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This month Alex asked us "What standardised tools do you use when completing an assistive technology trial?"
Derek Wang and Simon Cochrane from @OTSG loved the question so much they got excited and wrote over 1000 words.. So we've summarised the key points below!
Hi Alex, “Assistive Technology” is a broad and wide-ranging term which can often confuse participants as to what falls within this category. NDIS defines “Assistive Technology” as “any device or system that allows individuals to perform tasks they would otherwise be unable to do or increase the ease and safety with which tasks can be performed. Recent structural changes within the NDIS have removed the AT classification system (Goodbye to levels 1-4) and now introduced low, mid, and high-cost AT as well as low and high-risk items.
As AT Assessors, we must adhere to the AT Operational Guidelines set forth by the relevant funding body. In NDIS, all supports must meet the reasonable and necessary criteria, therefore AT trials are essential to identifying whether A) the AT relates to the participants disability, B) if the AT is right for the participant, C) is the identified AT value for money and D) is there another funding body that can fund the identified AT? We must take all this into consideration when starting the AT trial process. When completing Assistive Technology trials, it is important to follow a process. In order to complete an Assistive Technology trial, we must first gather the relevant information. The most pertinent way of gathering all the relevant information would be through the Functional Capacity Assessment as this would guide the practitioner recommendations of the potential Assistive Technology required. We often utilise a variety of standardised assessment tools, too many to list here (but you're welcome to visit our centre and we can walk you through them!), and that help to capture objectively the participants activity and skill based limitations, and identify areas for intervention before completing trials.
In order to then choose the correct AT to trial, it is also important to consider the persons anthropometric specifications, their environment, any formal or informal supports, transport of AT, and any other physical, cognitive or environmental factors that may influence the success of the AT.
Secondly, we must consider how the selected AT is going to work with the participants everyday activities. Whether the AT will improve the participant’s independence, safety or performance in tasks. Often we may complete multiple trials of AT in different environments, such as the home, shopping centres, in the community… to ensure the AT will meet the participants immediate and long-term needs.
Finally, once AT has been decided as the most appropriate, it is important to complete additional education and training to ensure the AT is being correctly used, and to determine whether the goals have been achieved.
A collaborative approach with the participants, formal and informal supports, other allied health practitioners, and family members is also important to ensure we have the best chance of a successful outcome.