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Jun 14, 2023

Meet Dianne from Northcott’s therapy team


Dianne is part of Northcott’s therapy team. As a physiotherapist, she provides assessments and ongoing physiotherapy across West and North-West Sydney. Dianne supports individuals and their families or carers to manage the everyday routines of people with disability to participate in daily life with minimal effort and imposition. She does this by assessing each individuals need for equipment and training to support bodily movement and function.

We asked Dianne to answer a few questions to find out more about her. Check out her answers below!

Why did you want to become a therapist?

I wanted to work in a field that would help improve the quality of life for others. I wanted to do an active job, not sitting behind a desk. I was interested in the way the body worked and how you could learn different sports and skills.

Tell us a bit about physiotherapy

The field of physiotherapy covers anything that has to do with a person’s body and its role in helping a person function in this world. That could mean performing at an elite athletic level or being comfortable in a body that is no longer able to carry itself around.

Physiotherapists consider all body systems and how they work together to help people meet their goals and needs. We look at joints and muscles, nerves and brain function, co-ordination and strength, fitness and skills. We look at development and injury, pain and paralysis and its effect on function.

How do you think you help support people with disability?

I work collaboratively with people with disability, their family and carers, and listen to what their specific needs and goals are, in order to participate in life in the community.

People with a disability have broad ranging needs from basic maintenance of flexibility, strength, fitness and to prevent secondary issues around pressure, stiffness, overall health and wellbeing. Others have specific goals to regain lost skills after an accident, illness or as developmental goals. For some, physiotherapy can support individuals through deteriorating physical health.

Tell us about your experience

My first experience with a young child with severe disability was as a student physio at the Children’s Hospital 40 years ago. Sheridan was a 3-year-old girl with cerebral palsy, admitted because of ‘failure to thrive’.

She lay helpless on her back in the cot -stiff in extension and my job was to just spend time with her and see what I could do with her. I picked her up and supported her on my lap as best I could. When she relaxed in my arms and gave me the biggest smile, I knew that I could do something to make this little girl’s experience in that moment better. This planted the seed in my heart to know that every child can be supported .

Since then I have worked with premature babes in neonatal intensive care through to school aged children, teenagers and adults in the community, aged care and palliative care. My goal is to enhance the quality of life for the person in any way I can, and to enable the carers to feel confident in their own skills and relationships in any daily routines or exceptional experiences.

What’s your favourite part of your job?

I love the playfulness of working with young children and see them develop with confidence in their own skills.
I love the experience in aquatic physiotherapy of sharing the freedom of movement in the water for those whose ability to move on land is limited.

Tell us about a customer you’ve worked with

When we entered the family home, there was a little girl lying on her back on the floor looking miserable. Her mum said “Good luck , she doesn’t like people”! I asked “what does she like”? Her mum then say she likes her sister sitting with her and the alphabet song.

I suggested her sister sit on the floor with her and sing the song to her. I sat on the couch opposite and started to join in the song. The little girl would stop crying momentarily and look across at me singing and then return to the sister.
Gradually, I snuck down off the couch onto the floor and slowly shuffled across towards the girl singing the same song over and over with her sister. Over 40 minutes, she settled and gradually let me touch her toes.

Recognising that she was tolerating this, I gave her leg a massage and worked closer up to her arms and eventually she allowed me to give her shoulders a sensory squeeze. By the end of the session, she was happy enough to sit on my knee.

The mum was amazed, but I reflected that it was all about me reaching out to her slowly on her level with the thing that was of interest and acceptable to her, to build trust and an invitation to make a connection with her.

From that point, the customer learnt to sit up on her own, crawl, pull to stand and at now, at 4 years old, she is still establishing confidence to walk with assistance.

The customer’s Mum said, “Di, you have very high expectations – in a good way.” I recognise the customer’s capability to meet those challenges. The next challenge is to get her walking by the time she starts school next year!

Are you looking for support?

The Northcott Therapy team are a group of experienced and highly skilled professionals who work together to provide a range of services, catering to the needs of children, teenagers and adults. The team offer personalised services to individuals and those that support them, to help them achieve their goals. Dianne currently has availability Monday – Wednesday. Call 1800 700 649 to receive physiotherapy from Dianne.

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If you have any questions, please speak to your Service Manager, Service Coordinator or call us on 1800 818 286.