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Kylie thanks OT team this Occupational Therapy Week

Published:  27 October 2020

Kylie Poulsen had never needed an occupational therapist until a freak accident saw the 52-year-old administration officer spend almost two weeks in hospital in August this year.

“We were having a birthday party in the backyard and I joined in on a party game; I was running towards my team mate to tag him when the dog flew around the corner and collided with me, injuring my knee,” Kylie said.

“My first impression was that it was a simple injury; it wasn’t until the next day, after the x-rays and hearing several medical staff use the words ‘serious injury’, that I realised how bad it was.”

Kylie, who normally lives an independent and active life, said she soon came to realise the impact her injury would have on her day-to-day life.

“I try to be an upbeat person but the injury really took its toll psychologically; I felt that by being holed up in hospital I was letting my work colleagues down and I was letting my parents down, who I care for a few days each week,” Kylie said.

“Then, on one particularly difficult day, Janet appeared at my bedside; I was just about to go and get some fresh air and she offered to join me.

“Janet’s attitude towards her job and her positivity were great; she picked me up and took me back to the bright, happy place that I prefer to be in.

“We sat in the hospital courtyard and had a quick chat before going through a residential checklist evaluation which ensured I could return to my home safely, and assessed any changes that might need to be made in my home. “

Kylie said having an occupational therapist provide advice before leaving hospital made her more confident with her transition home.

“I’m a planner so Janet was delighted that I was already thinking ahead about my house and how the injury would affect my day-to-day living. The checklist gave me a plan for both now and into the future, and we organised a home visit for the day of my discharge,” she said.

“I ended up being in hospital for 11 days and the day before I left I was quite anxious; I was desperate to go home but I was still in a lot of pain and was worried that I couldn’t walk.

“Once again, Janet appeared and picked my spirits and confidence back up again; she reminded me that I didn’t need to be superwoman at the moment, and they were there to help.

“The OTs remind you that you’re not alone and give you the confidence that you can still live your life.”

Kylie was also visited by the health service’s occupational therapy Hospital to Home program where staff completed an at-home assessment and liaised with her employer, Queensland Fire and Emergency Service (QFES), to help her safely work from home.

“Between the occupational therapy team, my manager and the QFES health and wellbeing officer, a plan was developed and I was able to continue working which was really important to me,” Kylie said.

Occupational therapist Janet Pountney said occupational therapy made a huge difference to patients in a hospital setting.

“As occupational therapists, our goal is to help people continue to live independent lives following an accident, injury or medical episode,” Janet said.

“Situations like Kylie’s are not unusual; a number of patients can find themselves unable to do the same activities following an accident or a medical episode such as a stroke, so we are here to help these patients continue to have active and independent lives.

“For Kylie, this has meant making some short-term changes to her home to help her continue to work while she recovers, but in other circumstances it can mean much longer-term rehabilitation where a patient may need to relearn how to do what used to be simple tasks like eating with utensils or showering themselves.

“No matter the injury the goal remains the same for a hospital-based occupational therapist; help patients get home safely and continue to live a fulfilled life, and have them not need to come back to hospital.”

Kylie said she was well on the way to recovery and would forever be grateful to the occupational therapists at Townsville University Hospital.

“Before this I’d never had any experiences with an OT but I honestly can’t speak highly enough of them; they were top notch,” Kylie said.

“Their attitude, empathy, and knowledge were amazing.”

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