Can you do online occupational therapy assessments at Umbo?

Across Australia, many people are facing long wait times for speech and occupational therapy. Wait times are frustrating for anyone, but they’re particularly frustrating if they’re preventing you from taking the next step with therapy.

Occupational therapy (OT) assessments can be crucial for unlocking funding, getting therapy started, or even just understanding what is going on. 

At Umbo, we’ve been doing online OT and speech therapy since 2018. We’ve worked out how to do many assessments online, well before the pandemic started. Through a bit of creativity, and a bit of help on the other end of the video call, most OT assessments can be done online.

This is great news for everyone. It means that people don’t need to wait to find a therapist to drive out to see them. Also, even people in remote parts of the country can get access to an assessment almost instantly.

Types of Assessments

At Umbo, we categorise our OT assessments into 3 categories:

  • Green assessments are those that can be done online at Umbo with next to no caveats.
  • Amber assessments are those that require further information/support to be completed via telehealth, usually at the other end of the call to the occupational therapist.
  • Red assessments are those that cannot be done via telehealth, and need to be referred on to a face to face service.

Green Assessments

These assessments can be done online at Umbo with next to no caveats.

Areas of NeedAssessment TypesDescriptionSpecific assessments we might use
MotorFine and Gross Motor AssessmentsThe assessment of motor skills that enable the movements and tasks completed on a daily basis.

The therapist will assess the client’s fine and gross motor abilities, i.e., the ability to complete movements that require the use of the small muscles in the hand and large muscles in the body, respectively.
Clinical Observations and activity-based assessments
MotorVisuo-Motor Integration AssessmentThe assessment of visual perception and motor coordination skills and the integration of the two, that allows effective communication between the eyes and other parts of the body so that a person is able to complete tasks such as copying, drawing, kicking a ball, etc.Beery Buktenica Developmental Test of Visual-Motor Integration (Beery VMI)
MotorHandwriting AssessmentThe assessment of a person’s handwriting to determine areas that require support or further intervention.

The therapist will assess handwriting components such as pencil grasp, legibility, speed, pressure, etc.
Clinical Observations and activity-based assessments
SensorySensory Processing and Sensory Integration AssessmentThe assessment of a person’s ability to effectively register and accurately interpret the sensory input in their environment.

The therapist will assess the client’s ability to receive, organise and respond to sensory input to behave in a meaningful and consistent manner.
Sensory Profile 2
DevelopmentalDevelopmental assessmentAssessments completed to evaluate a child’s physical, intellectual, language, social and emotional development.

The therapist may complete this assessment to first identify the areas of need following each, other assessments may be completed to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the child’s performance in the areas identified.
Developmental Milestone checklist, screening questions, etc.
Social/EmotionalBehavioural/Emotional AssessmentAssessment used to determine behavioural and emotional strengths and weaknesses of clients.Clinical Observation, Parent Interviews, Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale – 21 (DASS -21),
Cognition/Adaptive BehaviourCognitive AssessmentThe assessment of a client’s cognitive skills that includes components of cognition such as attention and concentration, language, learning, memory, perception and problem solving.Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE), Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA), activity-based assessment, etc.
Cognition/Adaptive BehaviourAdaptive Behaviour AssessmentThe assessment of a client’s adaptive behaviour in different functional areas such as daily living skills, communication, social skills, etc.Vineland 3 and ABAS
Activities of Daily LivingFunctional AssessmentThe assessment of a person’s functioning and ability to perform everyday tasks in a safe manner.Functional Capacity Assessment, WHODAS, other activity-based assessments

Other Assessments and Interventions that can be done via telehealth:

  • Assistive Technology (AT) Assessment
  • Housing Options Assessment
  • Manual Handling Assessment
  • Energy Conservation and Fatigue Management

If you are needing any of these assessments, or know someone who does, feel free to pop a request for therapy in via this page.

Amber Assessments

Amber assessments are those that require further information/support to be completed via telehealth, usually at the other end of the call to the occupational therapist:

Assessment TypeInformation/Support Required
Home Safety/Modification Assessment

This includes advice to make the home environment safer by removing hazards and advice for minor modifications, which are straight forward non-structural changes that will not change the supporting structure to the home. These can include:
– Grab rails in areas such as the doorway entrances, bathroom or toilet
– Modifying tapware in bathroom and kitchens
– Handrails at steps paths
– Non-slip flooring
– Simple ramps

The suitability for home safety and modifications recommendations to be completed online will be determined by the Occupational therapist.

It is essential that a support person on the client’s end is available to help with measurements and manipulate the camera to show the environment to the therapist.

If modifications are required, the support person must have experience using a tape measure and the skills required to provide accurate and consistent measurements. This will be determined by the Occupational therapist at the time.

It is recommended that photos or videos are provided to the Occupational therapist prior to the assessment to help with determining whether home safety and modification recommendations can be completed online.

Please note that complex modifications (i.e. large ramps, lifts/elevators, major bathroom and kitchen modifications) cannot be done online by an Umbo therapist as there are structural and custom-built changes required to the home environment.

They are higher risk and higher cost compared to minor home modifications. It is recommended complex home modifications are completed by a face-to-face Occupational therapist who can conduct a comprehensive assessment and complete the required documentation in person.

The Occupational therapist at Umbo, may be able to assist with providing temporary suggestions to make the home environment safer or more accessible for the client whilst awaiting for a face-to-face Occupational therapist.
Equipment Safety/Suitability Assessment

This includes assessing the client’s safety/suitability for:
– Shower chair/stool
– Electric recliner lift chairs
– Over toilet aids
– High back chairs 
– Seating options*
Where possible, equipment suppliers would be able to assist with trialling equipment with clients and setting them up while collaborating with the therapist.

*If pressure injury assessments are required for prescribing pressure care equipment, it is crucial for a health professional such as a nurse to be present to provide accurate details and photos (where necessary) of the pressure area to ensure the appropriate prescription of pressure care equipment.

Where this is not possible, accurate assessment results regarding the pressure injury from a health professional will be considered, however, this may differ from one client to another depending on the nature and level of the pressure injury.
Falls AssessmentA support person is required on the client’s end to take accurate pictures or manipulate the camera to show the client’s environment to the therapist.
Hand Therapy AssessmentsFurther information required on the nature of injury and level of support needed to determine suitability of telehealth.
Support Independent Living (SIL) AssessmentsSIL (Supported Independent Living) is an onsite support model which helps an individual to live at home safely and independently, generally these individuals require some level of support 24/7.

This may include passive or active overnight support in the person’s home. Information/support required: A support person who has detailed knowledge on the client’s level of function and support needs across a 24 hour period is essential.

Similar to what is required during a functional assessment, a support person is recommended to assist in information gathering such as helping to position the camera during a meal preparation assessment if required.

Contextual information on past accommodation history (if known) is also desirable.

If you would like more information about what kind of support we require to conduct these assessments, feel free to get in touch via our website. We’d be more than happy to discuss with you how to make these happen!

Red Assessments

Red assessments are those that cannot be done via telehealth, and need to be referred on to a face to face service:

  • Driving assessments – these require a person to be in the car at the time
  • SDA (Supported Disability Accommodation): includes a range of specially designed housing options to support individuals to live independently eg. a home which is wheelchair accessible for a person with high physical support needs. Due to the complexity of these assessments, we cannot currently do them at Umbo online.
  • Scooter assessments – these require a therapist in person to be completed.
  • Wheelchair assessments – Due to their complexity, wheelchair assessments cannot be done online.

It’s clear from the above that the number of OT assessments that can be done online far outweighs those which can’t. This is great news. It means more people can access the support they need, regardless of where they live. And at Umbo, giving people access to therapy is built into our DNA.