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

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

“I have a passion for working with people living with dementia,” she says. “I have found I have the empathy and compassion needed to care for these special individuals.”

A Pretoria resident, Corlia became part of the Rand Aid Association team on August 5, 2019.

She says she hopes to bring a personal touch to the occupational therapy department and intends being 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.”

Corlia 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,” says Corlia.

A practising occupational therapist for over 20 years, Corlia studied Occupational Therapy at the University of Pretoria after matriculating at Hoёrskool 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,” she says.

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

Corlia Schutte, Ron Smith Care Centre’s new occupational therapist.

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