Occupational therapy isn't just about your job - the word "occupation" here means your daily life and the actions and motions needed just to get by.
Occupational therapist Andrea Lin sat with us at a hawker center near the Ci Yuan Community Club. Within this complex are many facilities, including a therapy center for the elderly. Andrea, who is also a freelance occupational therapist at CaregiverAsia, is currently helping out over and above her normal duties. Owing to her long years of quality experience, Andrea is well-placed to assist the therapy center in an audit carried out by health care authorities.
Many would say, Andrea is no small fry. She was a member of Nanyang Polytechnic's pioneer batch of Occupational Therapy graduates, and has been in the health care business for 21 years – as an occupational therapist and clinical operations manager. Andrea works long hours, up to nearly 70 hours per week on a locum basis for corporate clients as well as individuals, focusing on geriatric care and dementia care, with a side venture in adult stroke rehabilitation – and that's just the hands on aspect of her work. She also gives consultation on setting up dementia care centers, handling regulatory and other specialized administrative matters. Some of her corporate clients are made of specialized mobility funds administered by Government-controlled entities such as the Agency for Integrated Care.
Andrea explained that some people often think that occupation therapy refers to one's job o. Instead, occupational therapy deals with restoring a patient who has been debilitated by illness from fully functioning in self-care and leisure, as well as work-related activities. The idea is to bring a patient to a state that requires less intensive intervention – and when this happens, it also lessens the stress on the patient's other Caregivers. For example, a patient with a paralyzed arm may not be able to brush his own teeth, but the occupational therapist needs to deal with one issue at a time, in a logical sequence: the patient may first need strength training if he lacks gross motor skills and cannot even move the arm. Once that is solved, there may be problems with the fine finger movements needed to grip and turn the toothbrush properly, so the occupational therapist needs to consider assistive devices, like a special glove or attachment to connect the hand and the toothbrush. Occupational therapists have outcome-based metrics. But what the outcomes should be, is a difficult question to answer without the right knowledge and experience.
Andrea recalled an interesting experience: a patient with a very severe case of immobility but was suddenly moved and stimulated to say a couple of words when she encountered people making prayer offerings during the lunar Seventh Month. Another interesting experience was with a part-time cleaner who suffered a stroke. This patient attended therapy sessions twice a week for three months, and improved on her MMT score from 2+ to almost 4. Though it was a 100 per cent recovery, it was a very good outcome and the patient has gone back to work and is rebuilding her career.
Andrea foresees that the demand for dementia care will increase because work pressures will reduce the availability of informal Caregivers. Families will find it hard to manage and care for their loved ones suffering for dementia. They've also projected a rise due to the country's increasing dementia awareness for early detection and diagnosis. However, industry support for dementia is also more ready these days. Daycare facilities may not cure or stop the progress of dementia in patients, but they help promote the patients' quality of life.
And with this, we hope to continue to spread the word on the help that is available for Careseekers as well as an open invitation for experienced Caregivers to join the CaregiverAsia community. Caregivers who post services on the CaregiverAsia website practice 100% of their own terms, right down to their availability, and service costing. There are no subscription fees or posting fees for Caregivers. There are many people looking for care services now, so do sign up online on our website, or call +65 6258 6683 to talk to us.