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Occupational therapists provide valuable support

Specialised team benefits people living with HIV in the community.

Two women standing socially distanced in front of Redfern Health Centre sign
SydneyConnect Image: Fiona Manning and Hannah McManus

Occupational therapists Fiona Manning and Hannah McManus are dedicated to bettering their clients' health and wellbeing.

"Our aim is to increase their participation in everyday activities, engagement in health care and independence to self-manage. It is rewarding to see our interventions benefit our clients and make a difference to their lives," Fiona said.

They're members of Positive Central - Sydney Local Health District's Community HIV Allied Health Team which provides comprehensive care and support for people living with HIV, their families and carers.

While there have been significant advances in HIV treatment, many of Positive Central's clients have complex underlying health conditions.

The team, which also includes social workers, physiotherapists and dietitians, provides case management, via home visits, at the Redfern Health Centre and other community spaces.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the team has pivoted to provide virtual care.

As occupational therapists, Fiona and Hannah assess clients' function and cognition, support them to manage everyday living and offer advice about ways to increase their safety and independence.

"We work with many of our clients long term and we can assist them to address their goals at their pace, building meaningful working relationships.

"Our role, which combines occupational therapy and case management, is dynamic and involves the opportunity to provide outreach into client's homes," Hannah said.

During Occupational Therapy Week, the District is acknowledging the valuable role occupational therapists play. This year's theme is Participation, Inclusion, Independence.

There are about 150 occupational therapists employed across the District's hospital, outpatient and community settings.

"Our occupational therapists collaborate with other health professionals to assess, diagnose and treat our patients. They help to improve their quality of life after illness or trauma or support a child's development," Sarah Whitney, the District's Director of Allied Health, said.

"During COVID-19, they've stepped up by adopting new models of care and developing innovative ways to continue to provide care for our patients and their families.

"They've been integral to the District's evolving response to the pandemic supporting Special Health Accommodation, vaccination centres and testing clinics - as well as continuing to care for those who need our support throughout the year," she said.

Fiona and Hannah are committed to supporting people to reach their potential.

"We feel privileged to be able to work with our diverse client group with varied support needs," Fiona said.

Positive Central's services are free and a referral isn't needed.

For more information, please phone (02) 9395 0444 or come into the Redfern Health Centre, 103-105 Redfern Street, Redfern.

The Centre is open between 830am - 5pm Monday to Friday.