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Occupational therapists find innovative ways to help clients manage their day-to-day activities

September 30, 2013

At Women's College Hospital (WCH), our healthcare professionals are dedicated to improving healthcare and developing new models of integrated care to help keep people out of hospital. That's why it's no surprise that the team of occupational therapists (OT) at WCH is finding innovative ways to help clients manage their meaningful everyday activities, so they can live independently with the necessary physical, cognitive and emotional supports at home or at work.

Occupational therapists help clients to participate in everyday activities or occupations. Occupations can range from walking a pet, cooking a meal, and helping clients to feel safe and independent in their homes, to assisting clients when they return to work and helping them maintain work and life balance.

"When clients can’t participate in daily occupations, due to injury, illness, disability or social and environmental circumstances, occupational therapists find innovative solutions to help and address these issues with their clients,” says Todd Tran, occupational therapist.

While the team of OTs at WCH is small, its work can be seen across the organization, including the complex care clinic, foot care centre, family practice, breast and lymphedema clinic, osteoporosis, rheumatology, mental health, trauma therapy program, Wellness for Independent Seniors Clinic (WISE), Women Recovering from Abuse Program (WRAP) and Acute Ambulatory Care Unit (AACU).

As OTs play a key role in various departments and programs. They work with clients who are recovering from physical, cognitive, and emotional issues – experiences that can prevent them from performing their day-to-day activities. While the treatment is individually based and/or group based, the end goal is to help clients cope and develop strategies to increase independence, to maximize safety and functioning. The holistic approach to care that OTs provide is a factor that distinguishes them from other healthcare professionals.

“As an occupational therapist in the WRAP program, I work directly with patients who are recovering from abuse-related experiences and help them find ways to cope by providing resources, group therapy and individual counselling,” says Anne Fourt, occupational therapist and assistant professor, occupational science and occupational therapy at U of T.

The OTs at WCH focus on client-centred care through the following interventions:

  • providing surveillance of lymphedema and functional abilities pre- and post breast cancer
  • assessing and recommending appropriate mobility and seating devices (such as rollator walkers to power mobility)
  • teaching clients how to manage their pain effectively
  • assessing cognition
  • providing compensatory strategies
  • and even hand splinting

They also provide interventions such as:

  • education around home modifications and home safety
  • psychotherapy
  • cognitive behavioural therapy
  • mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT)
  • and mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR)

What’s more, they help connect clients to other community-based programs in their neighbourhoods – providing clients with increased access and further supports.

They also provide falls education for at-risk clients and their caregivers. The Falls Education Workshops, a pilot project spearheaded by the OTs with Azeena Ratansi’s lead, is a workshop series for clients of family practice and those under chronic disease management programs who may be at risk. Clients can self-refer to the free workshops by calling 416-323-6400 ext. 8092. Workshops run three times a year and include three sessions that focus on reduction of falls risk factors, time management strategies to prevent rushing, footwear, foot conditions, mobility aids, adaptive devices, home safety, exercises and medications.

"Having Falls Educational Workshops is an excellent opportunity to help raise awareness of how Women's College is addressing falls education and how we can help connect our patients with resources directly from the professionals," explains Theresa Kay, health disciplines professional leader. "It is aligned with the overall WCH Falls Prevention Strategy which is a universal strategy aimed at reducing the risk of everyone who comes to WCH from falling."

More than just providing expert advice and resources, WCH OTs are working in diverse areas around the hospital and are changing the way our clients receive holistic care. And, they are providing clients with skills for the job of living and getting back to their lives quicker than ever before.  

occupational therapists
The team of occupational therapists at WCH including Julie Giroux, Andrea Sadler, Naffisa Nathwani, Azeena Ratansi, Anne Fourt and Todd Tran.
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