The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is a program that provides support to people with disabilities in Australia. The aim of the NDIS is to provide people with disabilities with the necessary resources and support to improve their quality of life, promote independence, and help them achieve their goals. Occupational therapy (OT) plays a critical role in the NDIS by providing functional assessments to determine a person’s ability to perform activities of daily living (ADLs) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs). In this blog post, we will explore occupational therapy functional assessments and their role in the NDIS.
What is Occupational Therapy?
Occupational therapy is a healthcare profession that focuses on helping people achieve their goals by promoting independence and improving their ability to perform daily activities. Occupational therapists work with people of all ages who have physical, cognitive, or mental health conditions that affect their ability to perform everyday tasks. Primarily, the target of OT is to help people to fulfil their personal goals in areas of their lives that are most important to them. This is done through enhancing personal skills in various areas of life and/or changing the environment to better suit the person’s needs. Occupational therapists use a range of techniques and interventions to help their clients achieve their goals. These may include:
Assessment: Occupational therapists use various assessments to determine their client’s strengths and limitations, which helps them develop appropriate interventions. These are often standardised assessments where an individual’s results can be compared to the average outcomes of their age group.
Education: Occupational therapists educate their clients about their condition and how it affects their ability to perform daily activities. They also provide information about strategies and techniques to improve their performance.
Interventions: Occupational therapists develop and implement interventions to help their clients achieve their goals. These may include exercises, adaptive equipment, modifications to the environment, training in daily living skills, or recommendation for other supports and resources.
Collaboration: Occupational therapists work collaboratively with their clients, families, educators and other healthcare professionals to ensure the best possible outcomes for their clients.
Occupational Therapy Functional Assessments
Occupational therapy functional assessments are tools used by occupational therapists to evaluate a person’s ability to perform ADLs and IADLs. ADLs are basic self-care activities, such as bathing, dressing, and toileting. IADLs are more complex activities, such as cooking, cleaning, and managing finances. Occupational therapists use functional assessments to determine a person’s level of independence and identify any barriers to achieving their goals. There are many different types of functional assessments that occupational therapists may use, depending on the needs of their clients. Some common functional assessments used in the NDIS include:
The Katz Index of Independence in Activities of Daily Living: This assessment measures a person’s ability to perform six basic ADLs: bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring, continence, and feeding.
The Lawton Instrumental Activities of Daily Living Scale: This assessment measures a person’s ability to perform eight IADLs: using the telephone, shopping, preparing meals, doing housework, doing laundry, using transportation, handling finances, and taking medications.
The Assessment of Motor and Process Skills (AMPS): This assessment measures a person’s ability to perform ADLs and IADLs based on their motor and cognitive skills.
The Canadian Occupational Performance Measure (COPM): This assessment measures a person’s ability to perform activities that are important to them, as well as their satisfaction with their performance.
Vineland Assessment: This assessment explores the adaptive behaviour of people from birth to 90 years old. Therefore, it can cover the lifespan for most of the population. It looks at the domains of communication, daily living skills, motor skills, socialization and maladaptive behaviour.
Functional assessments are important in the NDIS because they provide a baseline measure of a person’s overall daily functioning and level of independence. This information is used to develop appropriate interventions to help the person achieve their goals and improve their quality of life. These assessments enable NDIS funding to be better directed towards the greatest areas of need for the person.
The Role of OT Assessments in the NDIS
Occupational therapy plays a critical role in the NDIS by providing functional assessments and interventions to help people with disabilities achieve their goals. Occupational therapists work collaboratively with their clients, families, and other healthcare professionals to develop individualized treatment plans that address the person’s unique needs. The NDIS often requests occupational therapy functional assessments to help structure a participant’s NDIS plan. As assessments involve looking at the person’s broad functioning capacity, it is effective in prioritizing the person’s needs. Functional assessments also incorporate the person’s goals as per their NDIS plan, to better align supports and services. How comprehensive an assessment is depends on available funding, the person’s needs, and their capacity to engage in the assessment. For example, people with severe cognitive disabilities may rely greatly on information from their family or carers.