This answer to this frequently asked question is “No” – occupational therapists cannot do the same job a physiotherapist can.
There is, however, an overlapping scope of practice which means both allied health professionals can share some roles and responsibilities… and both can do things the other can’t.
This is a response from Emma Riggs, Occupational Therapy Manager, whose work in aged care has recently earned her a scholarship with the Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI):
OT’s specialise in assessing residents holistically, taking into consideration a person’s physical and cognitive limitations, how their environment and equipment impacts on their abilities, and then devising strategies to optimise their function.
Their scope of practice in residential care, like physiotherapists, can include:
- Prescribing and carrying out complex pain management
- Performing mobility assessments and devising mobility and care plans
- Falls review and prevention
- Providing directives for skin integrity management and the management of arthritic joints
- Performing electric wheelchair and seating assessments
OTs also have the additional skills to carry out the tasks that many physiotherapists do not, such as functional task assessments in areas of nutritional support, personal hygiene, toileting, cognitive impairment and depression; this means it’s the facilities that are using a combination of physiotherapists and occupational therapists are the ones who are optimising their ACFI income whilst getting better resident outcomes
Aged care physiotherapy and occupational therapy should be structured in a way to improve resident pain management and mobility outcomes in a way that’s consistent, transparent and supports facilities’ accreditation and funding needs. Click here if your site isn’t receiving this type of service,