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New OT focuses on people’s strengths rather than their weaknesses

LYNDHURST – The new Ron Smith Care Centre occupational therapist believes in tailored stimulation for people living with dementia.

Ron Smith Care Centre’s new occupational therapist (OT), Corlia Schutte, believes that people living with dementia need to have a sense of independence and the right level of stimulation.

“I have a passion for working with people living with dementia,” she said.

Schutte said she had found that she has the empathy and compassion needed to care for those special individuals. Schutte, previously from Pretoria, became part of the Rand Aid Association team on 5 August.

She hopes to bring a personal touch to the occupational therapy department and intends to be as hands-on as possible. She would also like to grow the therapeutic programme at Riverlodge 3 – the care centre’s special dementia wing. “Sensory stimulation is very important when it comes to the care of frail elders and I would like to be involved in the training of care workers and volunteers in this regard. It is important in dementia care to ensure that a person is stimulated according to their individual and constantly evolving needs.”

Schutte admires dementia-care education specialist Teepa Snow’s approach, which recognises the dynamic nature of the human brain and its abilities. “She advocates that we should focus on what a person can do, rather than what they cannot,” she said.

A practising occupational therapist for over 20 years, Schutte studied occupational therapy at the University of Pretoria after matriculating at Hoërskool Randburg in 1991.

“I worked in paediatrics for many years but changed direction when I was appointed as an occupational therapist at Ons Tuis old age home. I then worked at Livewell Villages for two years, also as an OT. My time at these establishments cemented my interest in the care of elders.”

Debbie Christen, Rand Aid’s recreational programmes manager, who arranges wonderful social and enrichment programmes for residents of the care centre, said, “Corlia will enrich our existing programmes and bring skills and talents to the care centre that will strengthen and benefit all.”

Details: Ron Smith Care Centre 011 882 6296.

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