessment and treatment opportunity for an Occupational Therapist, as it allows a realistic perspective of the client’s ability to perform their chosen occupations within their own environment.
Within placement settings where therapists undertake home assessments and treatments, a policy or guideline is often in place to ensure safety. It is suggested that students become familiar with this policy as part of orientation. Topics covered usually include travel to and from the home visit, safety check-ins, what to take on a home visit and reporting requirements. Students needs to obtain a copy of the practice placement's home visit policy and checklist as part of the orientation process where there is one available.
The Department of Housing and Public Works have completed a set of ‘sustainable homes’ resources that include accessibility. OT’s can use this as a guide for long term planning when modifying clients' environments to suit their needs.
It is also worth becoming familiar with Queensland building and construction codes of practice to ensure any modifications you make comply.
Medical aid subsidy schemes cover considerations such as mobility, incontinence and daily living aids, and will vary between states and territories. The level of insight required by students will depend on the type of clinical placement being offered.
Examples of Medical Aid Subsidy Schemes:
- Queensland Government Equipment Supply with the Medical Aid Subsidy Scheme (MASS)
- Victorian Aids and Equipment program
- Enable NSW - Aids and Equipment program
‘Don’t Fall for it: falls can be prevented’ is a comprehensive consumer booklet prepared by the National Ageing Research Institute and Metropolitan Domiciliary Care, an agency of the State Government of South Australia outlining what older persons can do to prevent falls. This is a great general starting point for students to familiarise themselves with the key areas of focus when addressing falls prevention with a client.
Cognition and Care
Clients you work with may have a health condition that affects the way that they function from a cognitive point of view. Planning and sequencing, insight and judgement, memory, amongst other areas of the brain’s function can be impaired. There are some adaptive and remedial techniques available to improve occupational performance when a client’s cognition becomes impaired. Occupational Therapists need to consider how this may affect the client’s ability to make decisions regarding finance, health care and safe living. If the client’s capacity is under question, another person or professional body may take over decision making until the client improves or possibly for a longer term. This is known as guardianship. Consumer information relating to legal arrangements in the event of impaired decision making capacity can be found at https://www.qld.gov.au/law/legal-mediation-and-justice-of-the-peace/power-of-attorney-and-making-decisions-for-others/making-decisions-for-others
For more information regarding the guardianship boards in your state and capacity, the Department of Health and Aging is a good place to start.
Working with older persons
This website has a comprehensive section for educators and student resources - Student and Clinician Aged Care Resources. Review these resources as relevant to your placement setting. There are also some OT specific treatment guides written for older adults available on the Occupational Therapy Toolkit website - treatment guides for physical disabilities and geriatrics.