Working with Older People

Mental Health

Practice Support

Working with Older People

Occupational therapists play a key role in providing aged care services to older people—both in the community and in residential aged care facilities. Occupational therapists work with older people with age-related conditions such as poor balance/coordination, memory loss, confusion, vision loss and hearing loss, which lead to changes in their ability to participate in the meaningful activities of everyday life.


Read about the work OTA are doing to achieve a better Aged Care sector that supports our profession to deliver the high quality, specialised services our older population want and need.

Read about the latest updates in aged care including updates from the Department on reforms and engagement, sector updates, research and training opportunities and more.

Develop your skills & knowledge and earn CPD points as part of your AHPRA registration with our aged care focused CPD events and offerings.

Consider joining a special interest group to engage and learn from your aged care OT peers.

OTA have developed flyers to help older people, their families and carers and those providing aged care services to better understand the role of occupational therapists in aged care. The flyers also provide details of how older people can access occupational therapists with a QR code to the "Find an OT" portal.

The aged care capability framework aims to define the various roles, skills and knowledge that occupational therapists working with older people require in their clinical practice.



What do Aged Care OTs do?

Age-related issues affecting physical and cognitive function, as well as chronic disease and disability processes, may lead to changes in a person’s ability to participate in meaningful activities of living. Occupational therapists address these issues by working with individuals, groups, and communities to deliver therapeutic interventions that support occupational engagement.

An occupational therapist can provide:

  • functional or cognitive assessments and therapy
  • expertise in dementia care,
  • therapy to improve participation in activities of daily living including rehabilitation and pain management,
  • care coordination and planning,
  • driving assessments,
  • assessment and prescription of aids and equipment,
  • assessment and prescription of modifications to the environment,
  • hand therapy, and
  • mental health interventions including focused psychological strategies.

Useful information and resources

WFOT Position Statement - Occupational Therapy and Ageing Across the Life Course

The World Federation of Occupational Therapy (WFOT) has a position statement on the contribution of occupational therapy in Aged Care. The position statement can be downloaded from the WFOT website here.

The WFOT position statement provides a statement of the position being taken, statement of the significance of position or issue to occupational therapy, and statement of the significance of the position to the community or society.

Use of the position statement

The intended audience for this document includes occupational therapists, education staff and leaders, parents, clients, governments, policy makers, universities and researchers.

To promote a unified, national, shared vision across Australian states and territories.
To support best practice and multi-tiered service provision in aged-care practice.
To promote the role of occupational therapists in aged-care practice.
To aid collaboration between health-care professionals and occupational therapists.

The Australian Context

Australian Aging Population

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare defines older Australians as those aged over 65 years. In 2020 there were an estimated 4.2 million older Australians, comprising 16% of the Australian population. By 2066 it is estimated that older Australians will make up between 21-23% of the Australian Population. With this increase in the ageing population in Australia, we will see an increasing demand for occupational therapy services in the aged care sector.

Australian Legislation

The Aged Care Act (1997) is the overarching Australian legislation that recognises the obligations and responsibilities that aged care providers in all settings must demonstrate to provide services, receive funding and meet the regulatory requirements. The Aged Care Act also sets out the rights and diversity requirements for older Australians receiving aged care. Click here for more information.

The Age Discrimination Act (2004) is an Australian legislation that ensures the rights of older Australians are protected. This enables them to have equal opportunities within their community to participate in their desired occupations. For more information: Age Discrimination Act (2004).

Australian Aged Care system

Aged care services are delivered across a range of settings which include home and community care, transitional care and residential care settings by a range of services including not-for-profit, for profit and local authorities. Australians aged 65 and older are eligible for the Commonwealth government aged care funding. First nations people aged 50 and older can access aged care funding with dedicated funding available to provide culturally appropriate services. Older Australians are able to access funding for equipment under aged care funding. Older Australians are also able to access occupational therapy services via Medicare and private health insurance schemes.

Get involved

Connect with your peers and profession to improve aged care outcomes for clients.

Sponsored Advertising - Find out more