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Activities at home

You, a family member or the person you care for may want to do things more easily and safely around your home.

This might be:

Doing things more easily and safely

Therapist providing support services to man in wheelchairAn occupational therapist can come to your home and talk with you about how you do things. You can show the occupational therapist what you do. This is called an Activities of Daily Living (ADL) assessment. This could be how far you move on your own, including reaching and bending, as well as how much strength you have to do something, for example getting out of a chair. The occupational therapist then works with you to make activities at home easier and safer. Where appropriate, these assessments can also be done by physiotherapists who can work with you to build your strength and flexibility.

If you need devices or equipment, the occupational therapist may talk to you about the Independent Living Centres across Australia. They have showrooms and databases of products. You can phone or email the Independent Living Centre to get information on products and where to buy them.

Getting in and out of bed

If you need to move your child from bed to a wheelchair, a physiotherapist or an occupational therapist can advise on safe lifting and moving techniques so you do not get an injury.

As an adult, you might need support to get out of bed. An occupational therapist or a physiotherapist can advise on safe ways to do this and can also suggest transfer devices such as hoists if you need them.

Using the bathroom

You might need a grab rail or a seat in the shower. Products such as long handled equipment to reach toes and backs make washing yourself easier. An occupational therapist can suggest options. Physiotherapists or exercise physiologists may work with you to optimise and maintain flexibility and/or range of motion where appropriate.

If you need more extensive changes to the bathroom, an occupational therapist can advise on how to do this.

If you are concerned about your incontinence, you may wish to talk to your doctor or a physiotherapist or contact the National Continence Helpline. An occupational therapist or a physiotherapist can give you information about various continence products. Where appropriate, a physiotherapist may suggest exercises to help you achieve continence.

Getting dressed

Clothes

You want clothes that look good and are easy to get on and off. Customised and adapted clothing make getting dressed easier. Equipment is available if you have difficulty reaching or gripping zippers or buttons. The occupational therapist can suggest clothing options or devices to suit your needs.

If you have difficulty getting in and out of clothes due to lack of strength, poor balance or reduced movement, a physiotherapist or an exercise physiologist can design a program to improve balance and prevent falls.

Shoes

If you cannot find shoes to meet your needs, a podiatrist can provide information on comfortable and supportive shoes and also devices to help you put on and take off your shoes.

You might have a foot condition that makes it difficult to move about. A podiatrist may suggest orthotics to fit into your shoes. If your child may have foot issues in future, the podiatrist can advise on shoes, splints and exercises.

If you know that you need orthotics for your shoes or a physiotherapist has prescribed them, you can contact an orthotist who specialises in assessing, designing and providing orthotics.

Eating and drinking

If you have difficulty eating or drinking, or if you cough or choke on food or drinks, a speech pathologist can provide support and assistance. This might include recommendations about your body positioning, your food's texture, or providing you with strategies so you can chew and swallow food and drink safely.

 If you cannot swallow safely, dietitians can organise home enteral nutrition. This means setting up and taking a nutrition formula through a feeding tube.

If you have trouble holding knives and forks, you can get adapted cutlery for easier handling. The occupational therapist can suggest many different devices for eating and drinking and show you how to use them effectively.

Man washing up

If you want to cook, an occupational therapist can find ways to make it easier and safer to use the kitchen space more efficiently. It might include the layout of kitchen utensils and appliances. It could be suggesting ways to improve your posture while preparing food and identifying utensils that have comfortable handles and grips.

There is equipment to assist people with vision impairment, limited reach and mobility, pain and joint stiffness, coordination difficulties, limited strength and endurance or those with the use of one hand.

A dietitian can suggest services to assist you with cooking and shopping for food.

Play

Lady playing with a child

An occupational therapist, a paediatric physiotherapist or a speech pathologist can work with your child through play and other activities to support development of balance, coordination and strength as well as communication and social skills. Psychologists can work with your child to develop social skills and positive interactions.

Occupational therapists can work with children on the use of their hands to draw and write, for example. A speech pathologist can support you to engage your child's communication development through play. The earlier this is done with your child, the better the results may be.

Getting around your home and feeling comfortable

An occupational therapist can suggest devices to make you more independent at home. For example, you might not be able to turn on or off lights, the TV or radio or open the front door on your own. Environmental control units can help with this.

A physiotherapist or an exercise physiologist may also be able to work with you to optimise movement to improve your independence.

If your home is becoming more difficult to get around, an occupational therapist may suggest changes to the building. This could be:

  • a step-free path to the door
  • at least one door without a step
  • wider doors and corridors
  • a toilet on the ground floor
  • a step-free shower

It is important that you feel comfortable at home. You may find it difficult to get used to changes to your home. Background TV or radio noise or the comings and goings of neighbours and other visitors can also lead to stress. You can ask a psychologist to identify changes that would work better for you and to find solutions to create a non-stressful, constant and familiar environment.

Solutions - not only products

It is very important that the equipment you get really works for you and is easy to use. That is why a therapist will show you options if possible and prescribe the equipment that is right for you. The therapist will also:

  • arrange for the equipment to be installed
  • show you how to use it safely
  • adjust it if needed
  • make sure that you are still comfortable with the device after you have used it for a while

This means that you will get a total solution to meet your needs and not just a product.