Five-year-old St George boy Brodie Shepherd is on track to start prep next year thanks to occupational therapy and speech pathology provided locally by the South West Hospital and Health Service.
The health service's occupational therapy and speech pathology kindy screening process identified Brodie, 5, could benefit from the therapy before starting school in 2019. As a result, Brodie is receiving a range of services from occupational therapist Tess Worboys at St George Hospital.
Like Brodie, other clients from St George and surrounding towns can access Ms Worboys' expertise as an occupational therapist because of Queensland Health's Allied Health Rural Generalist Pathway. The pathway is an extensive development program that supports early career allied health professionals to broaden their scope of practice and advance their career while based in a rural or remote area.
After two years of intensive training and development in rural and remote occupational therapy practice, Ms Worboys successfully completed all the requirements of her development pathway and has been permanently appointed as the Senior Occupational Therapist in St George. "The pathway has encouraged me to complete a number of quality improvement initiatives such as reviewing the occupational therapy screening processes for kindergarten-age children in the South West Hospital and Health Service," Ms Worboys said. "I have been provided with many professional development opportunities in the pathway position and I’m now trained in several specialised areas such as feeding therapy for children with eating problems like picky eating."
Ms Worboys is also qualified to perform ADOS (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule) assessments to assist in the diagnosis of autism, and has completed specialised training enabling her to provide comprehensive lymphoedema management for clients with longterm swelling in their limbs. She has also built her skills in hand therapy; an in-demand service in many rural communities.
For one of her clients, Dale Fischer, using his hands is critical to his work. "I've been working with Dale on his rehabilitation following surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome," Ms Worboys said. "The local occupational therapy service in St George means he doesn't need to travel to the city to access hand therapy."
Tess's story has also been featured in the local newspaper, the Balonne Beacon.
South West HHS Chief Executive Linda Patat said the Rural Generalist Pathway was helping drive improvements in the delivery of allied health care in rural areas. "As part of our strategic plan over the next four years, our aim is to improve access to services and health outcomes for communities right across our region in the most efficient and effective manner possible," Ms Patat said. "The Allied Health Rural Generalist Pathway is one of many initiatives helping us pursue and achieve this goal for our communities."
Ms Worboys said completing the pathway has meant she can live and work in her home town and provide a service to a wide range of clients. "Some clients I work with I have known since I was a young child and I feel privileged to be able to help them and offer services in their home town, without them having to travel to larger regional or metro centres," she said.
Discover more of our leadership and professional development opportunities or more information on the Allied Health Profession's Office of Queensland.
PICTURED ABOVE: South West Hospital and Health Service St George occupational therapist Tess Worboys with five-year-old patient Brodie Shepherd and adult client Dale Fischer.