Regional Special Need/Disability Diagnostic & Treatment Centre – servicing the needs of persons living with disabilities

World Occupational Therapy Day is observed annually on October 27, to promote and celebrate occupational therapists around the world. To commemorate this significant day, this year’s theme was “Belong, Be You”.

Occupational Therapy (OT) is the use of particular activities that help to restore functionality from physical or mental illness.

In 2017, the course was introduced to the University of Guyana. Outside of that, five graduates of the programme conducted a workshop with the country’s 68 rehabilitation assistants, helping them to hone the skills already acquired over the years. Since then, the profession has made huge strides in the country.

Zoe Daniels, Occupational Therapist stationed at the Regional Special Need/Disability Diagnostic & Treatment Centre.

Occupational Therapist, Zoe Daniels, who is attached to the Regional Special Need/Disability Diagnostic & Treatment Centre, located in the compound of the Cyril Potter College of Education, shared her thoughts on this year’s observance.

“So basically, this theme, and I love this theme because for me, it is where we are giving the persons with disabilities an independent level. So, for the part belong it still shows that you belong in society and you belong here and be you.”

The Regional Special Need/Disability Diagnostic & Treatment Centre, came about from discussions at the Fourth CARICOM-Cuba Summit in 2011. After a few similar meetings, the first batch of persons was trained by Cuban Specialists and subsequently the doors of the Centre to stimulate children, youth and adolescents with special education needs associated with disabilities, was opened in January 2018.

The diagnostic centre has a wide range of services that can help the rehabilitation of patients.  Some of the services include mental health, ergonomics; which ensures furniture or daily living structures are catered to a person’s height, weight and other bodily features.

Geriatric therapy, is focused on the psychological and emotional needs of individuals over 60 years of age.  

Paediatric occupational therapy applies specialist approaches and techniques to maximise a child’s engagement, achievement and independence in all activities, including those at school, play, leisure and self-care skills such as dressing and feeding.

Alex Kurt, parent at the Regional Special Need/Disability Diagnostic & Treatment Centre.

Meanwhile, Alex Kurt, the father of a seven-year-old boy living with autism told DPI that his son has been receiving treatment at the centre for over a year. Over the course of time, Kurt said that he has recognised major improvements in his son’s behaviour.

“If you know anything about autism you would know that persons diagnosed have difficulty doing things for themselves like self-care, writing and so on, and the centre has really helped him in that area.

We have seen a tremendous improvement in his self-care in terms of him being able to dress himself, to go to the washroom whenever needed, to pull down, pull up, basic day to day functions.”

Parents, guardians and caretakers of persons receiving treatment at the facility are also offered guidance and advice on how to assist their loved ones in the absence of a therapist.

For persons requiring access to occupational therapy servicers, here are a few places to contact: The Regional Special Need/Disability Diagnostic & Treatment Centre, Ptolemy Reid Rehabilitation Centre, Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) Rehabilitation Department, West Demerara Regional Hospital and the Palms Geriatric Home.

There are five signs that may indicate when someone is in need of occupational therapy.

These include: Changed health conditions: This can be spotted after a person has undergone a recent surgery, significant illness or mobility changes. These can all create a need to learn new ways to manoeuvre around one’s home.

Minor falls/balance issues: This can be caused for concern if someone has fallen recently.  Falls are the leading cause of non-fatal and fatal injuries.

Growing concerns about independence: Persons wondering if they have the skills to be independent, meaning they are unable to dress themselves or to do basic upkeeps, then they are urged to consult a therapist.

Lack of hygiene:  If basic physical upkeep has become increasingly difficult for someone, then they are urged to consult a therapist.

Lack of interest/memory problems: Occupational therapy doesn’t just teach physical skills but mental ones as well. This could be beneficial to people who suffer from mental changes.

If you have noticed these signs from a loved one, occupational therapy can help.

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