SARRAH Conference 2018 – Guest Post – Working in Rural and Remote Queensland

This month, in honour of the SARRAH Conference 2018 which is focused this year on ‘Changing Landscapes, Changing Lives’ we have a Question and Answer Interview with Myles Chadwick – Psychologist working in Rural and Remote Queensland. 

rural and remote practice

Hi Myles, can you tell us a bit about yourself? (E.g. where you work, how long you have lived there etc.

Hi, my name is Myles. I am a General Psychologist working in the rural town of Emerald, QLD. I have been living and working here for nearly 3 years. Previous to this I lived and worked in Mount Isa, QLD for almost 2 years before moving here. I mainly work with under-privileged groups under funding to provide free treatment to the community and have done so since I started out as a provisional psychologist in 2013.

Why working in a rural area is rewarding?

For me, working in rural areas affords you opportunities that may not be granted within city limits. I find that there is a significant lack of services in rural locations, which means 2 things if you choose to work in these areas:

  1. You will be exposed to a wide variety of cases which in cities would often be shifted to other clinicians when they are slightly outside a clinicians comfort zone. This means that you are forced to constantly expand your learning through CPD and be aware of your limitations as the specialist is a minimum 3 hour drive away.
  2. Unfortunately the stigma associated with mental health is strong in rural areas. This may sound like a negative, but it gives you the opportunity to truly break the cycle, to have that realisation of how normal it is to struggle in a client’s eyes. I find those are the moments that truly make me feel that I am doing the right job for me.

    Why is working in a rural area challenging?

As I have said in the previous question, a lot of the time you are one of the handful of clinicians in your area, which means that if you cannot see a client due to scope of practice or ethical reasons, people expect justification. In small communities, there is the importance of you name, everyone from GP’s to the local mothers groups may speak about you, and as such you are always vigilant of your practice (which is a good thing). There is a strong emphasis on networking as you need to know what services are where (and they need to know you) to provide the best client care you can. 

What would you tell your younger self moving to a rural area?

Find a process that works for you!!!! The big thing about being in a rural area, is a lot of the time processes and procedures are still being developed. I made it my goal to be a little bit more technically savvy, which has allowed me to refine my note taking (sometimes the most arduous of tasks) to become more efficient. I also have a small drawer set on my desk with readily available resources (based on what my practice favours, everyone is different) rather than having to trawl through folders or the internet to find them.

What supports do you use as a clinician working in a small community?

All my supervisors have been in different towns, which has always made direct supervisory support difficult. However, there are always passionate and knowledgeable professionals in your community. The day I began to expand my support and supervisory team from only psychologists to include Occupational Therapists, Solicitors/Legal staff, Speech Therapists, Social workers and Administration Officers was the day I truly noticed how much there was for me to learn!

Why would you encourage clinicians to work in a rural and remote environment?

I would always recommend people try some time out in a rural setting, however the biggest hint I can give is KNOW YOURSELF! There will be times where you feel isolated, especially if you come from a close knit group of family and friends in a city (like me). However, the experience that you can get “out bush” is priceless and the time is what you make of it. Some people have called it a sink or swim environment, but I consider it a strong grounding experience where you see the limits of the system and decide whether you will be the change you want to see in the community.

What type of team do you work in? What about this works/ doesn’t work?

I currently work in a Psychologist only team, however I have worked in teams that have involved Occupational Therapists, Speech and Language Pathologists, Social Workers, Podiatrists, Dieticians, Exercise Physiologists, Physiotherapists, Doctors and Diabetes Educators. Working in these teams can be great as you start to get a more defined view of what holistic care can do for a client. However, always know where your role as I find that the main breakdown of these teams can be when each profession starts assuming the role of the other without consulting the professional in the field. Be humbled by the work of others, not assured that you could do it without the appropriate training.

Thank you Myles for giving us some insight into working in Rural and Remote Queensland!!

Check out our Rural and Remote Practice Page Here




Guest Post! How to make a schedule for a child with Autism

Today we have a guest post from Meg Proctor, an occupational therapist and autism specialist; focusing on schedule creation. Check her out www.learnplaythrive.com and sign up for her mailing list, or follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/MegProctorOT for more help with schedules and other daily routines.

Schedules:

If you’ve ever tried to make a schedule for a child with autism, you may have started out strong and then suddenly had lots of questions. Should I use pictures? Words? What should my child actually do with the schedule? What happens when it needs to change?

This infographic walks you through some of the questions you can ask your self as you individualize a schedule for your child’s learning style. I always recommend that families make the first draft “quick and dirty” in case you need to make changes. For most of us, once you laminate everything and make it pretty it’s hard to want to make changes.

Making a schedule can be a trial and error process. But once you make it, try teaching it to your child over the course of a few weeks and see what happens! If it works for them, you should see transitions start to get easier, and daily life may develop a new, relaxed rhythm.

Infographic:

Check out our blog post that builds on Meg’s ingorgraphic about Why Therapists want me to use visuals at home here.

For a range of free visuals check out our page here. 




Guest Post! Adapting Social Thinking – ISAAC Conference 2018

Kim will be presenting at the ISAAC Conference on the Gold Coast later this year.

“I was so excited to be offered the chance to speak at the next ISAAC Conference on the Gold Coast. The conference is for people who use and/or work with alternative and augmentative communication (AAC). AAC includes such methods as symbols, signs and speaking devices. When the conference is in the UK, I  usually attend and when I saw this conference was in Australia I jumped at the chance.

I love the innovative work coming out of Australia particularly in relation to PODD and I wanted to hear speakers from around the world. I will be presenting my work on adapting a methodology called Social Thinking for people using AAC.

Social Thinking is a fantastic resource and I wanted to use it with my caseload of students who are non verbal or minimally verbal. It is a cognitive-thinking approach so I wanted to see if I could adapt it without losing it’s unique essence.

The conference’s focus this year is ‘Access All Areas’ so I thought it would be ideal to present my work. I’m currently in the process of collating my work to date and liaising with Dr Pam Crooke at Social Thinking HQ so that I’m ready to present in July. Not long to go now so watch this space. I will be tweeting while I’m there and will keep everyone posted.”

The conference will be held on the Gold Coast this year from the 21-26 July 2018.

speech language pathology

Further Information:

ISSAC Conference

Kim Mears – TherapyThread

Social Thinking

Look Hear – Further Information:

Speech Pathology Page

Social Skills Page 

Kim and Tara work together at Whole Child Therapy in London.




RCOT Conference 2018 – How to build fine motor skills?

In Honor of RCOT 2018 and the focus on children and young people – we thought it would be the perfect time to touch base about fine motor skills!

How to Build Fine Motor Skills in Children

fine motor

Fine motor skills are the small movements, made predominately by our hands, that help us to manipulate objects and explore.

Children need to develop fine motor skills to help them to interact and engage with the world, as well as prepare for schooling (writing, painting, cooking, cutting).

Ideas to help develop fine motor skills:

  • Drawing with chalk on the concrete
  • Using play-dough and cutting with cutter
  • Writing letters shaving foam or sand
  • Using Lego to build shapes and letters
  • Cutting out magazines pictures
  • Eating finger foods
  • Playing musical instruments together
  • Helping out with house hold jobs e.g. hanging out the washing, sweeping
  • Playing with toys that have buttons
  • Using the child’s interests to write about or colour in

What makes it easier?

  • Playing together with Mum and Dadresources
  • Using big crayons, brushes, markers or chalk ensures children use the right muscles for the activity and are less likely to adopt incorrect grasps
  • Use thick outlines for colouring sheets
  • Smaller pieces of paper to cut
  • Do lots of activities that involve using both hands together

 

Further Information:

Fine Motor Page 

Resources related to Fine Motor 




Carers Week 2018 – Parents: Looking After Yourself as a Parent

TOPIC:

Looking after yourself as a parent!

parents

WHY:

We often talk about parents needing to look after themselves, but why is it so important? Firstly when we have healthy and happy Mums and Dads it is much easier to have happy and healthy
children. Further, we know from the evidence that parents of children with additional needs are more likely to have mental and physical ill health than their peers with children who are within typical ranges.

We use the Oxygen Mask analogy at LHA, parents need to put their mask on first. That way even if the child is in crisis, Mums and Dad’s are more able to respond to it as they are well. If they put the child’s mask on first and not their own, and then the child is in crisis; everyone is in a rather big pickle!

It is easy to say ‘look after yourself’ but much much harder to actually do it!

WHO:

Thinking about who can help can be challenging; we often say to parents to keep it simple. Further, where possible see what you can outsource to help you create more time for you.

Ideas of people to help outsource jobs include:

  • Online Shopping – make use of the “lists” functions for your regular shops, and work the deals so you can get free delivery. We find as a family this really cuts out time otherwise travelling to and from and completing the grocery shop. It also helps us to be more organised with meal preparation.
  • Cleaners – if you are able to outsource this, its amazing! If not, thinking about ways you can blitz clean to create more time; we do the bathroom before or after a shower, ensure the dishwasher is emptied first thing in the morning so it can be loaded throughout the day and then put on, we use a hand held vacuum to do regular spot cleans. Some families we work with have robot vacuums – a great idea if that will work for your family and budgets!
  • Babysitters – Having a regular slot once a month or every 2 months with a babysitter that is familiar with your child and their needs is a great way to create time. We often encourage families to set this up (even if it is with family or friends); sometimes just knowing you have a night off is enough to get you through!
  • Respite and support services – depending on your child’s levels of need you may be eligible for various community supports as their carers. Make sure you are aware of what is available to you in your area (your health care professional will know about this or will know who to ask!)

KEY TIPS:

  • Easier said that done
  • Making or taking 10 mins every day just for you (even if it is taking a shower, finishing a cup of tea before it goes cold)
  • Outsource what you can, use that extra time for you (not for other life admin work!)
  • You need to be healthy (mentally and physically) to be the best parent for your child; this is true for every child and every parent.

parent

FURTHER INFORMATION

 

Touch base with your support networks, but find out blog post about relaxation here.

You can also take a look at the Raising Children’s Network families page here.