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Healthcare Australia - Allied Health

  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

Koon-Siong Tan

Even within physiotherapy, there are many different environments (hospital, musculoskeletal private clinics, aged care etc.), so take the chance to find what it is that you want to do.

What's your job about?

We are employees of Healthcare Australia, and we are contracted out to different locations around Australia, where we provide pain management and mobility assessments, as well as manual handling training for other staff at residential aged care facilities. Each morning at work, we start our day with a small meeting amongst our physiotherapy team. We generally discuss referrals, new admissions, and other non-clinical tasks (manual handling training, documentation, other meetings, etc.). Following this, we assign each other residents that we must review due to hospital admissions, falls, mobility and pain referrals. A large portion of our morning is then dedicated to completing these reviews, before we move on to providing our treatments to residents on a pain management program. After completing several treatments, it will be roughly lunch time (midday), where our physiotherapy team tends to eat and have a laugh in the tea room or go out for a takeaway lunch. Once we’ve had our half-hour break, we try to complete a few treatments before we have to prepare the therapy gym for manual handling training for other staff at our facility. During these training sessions, we provide an educational talk on manual handling and falls prevention followed by a practical component where we demonstrate and later assess other staff members with their manual handling techniques. Once the training is finished, we go back to finishing off our treatments for residents, before we complete any outstanding documentation from the day.

What's your background?

I was born in Melbourne, where I grew up in the Eastern suburbs and went to school. Throughout my schooling life, I was granted many opportunities to travel and engage in various interests. These included travelling overseas both with family and school to places such as Thailand, Nepal, India, England, New Zealand, and the United States of America. During these trips, I was involved in volunteer work for local schools, learning and performing music, along with camping/hiking trips. I was also given the opportunity to participate in leadership roles, as well as playing many types of sports in a competitive setting. 

Following school, I was privileged enough to receive tertiary education from the University of Melbourne, where I graduated with a Bachelor of Science with a major in Genetics. Studying genetics made me realise I wanted to assist with improving peoples’ lives more directly. This led me to the profession of physiotherapy, where I studied in James Cook University in Townsville. 

Following graduation, I was able to gain employment with Healthcare Australia (HCA), where I am contracted out on a full time basis to work at a high care aged care facility with 2 other physiotherapists. I have been working here for 5 months now, and absolutely love it. I am able to collaborate with facility staff, families, and most importantly the residents here, to formulate and implement care plans to provide the highest level of care.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

I do not believe this to be the case. While people of other backgrounds may be able to perform therapeutic massage or mobility reviews, physiotherapists are trained in all of these aspects of our role. In addition to the clinical side of residential care, it is also imperative that the therapists are charismatic and have good communication skills in order to be as engaging as possible during treatments and other clinical assessments. Furthermore, teamwork, patience and good problem solving skills are of utmost importance when it comes to excelling in this job.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

I love that I am able to spend time with residents learning about their lives and listening to their stories while I am providing treatment. I also find it exceptionally fulfilling when I am able to teach people something that they previously did not know. In addition to the regular manual handling training that we provide, I often find myself taking the time to show the care staff how they can modify their approaches to certain cares for residents, thereby making life easier for themselves, but more importantly, improving the quality of care they are providing.

What are the limitations of your job?

There are a number of limitations of this specific job. The first of these is that our contract does not allow us to provide extensive assessments with exercise and rehabilitation for residents unless there is a specific reason such as a joint replacement or fracture. This is due to the current funding model for aged care, however this appears to be changing within the next few years with the new AN-ACC funding model focussing on improving the health of residents, rather than simply maintaining their functional capabilities. Additionally, the time available for manual handling training for staff is quite limited.

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

  • Enjoy the holidays while you have them. 
  • It is ok to be unsure of what you want to do in the future.
  • However, also do not waste the time. Dedicate part of your holidays to do some work experience (even if it is unpaid) in different fields. Even within physiotherapy, there are many different environments (hospital, musculoskeletal private clinics, aged care etc.), so take the chance to find what it is that you want to do. You may find a workplace that you enjoy, where the employer also sees a future for you there. Who knows?