Regional occupational therapy services

How many of you have met Susanne providing regional occupational therapy services in the South-West region?

Susanne works out of our Bunbury Office alongside Assistive Technology Assistant Nicki. Susanne has been working with VisAbility for 20 years, providing regional occupational therapy support for people with low or no vison. As she has reached this work milestone, we thought we’d get to know her better.

Did you always want to be an occupational therapist?

No, my dream job was to be a backing singer for Van Morrison, but I knew that wasn’t achievable! I had a friend who was an occupational therapist and she loved her job. I was interested in people and human physiology, so I thought it would be a good match.

How did you become involved in regional occupational therapy services for the vision impaired?

I knew an OT who worked in regional occupational therapy in Albany and was leaving VisAbility, then known as the Association for the Blind WA. My training was exceptional. I had a manager who flew down to support me and I’d also travel to Perth. I then moved across to Bunbury.

Regional occupational therapist sits next to 93-year-old client Evelyn
Susanne and one of her regular clients Evelyn who’s 93

What’s the difference between working in a regional occupational therapy service and a big city?

It’s surprising how many clients you already know! It’s a small community and, sometimes, when I get a new referral, I’ll think to myself: ‘I recognise that name’. The longer drives to the outlying regional clients mean I get to explore some beautiful scenery.

There’s a certain amount of autonomy I enjoy, but I still value remote support from the VisAbility team.

I feel it’s a privilege to meet clients in their home environment helping them to achieve their goals and providing support that makes a real difference and becoming so involved in their lives.

How has OT changed since you graduated in 1979?

Assistive technology has progressed rapidly in leaps and bounds and has made a real difference to people with low or no vision.

In addition, the funding for low vision services has changed from block style to being fully accountable on all levels through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) (link opens in new window), so the referral process and service delivery is different.

What are your best tips as an occupational therapist?

  • Listening and prioritising goals with the client, then addressing the goals. Step by step is my mantra.
  • I live by the 5 B’s: Bigger, Bolder, Brighter, Better organised, Beyond vision.
  • For certain clients, appropriate tactile marking is always a winner.

What’s something we may not know about you?

I once cycled across the Steppes of Mongolia – fabulous but never again. If you want to get on the right side of me, buy me some lollies.

How to get support

We have regional therapists and some low vision support groups for people with low or no vision. These include:

  • Albany office (Great Southern). We have an occupational therapist and a visiting orientation and mobility service
  • Bunbury office (South-West). We have an occupational therapist and an orientation and mobility instructor based there.
  • Geraldton. We have a visiting occupational therapy service.
  • In other regions, we offer telehealth therapy services.
  • We also have low vision clinic optometry partners across regional areas including Mandurah, Bunbury, Busselton, Albany, Esperance, Geraldton, Karratha.

Please complete the form below to make an initial enquiry about the low vision services and support we can provide.

Our Client Experience Team will contact you to discuss your individual needs both now and into the future.

If you are a provider and wish to refer a client, please use our low vision medical certificate (online referral form) to make your referral.

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