Spotlight on Yooralla’s Physiotherapists – supporting inclusion in fitness and recreational activities

What Anne-Marie loves about her role is “supporting individuals to have the best outcomes they can. I see the benefits of it and see the gains people get when they access appropriate and good assistive technology."

With World Physiotherapy Day approaching on 8 September, we caught up with two of Yooralla’s passionate paediatric physiotherapists to understand more about how they support Yooralla’s youngest customers to achieve their goals and why they love their jobs. Here is our second physiotherapist profile.

Anne-Marie Dickinson is a Senior Clinician Physiotherapist for Yooralla, having started with Yooralla as a physiotherapy key worker nine years ago. Anne-Marie’s passion project is Yooralla’s aquatic physiotherapy program which she started in Melbourne’s West in 2018.

“Very important to me is supporting inclusion in mainstream settings such as childcare, kinder and school, and also trying to support access to more fitness and recreational activities. I do aquatic physiotherapy – part of that is also trying to get children involved in going to the pool as well,” Anne-Marie said.

Other work Anne-Marie does in the fitness and recreation space includes prescribing tricycles through the NDIS and developing riding profiles to develop riding skills for people with additional physical needs.

What Anne-Marie loves about her role is “supporting individuals to have the best outcomes they can. Supporting inclusion is very important to me, so supporting individuals to be included in all areas of the community, and also assistive technology prescription I enjoy. I see the benefits of it and see the gains people get when they access appropriate and good assistive technology,” she said.

Since the introduction of the NDIS, Anne-Marie is seeing more support for longevity of care. This means she’s getting to work with children and families for longer, as people are now getting funding for therapy for longer.

She enjoys developing relationships with other therapists and support networks to support our customers to achieve their goals, and “developing relationships with families and children, because for me most of my caseload is ongoing, so you develop quite strong relationship and networks,” she said.

Anne-Marie has been working with a 7-year-old boy since he was one, who “has severe additional needs, has very little active movement and communication and he has health problems as well. But he has an amazing family that never think anything is too hard.”

“We managed to connect with a fantastic kinder that did an excellent job with him. He loved the songs they sang, loved story time - was very well included. I used to visit him there, they were lovely. There was a particular little boy who would come over and give him toys and ask how he was going today. He’s now moved on to a special school, so we were able to support [the family] with school transition.

“Through NDIS we’ve been able to prescribe appropriate equipment to support him. He enjoys school and accesses aquatic therapy with us and accesses the pool at school as well – he loves it. He knows who I am, he loves being in the pool with me. It’s a great environment for him because on land he can’t really do as much.

Anne-Marie supported the child and his family in a number of ways, including with meetings, completing assessments, writing reports, and through the process of receiving his wheelchair so he could travel to school on the bus.

“I got to know the family, his brother. They know that they can call me. I see him for pool now, but also if they need any equipment or to access services, they know they can call me. They’ve also accessed Occupational Therapy and we’ve helped with home modifications. Anne-Marie also supported the child and his family through his transition to NDIS. Now the home modifications will be able to be done through the NDIS, which is a good thing. Previously it was a lot harder to access,” she said.

Anne-Marie said the NDIS aims to support people to live an ordinary life, and that with more support to access therapy and the proper assistive technology, people with disability can access more. She feels the introduction of the NDIS has been really positive and has resulted in expanding more therapy services for school aged children and adults, whereas previously therapy support for many people may have stopped once the child started school. “Adults had very little access to therapy, so now it’s one of the good things of the NDIS. Adults don’t get as much as children, but they do get more therapy now and are starting to get more assistive technology”.

Anne-Marie is supporting a young boy to access a powered wheelchair so he can achieve independent mobility at home, school and in the community. These trials have been a fun distraction during COVID-19 lockdown for this young boy and his brother and sister.

The therapy team is also working with a young boy who was funded through the NDIS for a soccer wheelchair. “Before the NDIS we would have had to look at other funding bodies. He currently has no access to recreation and sport, but once it comes, he will have that,” Anne-Marie said.

​​​​​​​Find out more about Yooralla’s early intervention supports for children.

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