“We help patients to live the life they deserve”: How western Sydney occupational therapists make for holistic patient care

Blacktown Hospital occupational therapist Aleshia Malouf celebrates Occupational Therapy Week

From a young age, Blacktown Hospital occupational therapist Aleshia Malouf knew she wanted to help people. After taking an interest in health science at school, it only seemed fit to combine her two passions.

Aleshia has only been working at Blacktown Hospital for 12 months and said that she could never have imagined her role as an occupational therapist (OT) would be so rewarding when leaving university.  

“I treat patients in hospital wards such as orthopaedics, aged care, cardiology, and respiratory – our main aim to enable them to do activities that they need to do in everyday life,” Aleshia said. 

“University is very theory-driven, but being out here, on the ward is a whole different ball game – you really have to adapt to the individual patient and take a holistic approach to their care. 

“In our role, we often find that many patients are medically okay but they still cannot do crucial things and daily tasks that they need to be able to do once they go home. We need to ensure that they are not only functionally stable but mentally and emotionally stable as well.”

Blacktown Hospital occupational therapist Aleshia Malouf

This week, October 25 through 31, is Occupational Therapy Week – a week to shine a light on and celebrate the dedication and professionalism of OTs throughout Western Sydney Local Health District (WLSHD) and internationally. 

OTs work with people of all ages who have physical, social or mental health needs. They often assist with rehabilitation, pain management, home modifications and equipment prescriptions, amongst other things.

This year’s OT Week theme is participation, inclusion, and independence – a theme that Aleshia said represents what OTs in WSLHD do every day.

“We are so privileged that we get to work with so many people from so many walks of life,” she reflected.

“People often think we just prescribe equipment, but we do so much more than that! We look into every aspect of a patient’s life, short term and long term,

“In my short time here, I already have met patients that will stick with me forever. I like to think OTs are unsung heroes of our hospital… medical staff save lives, but we help patients to live the life they deserve.”

Westmead Hospital Occupational Therapy team. Photo taken before mask and goggle requirements in hospitals.

WSLHD Allied Health director Jacqueline Dominish said that the occupational therapy department, like all allied health professionals, has stepped up to the plate throughout the last 18 months, highlighting that their work is vital to keep our hospitals running. 

“Occupational therapy is highly skilled and an empathetic profession and truly shines a light on the human side of healthcare,” Jacqueline said. 

“Our team has adapted to new ways of treating patients during COVID-19, but they ensured their needs were always met and that the patients were always at the forefront of their care. I am extremely proud to lead this dedicated workforce.”

Thank you to all the occupational therapists throughout the WSLHD. To read more about OT week and how you can get involved, click here.