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Occupational Therapy: Seeing the Whole Person

Participating in healthcare is complicated and ever changing. It involves working with different providers across various settings and often receiving and processing complex medical information. Oftentimes information/education is given and the providers continue on their way with poor or complicated follow up. It is not unusual to experience the feeling of being disjointed, overwhelmed, or disregarded. This can leave us confused and frustrated especially when we don’t see any improvement or believe a provider truly didn’t understand our reasoning for the visit.

Staff at Three Rivers Community Care appreciate these challenges and are establishing occupational therapy as a service to best support in-home and community-based care of the whole person. The application of these services will focus on collaboration between the client, family/caregiver, and occupational therapist and is an effort that truly prides itself on use of focused client-centered care.

What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapy focuses on assisting individuals in completing a variety of everyday tasks that are important to them. Tasks can include activities like pet care, community participation, and modifying environments and/or habits to suit sensory needs. It aims to facilitate best independence for the individual and assists by addressing any barriers and/or deficits met while trying to complete an activity.

There are many different types of interventions that occupational therapists use to support individuals and their goals. A therapist might assist a client regain their ability to shower independently through the use of assistive devices or using social stories to assist with certain behaviors or providing training to families and caregivers to assist with the needs of the individual (AOTA Framework).

What is client-centered care?

Occupational therapists work with clients on a regular basis for varying periods of time. Certainly, you can imagine building some form of a relationship or rapport if you work with someone over a period of time. However, occupational therapists can use those relationships and knowledge of clients to create a plan of care that focuses more clearly on the client and their goals and desires.

Client-centered care can be defined as a collaborative approach to care involving both client and families/caregivers in decisions and goal setting to ensure comfort and transparency (A client-centered approach to occupational therapy). When occupational therapists set goals for patients there’s a variety of reasons why someone may have a certain goal. While they may have two

patients whose goals are to walk with less pain there reasonings for those goals might be different. One client may want to be able to walk around comfortably on vacation which perhaps includes hiking trails, sandy beaches, or sloping hillsides. However, another client with the same goal may want to complete daily tasks more independently like grocery shopping or walking their dog around the block. By focusing on the client and knowing the why behind their goals occupational therapists can center their choice of tasks and activities in a session to meet the particular needs of each client’s goals.

How does person centered care benefit the client?

How does this practice of client-centered care benefit the individual and their families? Each start of care begins with the establishment of an occupational profile and use of tasks and/or sensory-appropriate assessments. These tools will help to identify the client’s unique experiences and areas of need as provided by the individual and their caregivers. This action helps clients and their families feel validated in their questions and concerns while permitting the occupational therapist the opportunity to build rapport and collect necessary clinical information that will guide the plan of care . It also clearly establishes what tasks and activities are important to the client, as these are the goals they’ll be working towards . Focusing on tasks that the client finds valuable and enjoyable will likely bring more success than something else (The Importance of Person-Centred Care in Occupational Therapy).

In addition, families can assist in client-centered care as they collaborate with the occupational therapist on a regular basis. This collaboration provides assistance on understanding the client’s

needs throughout the application of skilled services, families/caregivers can provide encouragement during the process, and can help choose the best activities for their loved ones to support best carryover. Working with clients and their families not only supports a rapport it benefits the value that they see and get out of their occupational therapy services.

Overall, by ensuring the practice of client centered care occupational therapists help support the success of their clients. Clients and caregivers feel heard, provide input into their activities and goals, and ultimately feel more successful and enjoy their services more. AtThree Rivers Community Care we pride ourselves on maintaining a client-centered approach and focus. If you are looking for someone to work with you on your goals then contact us today about our occupational therapy services.


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