It all began when Evelyn’s friend was able to engage in personally meaningful activities thanks to the help of an occupational therapist, who taught her how to use a computer again with the help of adaptive equipment.
“I was drawn to the philosophy behind the profession. Occupational therapy supports clients of different age groups. It helps them regain their bodily functions or re-engage in activities of daily living and participate in meaningful activities. Therapy makes a big difference in the lives of clients and can be extremely empowering.”
An ex-client of Evelyn’s had sustained a hip fracture and was unable to continue what she loved doing best in the mornings: Cycling to the wet market. This made an impact on both her and her caregiver’s quality of life.
“To help my client, I first conducted an assessment to determine her suitability for a personal mobility aid. Once this was confirmed, I began coaching her on how to use it safely to visit her old haunts. After she regained independence – albeit with minor modifications, such as visual markers on her personal mobility aid to help her reverse more easily – she and her caregiver were very grateful. Successful cases like this one encourages and pushes me to do my best for every client.”
As occupational therapy is not as widely-known as say, nursing or medicine, Evelyn has heard her fair share of misconceptions about the job. One of these include ‘helping people find jobs’.
“While vocational training is an aspect of occupational therapy, we look at more than jobs. The word ‘occupation’ also covers activities of daily living, such as dressing oneself and taking public transport independently. Another common misconception is that we provide massage services. We do more than that – we draw up care plans with established principles and methods to help our clients regain their functions.”
Thankfully, Evelyn’s friends and family were fully supportive when they heard of her decision to pursue occupational therapy and support persons with disabilities or special needs. Now, she is part of the AWWA Therapy Hub and works with clients in various settings in the community: Nursing homes, day rehabilitations centres and dementia day care centres.
“In the community, there are many opportunities to see how our clients carry out their daily activities in an environment which is familiar to them. This helps us plan contextualised training sessions, which are even more beneficial for them.”
To aspiring occupational therapists, Evelyn advises, “Find out more through job shadowing and speaking with occupational therapists. To get to know the clients’ way of life, you can also volunteer with organisations that support persons with special needs. Never let your passion for helping and empowering others fade.”
As for the friend who sparked her interest in this profession, she continues to be an inspiration to Evelyn – even till today.
Want to make a difference in the community like Evelyn? The Community Care Scholarship might be just for you. Find out more here: www.aic.buzz/CommCareScholar.