Personalised therapy pays off for everyone

Dr Kylie Wales is reimagining how we assess clients’ individual occupational therapy needs, helping to improve their safety and life outcomes.

Kylie’s research is as empathetic as it is financially strategic, exploring how better assessment can help occupational therapists meet clients’ goals more effectively. This not only provides better value for the client, but also for the healthcare system.

“My research helps contribute to better client outcomes and safety through accurate assessment and focussed service delivery,” Kylie explains.

“This allows us to benchmark best practice and understand if we are achieving client goals. In other words, I research whether what we do as occupational therapists actually works!

“Measuring the effects of practices can help determine what occupational therapy interventions are effective and cost-effective. Then we know where health funds should be invested—creating more bang for your buck, so to speak.”

Ultimately, Kylie’s work is about getting the right therapy plan to the right person. By making therapy more individualised, clients can expect increased safety and better results.

“Not everyone is the same, so we shouldn’t treat them the same. There are also multiple ways to approach every challenge, so it’s really about finding out what best suits the client. The right approach can make all the difference in the world for them.”

Kylie’s research insights are sought-after. A recent systematic review titled “Functional Assessments Used by Occupational Therapists with Older Adults at Risk of Activity and Participation Limitations” was in the top one per cent of PLOS ONE’s most downloaded articles.

Far from being confined to the shelves, Kylie’s research is helping to influence occupational therapy practice nationwide. Her insights are empowering decision makers to allocate funding to treatments that both work and are cost-effective. One of her projects is helping to inform the use of standardised assessments in billable healthcare environments.

Recently, Kylie was acknowledged as one of the University of Newcastle’s up-and-coming researchers when she was invited to participate in the University’s ThinkWell Early and Mid-Career Women’s Development Program. Facilitated through the Faculty of Health and Medicine's Gender Equity Committee, the program targets high potential academics to build future research leaders.

For Kylie, that next stage includes working with Higher Degree Research students and building research and industry collaborations that take her innovative work global. Ultimately the goal is to progress the occupational therapy field.

“Alongside my research, I also love teaching; it gives me a great sense of achievement to see students develop their occupational therapy identities, gaining knowledge, skills and expertise. Turning out the best future occupational therapists possible is a very important part of the job.”

Kylie is a member of Occupational Therapy Australia, a previous Australian Post-Graduate Award winner and recipient of the Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research (CEPAR) Scholarship.

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.