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the future

3.13 Use therapies to help people maintain independence

Supporting someone with socialising and doing activities outside the home

Speech therapy

Speech therapy is delivered by a trained health professional, known as a speech pathologist, who can help with communication. Speech therapy doesn’t just help with speech (e.g. pronunciation), but with all aspects of communication including expressing yourself, and understanding others. Speech pathologists can help with word-finding difficulties, when the person has trouble telling a story, or following a conversation. They sometimes work with family members and friends to improve two-way communication.

There is growing research on the benefits of speech therapy to improve the communication of people with dementia.


Occupational therapy

Occupational therapy is delivered by a trained health professional, known as an occupational therapist, who can help people manage their everyday activities. For example, they might help the person practise taking public transport, so they are confident and safe getting to the shops. They might help the person practise walking safely with a walking stick outside the house, and practise carrying the shopping home. They might help people use their smartphone for navigation using a map app, or to call a driver using a rideshare app.

Research studies consistently show that occupational therapy helps people with dementia keep doing things that are important to them and delays the need to go into a nursing home.


See the page 5.5 Types of Services on getting funding for speech and occupational therapy.


Get subsidised therapies

  • Ask your person’s GP for a Chronic Disease Management plan which provides subsidised visits to allied health professionals like occupational and speech therapists.
  • If your person has a Home Care package, ask your service provider about occupational and/or speech therapists as these can be paid for via the package.