In April 2015, two therapists from Olivia’s Place, Irene Zhang (Occupational Therapist) and ZiLi Wang (Physical Therapist) spent 4 days at a welfare institute in Fuyang, Anhui, working to train the staff on various rehabilitation techniques and theories. The center was earlier visited by another member of Olivia’s Place staff, Jasmine Jia (Occupational Therapist), in October last year; this initial visit introduced the local staff to Western screening and treatment techniques and served as an important foundation to the training for this second visit.
The welfare institute is home to more than 150 children, many of whom have diagnoses requiring the attention of rehabilitation professionals. Conditions of children being treated included cerebral palsy, autism, Down Syndrome, and children with sensory needs.
Our therapists gave training on positioning and posture management techniques, adaptive equipment needs as well as specific hands-on techniques such as using upper and fine motor assessment tools and core strengthenin
g exercises. A team of 4 local rehabilitation therapists are on site to offer children daily therapy, and our therapists joined the treatment sessions to give hands-on advice in addition to giving lessons when not treating children. The management staff and ayis were also given training on the importance of postural care management.
The experience of working with the staff and children in Anhui was a very fulfilling and eye-opening experience for the team. “‘Working in a welfare center where there are so many children and so few therapists and resources, when compared with the individual treatment sessions I am used to and the comparative availability of resources in Shanghai forces you to change gears and loo at very simple, practical ways in which you can help the children and the staff caring for them,” commented Zi Li, “It makes you really realize the difference you can make in children’s lives.” This sentiment was also reflected by Irene. “To really change the way care is done in China for physically disabled children, one needs to look at the needs of the most disadvantaged – and really there are two worlds that we need to address. I think this was a very good initiative and think more should be done for these types of establishments.”