Re­veals how an al­ter­na­tive path can be more re­ward­ing

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Oc­cu­pa­tional ther­apy stu­dent Trevor Richie wanted to work with chil­dren when he started study­ing at the Univer­sity of South Aus­tralia.

His course work place­ment, how­ever, was at ACH Group’s Ka­para res­i­den­tial care fa­cil­ity at Glenelg South.

‘‘ I hadn’t thought of work­ing in the aged care sec­tor but when the op­por­tu­nity to do a place­ment at Ka­para came up, I thought it could be in­ter­est­ing,’’ he says.

ACH Group of­fers stu­dents the chance to take part in clin­i­cal place­ments along­side other health pro­fes­sion­als to pro­vide a co­he­sive ap­proach to aged care and to turn re­search into ac­tion. ‘‘ At first I was ner­vous, es­pe­cially be­cause my knowl­edge about work­ing with peo­ple with mem­ory loss was limited and all I knew was what I had read in text books,’’ Richie says. ‘‘ As soon as I started work­ing with older peo­ple in the group ses­sions, my per­cep­tions changed. We sing, we dance, we learn new skills and we re­ally just have a good time to­gether.’’

Each worker’s abil­i­ties can bring unique ben­e­fits to

GOOD TIMES: their clients. ‘‘ At first I thought peo­ple with de­men­tia had lost their sense of self,’’ Richie says.

‘‘ Now, I un­der­stand they haven’t lost it, it’s just a bit harder for them to find it. The things we do of­fer op­por­tu­ni­ties to reignite old pas­sions and de­velop new ones.’’ It may help to talk to pa­tients about what they gain from the ex­pe­ri­ence.

Dorothy Cooper, who at­tends the ses­sions at Ka­para, says she looks for­ward to them ev­ery week.

‘‘ Trevor is re­ally easy to talk to and I don’t like to miss out on the ses­sions,’’ she says.

Richie says the place­ment also taught him about work­ing with other health pro­fes­sion­als.

‘‘ I have a deeper un­der­stand­ing and ap­pre­ci­a­tion for what car­ers, nurses and other med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als do and I feel more pre­pared to be able to work with them as a team,’’ he says.

‘‘ I also be­lieve stu­dents bring a fresh ap­proach to the work­force which can be very ben­e­fi­cial to the older peo­ple and se­nior pro­fes­sion­als. The place­ment opened my mind.’’

Oc­cu­pa­tional ther­apy stu­dent Trevor Richie with client Dorothy Cooper at Ka­para

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