Allied Health Service for Adults

Cootharinga’s Allied Health Service provides occupational therapy, speech pathology and physiotherapy to optimise and maintain the people we supports level of functioning in every aspect of their lives.

Cootharinga employs registered therapists to undertake Speech Pathology, Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy assessments and intervention, consistent with the persons needs and chosen goals.

People referred for therapy have two broad areas of need:

  • to enhance participation in activities of daily living (i.e. communication, mobility, eating, toileting, domestic)
  • and to maintain or improve their physical condition (i.e. spine, joints, muscles, lungs, skin/tissue, etc.).

The Therapy Service has the following objectives:

  • To assist the people we support, families and support staff to identify and prioritise their therapy needs
  • To undertake relevant speech pathology, occupational therapy and physiotherapy assessments
  • To determine type(s) of intervention required
  • To implement and evaluate therapy programs/strategies in conjunction with support staff
  • To contribute to the development of the people we supports Individual Lifestyle Plans.

The therapy team have also partnered with James Cook University Physiotherapy, Speech Pathology and Occupational Therapy departments to provide learning opportunities for students.

Occupational Therapy

The Occupational Therapist provides therapy to the people Cootharinga supports living within the community.

Within Cootharinga the Occupational Therapist provides support to individuals with disabilities and the people who support them. Emphasis is placed on increasing an individual's quality of life by promoting independence and participation in daily living skills, productivity and leisure activities.

Working as a member of a team, the Occupational Therapist works closely with the people we support as well as many other people, including the physiotherapist, speech pathologist, support staff, service managers and external health professionals to achieve optimal outcomes.

The occupational therapist works in the following areas:

  • Assessment of people we supports performance areas (self care, leisure, work and rest), and development of programs to assist them in achieving Individual Lifestyle goals and enhance their quality of life.
  • Participation in the development and implementation of staff training in areas of manual handling, back care, hoist training, equipment use and maintenance and pressure care, as well as staff training for the individualsprograms.
  • Promoting independence in self-care tasks through modification of task, environment and through the prescription and use of equipment and aids.
  • Liaising with Rehabilitation and Technology Service and physiotherapist to assist in positioning and modifications for wheelchairs and shower chairs.
  • Facilitating access to technological devices and communication aides.
  • Medical Aids subsidy Scheme (MASS) applications in the areas of mobility, daily living and continence aids.
  • Holiday planning through access to transport and accommodation and equipment required.

Speech Pathology

The Speech Pathologist provides services to the people Cootharinga supports living within the community. Speech Pathology, is designed to increase independence, participation, and functioning in all communicative contexts, as well as safety during mealtimes, with assessment of swallow ability and food consistency.

The people we support are assisted with individualised communication programs, often incorporating augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) methods. These may include personal communication dictionaries, communication devices, communication boards, object and picture symbols, and signing etc. Assessments and intervention programs are functional, meaningful, and motivating.

Assessments and recommendations for mealtimes (eating, drinking and swallowing) are also made to ensure the people we support are able to eat and drink safely by reducing the risk of aspiration.

Comprehensive staff training is provided in aspects of communication and mealtime assistance to Cootharinga's support workers.


The Physiotherapist assists with the maintenance of the person we supports well-being and independence. The Physiotherapist works with the therapy team, Service Managers, families, support staff, and external agencies to assist both the person we support and staff.

The Physiotherapist is involved with chest percussion and positioning programs, exercises, pain management, assistance with seating prescription, risk assessment,  training in orientation programs, on-job training with staff and the person we support, problem solving on issues, research, and updating information for persons well being, and manual handling procedures.

The physiotherapist is also involved in providing options for exercise such as developing aquatic therapy programs, running small group exercises and advocating for better access to community services (eg, gyms, pools).