OTA response to Nine/Fairfax article “Government targets aged care ‘over-servicing’ by physiotherapists”.

OTA response to Nine/Fairfax article “Government targets aged care ‘over-servicing’ by physiotherapists”.

Occupational Therapy Australia (OTA) supports the response of our allied health colleagues at the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) in expressing our disappointment in recent comments from the Federal Government questioning allied health’s importance in residential aged care.

The recent comments from Senator Colbeck not only downplay the importance of allied health but directly contradict the findings of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. The Commission recommended that access to and funding of allied health in aged care should be increased. Thus, by seeking to cut costs and reduce funding for allied health in aged care, the government will be reducing the quality of care that is being provided to older Australians. This will inevitably result in worse outcomes.

Occupational therapists, physiotherapists and podiatrists are all highly trained allied health professionals who provide essential services to aged care residents to improve functional ability and prevent functional decline. Occupational therapists are trained to provide both physical and mental health therapy, chronic disease management, assessments for assistive technology, and the assessment of environmental and safety risks. They enable aged care residents to participate in meaningful activities of everyday life, providing them with an enhanced sense of identity, greater purpose and improved wellbeing. The current restrictions of the government’s funding model severely prohibit occupational therapy services in residential aged care, effectively denying residents the ability to live a meaningful and purposeful existence.

The expertise and skill of occupational therapists along with our allied health colleagues is widely recognised as contributing to a system of care that can have a significant positive impact on the lives of aged care residents. Whilst Occupational Therapy Australia acknowledges the role of allied health assistants and lifestyle officers as part of the aged care workforce, it cannot be a substitute for evidence-based professional care from appropriately qualified allied health professionals.

Occupational Therapy Australia and occupational therapists are dedicated to building an efficient and effective residential aged care system that provides fair access to high quality needs-based care, including occupational therapists working across the full scope of their practice domain. We strongly encourage the Federal Government to ensure older Australians in care have appropriate access to allied health professionals and to ensure the duty of care to older Australians is met.

The relevant article can be found here.

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