Jane Fairbairn has worked as a physio in Wellington for almost 20 years, and specialises in working with the elderly and those with neurological conditions like Parkinson’s Disease.
She says the team of people working with a client can “potentially be huge” (especially under ACC), and communication is vital to figure out what the real issues are, what goals are realistic and who’s going to carry out what part of the treatment plan.
“I think we’re really lucky that most physios and OTs understand each other’s role so well that we can do that initial assessment and go ‘yeah there’s heaps of OT stuff here, not so much physio’ or vice versa. At that point you can make a plan to work towards the client’s goals, the client’s needs and what’s also realistic before taking them on that journey.
“There’s often lots of communication between the different professionals saying ‘actually we’ve got heaps of issues with this… I need you to do more on that, so I’ll pull back for a fortnight.’ It’s important to have lots of understanding between physios and OTs on how you can work together to get a greater outcome for your client.”
While there is a lot of cross-over between these two roles, physios can be regarded as movement specialists, while OTs help apply that movement to purposeful and meaningful activities. They also ensure the appropriate equipment is in place and the environment is safe for the task at hand.