What’s it like for new graduate OTs working in aged care?

Vivir Healthcare

Vivir Healthcare

24 January 2019


We asked our Senior Occupational Therapist, Jordan Labrooy, about what it was like to work in aged care as a new graduate. If you’re looking to develop initiative, a broad skill-set and open multiple career pathways, don’t miss what Jordan has to say.

When did you join Vivir?

I joined Vivir two years ago, as a new graduate occupational therapist. I now work in Melbourne’s Eastern suburbs.

What’s it like for graduate OTs looking for a job?

It can be daunting coming straight out from uni. You hear of other OT grads getting offers from their placements and it’s stressful because you don’t know if there’s a spot for you. You are suddenly part of a larger group of people who are competing for the same jobs as you are, and many of them have had time to develop broad skill-sets. So it was important for me to investigate all my options and look at roles in different settings, including aged care.

What are the clinical skills OTs have from university that they can use in aged care?

The frameworks you learn in uni allow you to apply your OT lens when working in aged care, particularly adding a more holistic and innovative approach to care. No matter what placements you had, be it mental health, paediatrics, or in burns [units], you were helping someone to complete functional tasks like walking, eating, sleeping; all the things we take for granted. OTs transfer these skills to the ageing population and excel in this field because they can look at the “big picture” when assessing these people.

What are the clinical areas OTs need to develop in to work in aged care?

All grad OTs need to develop their clinical reasoning to be sure of yourself. And expand your treatment modalities to maximise outcomes. There’s so many ways to apply your skill-set that in aged care, you make the role your own.

How has Vivir helped you to apply your skill-set?

The good thing about Vivir is that they allow you to flexibly evolve. You’re able to transfer your current skills, then also learn at your own pace. Vivir stress the importance of building rapport with others in your workplace, provide the best care possible, hone in on clinical reasoning skills, try different settings, extend your knowledge for example, your manual therapy skills, manual handling, exercise, mental health and dementia care.

What does a regular day for you look like?

My day consists of conducting the pain management program in residential facilities. I also have the opportunity to complete functional assessment work which is a mix of 1:1 therapy, liaising with the wider clinical team and family members of those living in residential aged care facilities.

Some days I’ve delivered 1:1 treatments to elderly living in their homes which gives further flexibility in my day.

Favourite part about your job?

Being able to observe the elderly people enjoying life.

Best thing about Vivir?

The supportive and flexible environment and great clinicians.

Biggest learning curve?

Implementing OT principles and therapy in this field. At times it can be difficult in a regulated environment which is ever-changing. My ongoing challenge is to advocate for OT in aged care which ultimately empowers the elderly and enables them to better participate in life.

Best advice to give a new graduate OT looking for a job in aged care?

Don’t be hesitant to jump into a role in aged care. For OTs whose ideal situation is a sub-acute hospital job, and don’t get that opportunity, it’s not the be-all and end-all. Aged care is a breeding ground for initiative. There’s a stigma that aged care is slow, every day is the same and that there is no learning and development but in actual fact, it’s one of the highest growing areas, with so many chances to improve your clinical skills. Most employers want to see that you’ve taken initiative to learn in any way you can, so don’t sit around waiting and just get your foot in the door.

What’s next after senior clinician?

Vivir has given me opportunities to improve clinically and professionally. I’m interested in education roles [and] I like the operational side of healthcare. I’ve been able to experience a lot of sides career-wise, so the sky’s the limit.

If you’d like to learn more about Vivir Healthcare’s Graduate Program, please contact us on 1300 184 847.