Occupational therapy is a health service that helps to solve the problems that interfere with a person’s ability to do the things that are important to them such as:
- Self-care - getting dressed, eating, moving around the house,
- Being productive - going to work or school, participating in the community, and
- Leisure activities - sports, gardening, social activities.
Who are Occupational Therapists (OTs) and where do they work?
Occupational Therapists are regulated health care professionals in Manitoba. Occupational Therapists are:
- University educated professionals that apply their specialized knowledge and skills to recommend a course of preventive or corrective action that will help people lead more productive and satisfying lives,
- Trained to understand not only the medical and physical limitations of a disability or injury, but also the psychosocial factors that affect the functioning of the whole person – their health and their wellness.
Occupational Therapists work in a variety of settings including:
Home and Community: Home care, private practices, health boards, community mental health services, clinics, halfway houses, groups homes.
Institutions: Hospitals, long term care facilities, rehabilitation centres, mental health centres, correctional institutions, schools.
Government: Consulting on all levels.
An OT will try to find out why a client cannot do what they would like or need to do. An OT may assess:
- Your physical abilities like strength, balance and coordination
- Your mental abilities like memory, coping strategies, organizational skills
- What materials or devices you use to participate in activities like furniture, utensils, tools or clothes
- What social and emotional support is available to you at home, school, work or in the community, and
- The physical setup of your house, classroom, workplace or other environment
Depending on what the problem is, an OT can help you solve it by:
1. Helping you manage or overcome your disability or injury. Occupational therapists do this by providing education or suggesting ways to maintain the abilities you have.
2. Adapting the materials you use. Occupational therapists do this by recommending equipment that can make your participation in activities easier (e.g. bath chair, sock aid).
3. Recommending changes to the environments where you do your everyday activities. Occupational therapists do this by suggesting changes to the layout of your home (e.g. installation of a ramp). They also advocate for universal design and inclusion of people with disabilities.
COVID-19 has necessitated sweeping changes to Occupational Therapy practice in Prairie Mountain Health but OTs are flexible and adaptable Health Care Professionals. They are still working hard to meet clients’ needs across health care settings even though it may take the form of providing virtual care or by wearing personal protective equipment. Occupational therapists are there for the patients they serve.