Occupational Therapy – Skills for the job of living

Occupational Therapy – Skills for the job of living

I love my role on the home health team, because every day I get to help patients become empowered to be independent at home. The mission of Cascade Health Solutions, “to improve the quality of life in our community…” goes hand in hand with my expertise as an Occupational Therapist (OT). Every day, I have the pleasure of seeing patients succeed with improved quality of life in their own home.          

What exactly do I do as an OT in home health? I make sure a patient is equipped to be as active and independent as their condition will allow, which at first seems like a huge job in the midst of a new disease or medical condition. I am trained to address activities of daily living performance. I help patients analyze the demands of an activity, assess their current skills, and identify the right match of demands and skills to achieve optimal independence. As an OT it is important to accurately assess cognitive, psychological, sensory, and motor aspects of performance and tailor intervention plans to achieve favorable outcomes. Occupational therapy helps the elderly or compromised, and their caregivers, make their homes safe. These are proven interventions that can reduce home falls and accidents which helps older adults live better longer, and keeps them safe and independent in their own home.        

When I first meet a patient for an evaluation, I identify hindrances such as muscle strength, decreased coordination, sensory deficits, or an inability to bend or reach without losing one’s balance. Then I work with the patient to identify priorities for their own quality of life and I work with them on goals and a program to address these issues, adapting to the environment as necessary. It is important that I look at how the individual performs daily activities in the home environment so that recommendations and modifications are matched appropriately to the individual’s habits, routines, and meaningful activity.     

As an OT, I train and instruct patients on how to use specialized adaptive equipment and modified techniques that improve their ability to conduct daily activities such as eating, cooking, dressing, home management, and bathing. I may teach patients how to conserve their energy, improve their basic motor functions, work on reasoning abilities, or how to compensate for permanent lack of function. The goal of occupational therapy is to help patients lead independent, satisfying, and productive lives.     CawoodCHS 12.13.11 6630

I can also bring specialized knowledge that can enhance outcomes for particular patient medical conditions. For diabetic patients, for instance, an OT is qualified to address vision and sensory losses that often accompany diabetes and interfere with both diabetic management and general safety and independence. I successfully help patients identify techniques and adaptations to the environment to compensate for limited vision or loss of feeling.       

I can also develop a caregiver plan that clearly describes what the patient is expected to do and what the caregiver is expected to do in fulfilling the occupational therapy objectives. This provides the patient with opportunities to practice skills and techniques developed by the OT, while the caregiver’s presence assures that the task is done safely and effectively. I also provide support and training for the caregiver to help a patient with activities or exercise, and thus achieve improvement and increased independence more quickly.         

At Cascade Health Solutions, we are committed to the empowerment of our patients and their families. Supporting our mission, I promote well-being and self-respect by helping patients return to healthy living, take over their own care as soon as possible, and maximize their day-to-day independence. This is Occupational Therapy – skills for the job of living!

Larissa Treat, MOT, OTR/L is an OT licensed in the state of Oregon. She has worked as an OT for 13 years and has been a member of the Cascade Home Health team since September, 2011. She can be reached at ltreat@cascadehealth.org.