Occupational Therapist – Palmerston Regional Hospital, Rehabilitation Centre, Darwin NT
We have been working in the Top End Health Service for nearly 5 years between us. In this time we have developed our knowledge and passion for providing quality culturally appropriate rehabilitation for all Territorians. We work within a broader multi-disciplinary team in the Top End Health Service of the Northern Territory. This involves servicing a unique caseload of predominantly neurological patients from a diverse range of socio-cultural and linguistic backgrounds, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in both rural and remote communities.
In comparison to our experiences of working with people with acquired brain injuries in metropolitan hospitals, our options for standardized assessments, appropriate goal setting and therapy, is limited. We have found that in the Northern Territory, working with clients with acquired brain injuries and their associated challenging behaviours is often overlaid with additional complexities of being removed from cultural, spiritual and physical homes.We have developed a strategy for goal-setting for cognitively impaired Indigenous Australians, based on previous general research in narrative learning and ‘yarning’ in these populations. This case study highlights the complexities of adapting Western approaches to rehabilitation, and the potential for ongoing research into this field to standardise and disseminate across Northern Australia.
‘I am the barracuda!’ Narrative goal-setting for Indigenous Australians in rehabilitation
Our presentation follows the journey of an Indigenous elder from remote Northern Territory, who suffered a stroke in community and was flown to the Royal Darwin Hospital for ongoing care and rehabilitation. Through video footage and storytelling, he and his wife give you an insight into the trauma and tribulations of an extended hospital admission – from ED, through to rehab, and finally home. Working with this client led us to develop a strategy for goal-setting for cognitively impaired Indigenous Australians, based on previous general research in narrative learning and ‘yarning’ in these populations. This case study highlights the complexities of adapting Western approaches to rehabilitation, introduces a narrative goal-setting tool for Indigenous clients, and reflects on culturally appropriate service delivery across the care continuum.