Rockhampton's ageing population needs safe homes

19 July 2023
CQUniversity Occupational Health Clinical Educator with students Sarah Smith and Jessica Goody along with client Ann Healy inside the CQUniversity Health Clinic in Rockhampton.
Occupational Therapy students Sarah Smith and Jessica Goody provide advice to client Ann Healy under the supervision of Clinical Educator Renee Rose

As people age, the way they conduct life can change, and many people may need a little help in adjusting to these changes. 

That’s when an occupational therapist (OT) can step in to help.

According to Occupational Therapy Clinical Educator Renee Rose from the CQUniversity Health Clinic, occupational therapists form a crucial part of the health team that can help our aging population live independently, but it’s not always easy to access their services.

“The region is witnessing very high demand for these type of services with people on long waiting lists to access professionals,” Ms Rose said.

However, CQUniversity’s occupational therapy students, under the guidance and supervision of fully qualified OTs, are helping to address the shortage in services and are now conducting home safety assessments throughout the Rockhampton region.

“One of the biggest hurdles our elderly face when living independently is feeling and being safe in their own homes,” explained Ms Rose.

“Our occupational therapy students can provide an assessment of a client’s living arrangements and provide advice on modifications or prescribe equipment than can help them maintain independence or be more independent.

“This may include environmental considerations such as nighttime lighting, flooring safety, entries and exists, mats and clutter, and equipment such as an over-the-toilet frame or shower stool. The students can refer clients to a mobility appliance store with the suggested items.

“Students can also provide some personal recommendations, for example suggesting talking to their pharmacist about using a Webster pack for their medications or accessing other professionals such as dieticians, physiotherapists and podiatrists.”

In addition to meeting community needs for OT services, the home safety assessments also provide an adult learning scope for the CQUniversity students.

“Historically, the CQUniversity Health Clinic only offered pediatric services, whereas now we are focusing on education surrounding generalist OT skills across various assessment and intervention domains,” Ms Rose said.

The CQUniversity student home safety assessment and report costs $55.

For appointments and more information phone 49309030 or email

Occupational Therapy students provide home assessments for clients in Rockhampton


Essentially what our goal is is to help people to achieve the things they want and need to do and that can be throughout the lifespan so we help perhaps kiddos achieve their developmental Milestones or putting supports in place to to enable their lifestyle participation or it might be helping someone to get back to work or help someone to function with their hands so you find us in all sorts of weird and wonderful types of roles within the community yeah so historically within the clinic we've offered a pediatric occupational therapy service and we decided we'd try to extend the scope to I guess increase the observational opportunities and practice opportunities for the students and we thought including an adult scope including home visits would be a really nice way for them to practice those skills within the home environment there's also a lot of need within the community as well OTS are in hot demand and therefore getting a pre-operative home assessment as an example is quite challenging so we thought we could meet the community need in addition to offering the students the extended scope of practice opportunities it's so great um yeah everyone's lovely all the people are just like here to help want you to learn like their passion is to make us as educated as possible and you can feel that like even with the other Educators that don't have anything to do with OT if we're looking lost or whatever like they're they're ready and rare in to give us a hand which is awesome so before studying OT I was out at the mines driving truck so an operator I actually had a back injury out at work four and a half years ago and I worked with an OT really closely she was really helpful in my recovery and I decided that that would be a really good career pathway yeah so we've got two students at any given time they're here for a 10-week block so at the moment I've got third year students but they can also be fourth year students completing the assessments yeah so we've also opened up a hand therapy clinic so um two afternoons a week we're offering Hand Therapy assessments and interventions so that's where people present with some sort of hand pain or dysfunction and we'll sit with the client and problem solve our way through how we can how we can help them that might be introducing an exercise program it might be introducing a splinter or an orthosis or yeah just generally doing giving them some functional advice around how to manage what what they've got I've been so impressed with the kindness and the um and the carefulness and the knowledge and I really feel I'm getting some you know really useful advice as well as practical help in getting on with my life and enjoying the things I like to do we're turning out high quality graduates I know that I lecture um for a third year subject as well and I'm really impressed with the quality of students that we have a lot of our students are also employed as OT assistants already or support workers or you know there's some sort of involvement within the health field as well so they're graduating with these wonderful placements in addition to that lived work experience and they can essentially hit the ground running with appropriate mentorship in place just like I can't believe an OT can do that there's so many things that a note can do that I didn't know they could do so it's awesome the world is my oyster I've heard that a lot