“Some people carry more weight in their upper or lower body, some might have more on the inside or outside of their thighs. Where does their tummy sit? Is it above the waist or below the waist? In the past, the approach was ‘’you’re this size so we’ll chuck you on this chair’’. But we now know that getting people correctly positioned is much safer for them and for caregivers.”
Common challenges that caregivers face include how to turn and transfer bariatric clients safely without over-reaching, straining their back or having the client lose their balance and fall on top of them.
“Choosing the right equipment is as much about looking after the caregiver as it is about looking after the client’s needs.”
Obesity rates are increasing worldwide and a lot more equipment solutions now exist, Sharon says.
“There’s definitely more resources, support and equipment coming out that can cater for the bariatric population. However, we do need to really upskill ourselves because as therapists, we are going to see these clients more often in our daily practice. So, there’s a lot of information and resources out there.. However, we need to access them and upskill ourselves.”
Sharon has over 15 years’ experience as an NZROT and is one of three OTs based at Cubro’s head office who support OTs from around New Zealand to find the right equipment for individual clients. “We’re there to problem solve and assist with funding applications and justifications,” Sharon says. “I’m like an extra colleague and act as a sounding board to best meet a client’s needs.”
Sharon also keeps herself up-to-speed with the latest learning and education on a wide variety of topics, and enjoys sharing that knowledge internally with Cubro’s staff and externally with New Zealand’s wider therapy community.
Sharon’s 45 minute ‘Caring for bariatric clients’ seminar presentation will be held on day one of the ATSNZ Disability Expo (Wednesday 28th September) at 3pm. For more information visit www.atsnzexpo.nz.