It Takes A Village | Marathon Health
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Outreach Posted: 16 February 2023

It takes a village

The day begins to heat up as Kiyan, Occupational Therapist, drives to provide outreach in Gulgong. When she arrives, she will meet Ash, Speech Pathologist and Matt, Occupational Therapist, from our Bathurst office. Regional NSW is vast, and her other outreach adventures can extend to a three-hour drive, so a quick hour’s drive to Gulgong is welcomed.

Multiple lollypop people stop us on our journey – the roads are getting repaired after recent flooding. That’s one thing to note on a ‘outreach day’, regional Australia is rugged and temperamental so having patience with never-ending road works is needed.

We reach our destination and are taken back in time. Gulgong, once a large gold rush town is now a quaint country town. Its streets etched with cobblestone and lined with old buildings stuck in 1870. We arrive at Gulgong Public School – this is Kiyan’s office for the day.

Today, Ash, Matt and Kiyan are visiting siblings Fletcher, Jacob, Blake, and Sophie – each with their very own loud and happy personalities. However, the boys are on the autism spectrum and Sophie has a chronic disease that requires significant medical intervention.

The family couldn’t access help from their neighbouring town Mudgee, due to long wait times so they had no other options then to access help from places like Dubbo – which is over an hour away. Coordinating travel for four children on a good day is a challenge, which is why our outreach model is so important in bridging the gaps in healthcare access; so country Australians can see allied health professionals and get the support they need wherever they choose to live.

“I love outreach because I get to spend my day in a beautiful town, visiting my clients and understanding their home life. It is much easier for me to do my job when I understand my client’s everyday environment,” Kiyan says.

“Having outreach clients means I don’t get to see them as often as needed, so I place a lot of value on the Occupational Performance Coaching model – which is a collaborative approach to care using the support networks in the child’s life.

This means I upskill parents, teachers, and school learning support officer’s (SLSO) –the people that see the kids every day, to focus on what we can adapt to make therapy a part of everyday life,” Kiyan explains.

The Occupational Performance Coaching model works best when it’s driven by the families and support networks. Kiyan spoke with Blake’s teachers, who noticed he was struggling with motivation to attend to activities throughout the day.

“The teachers could see Blake becoming more alert after recess and lunch, so I worked with them to identify ways of incorporating big movements into his classroom routine to help Blake be alert and motivated throughout the day.

We identified that Blake could carry textbooks, help younger kids with moving chairs and use things already present in the classroom to implement the much needed, heavy work into his daily routine.”

Working with each support network for a client is imperative, it ensures that each outreach visit is insightful and resourceful and allows Kiyan to implement strategies that everyone can use so each child can make the most out of their day.

“The difference between city and country health is that I rely heavily on the child’s support networks, because I won’t be able to visit for another month, and it’s too far for them to see me. It really does take a village to ensure country kids have the quality of life they deserve.”

As the sleepy town of Gulgong shut up shop for the day, Kiyan travels back on the bumpy road to Dubbo. Another successful outreach day draws to a close – today each sibling had a visit from an occupational therapist and speech pathologist. It is days like today, and therapists like Kiyan that solidify the importance of outreaching to regional communities, so clients can continue to thrive wherever they choose to live.

Page last updated: 20 November 2023

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