Ms Debbie Roe1, Miss Erica Bleakley1
1Royal Darwin Hospital, Leanyer, Australia
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” -Marcel Proust
Having worked in a variety of different Occupational Therapy settings and then being fortunate to work in the Top End, assessment and treatment planning seemed to require a slightly different approach. Your threshold for safety and discharge planning become different. As always, your main goal is to help a person go home and formulate your plan to do so, however discharge destinations in the Top End can be a little different. What if your patient lived in a caravan and washed using a hose under the tree and had a drop dunny , or they lived in the ‘long grass’ and might disappear from hospital part way through assessment or treatment time and time again because they have a different concept of time and health care needs?
We hear regularly in the corridors of the Royal Darwin Hospital that practising Occupational Therapy in the Top End is a unique experience. It’s different, it’s like nothing like you have experienced before. We have to think of new ways of ‘doing’, which can seem unorthodox in other parts of Australia, and new ways of thinking in the field of Occupational Therapy. But what specifically makes clinical Occupational Therapy practice in the Top End so different? And are we equipping Occupational Therapists with the relevant tools to work in such a diverse place?
Debbie is a Senior Occupational Therapist at Royal Darwin Hospital. Debbie has been fortunate to work in a variety of clinical settings across the UK and Australia. However, nothing really prepared her for the rich diversity her current position brings her while working at Royal Darwin Hospital.
Erica Bleakley is an Occupational Therapist working with the Royal Darwin Hospital Trauma Service and the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre. She has over 10 years experience working in the Top End of the Northern Territory and a strong interest in culturally responsive Occupational Therapy practice.