01 Feb Health and Social Care Organisations Partner with Occupational Therapy Students to Benefit Community
Occupational Therapy students at Southern Cross University, in collaboration with community partners and academic staff, are encouraged to co-design learning experiences that address current industry challenges while providing undergraduate students with real world experiences in health and social care.
Through our innovative Live Ideas platform, community agencies can submit project ideas and connect with students who are seeking experiences in the field. Occupational Therapy students are trained to contribute to a broad range of health and social care services as they progress through their course. Some examples of community engagement projects include delivering parent training workshops on strategies for children with autism at local libraries and providing support to therapeutic horseback riding, surfing, sailing and other sporting programs for people with disabilities. Occupational Therapy students support local organisations to achieve valuable project outcomes such as developing online education programs for a local aged-care organisation, providing peer mentoring for adolescents who are experiencing mental health challenges, and developing evidenced-based patient education resources for local health services.
Community engaged learning has enabled the Occupational Therapy course at Southern Cross University to develop its regional engagement profile with the community by active “doing”, enabling local community services and students to be involved in the process of determining community need, establishing connections with new partners, and building a platform for future growth for the role of occupational therapy in collaborative partnerships between allied health students and community organisations in this region of Australia.
In reflection a student has summed the impact of her involvement in the project. ”I have found the community engaged learning program to be an amazing experience. I thought that I was well equipped from learning in class, but from being involved first hand and on a continual basis, it has opened my eyes as to what life is really like to have a child with autism. It has also assisted me in recognising the role OT can have in their school and home life. The concept of “family-centred practice” makes a lot more sense to me now and I am looking forward to graduating and devoting my time to make a difference in these children’s lives.”