Each April, we celebrate Occupational Therapy Month. This is the special time when we recognize the role and the achievements of occupational therapists (“OTs”) for working with people who require some modifications or considerations to help them remain in the current homes. OTs, along with other health care professionals (HCPs) such as PTs, are valuable throughout the year. That’s why we make a point of designating a special month for them now. PTs get a month devoted to them in October.
Because of their training and core competency, the OT is especially qualified to assess the physical capabilities of an individual in their home and make recommendations involving the mobility, sensory, or cognitive functions that might have a bearing on creating a safer and more accessible living environment for them.
The OT begins the process by conducting their assessment of an individual by looking at and discussing the way they function in their home. They evaluate their quality of life, safety, range of motion, general reach and accessibility, activities of daily living, ability to move about within their space, and the presence of other people in their home. Then they form their conclusions about what is needed to improve that particular home and address the needs of the client.
When there is a specific medical condition that affects how the client functions, the OT has the training to review the necessary medical reports and form their professional opinions about specific measures that need to be taken to accommodate the client – and those might change over time as well. This part of the overall review and assessment process – one that the contractor and others cannot do.
The OT then partners with remodeling contractors or similar professionals who can translate their wishes into reality. The contractor determines how to implement what the OT has suggested. Remodelers often conduct their own independent assessments, but they don’t have the medical knowledge to suggest meaningful solutions for clients who require more than a typical redesign or retooling of their space without taking into account any physical needs that might affect that renovation. This is why the OT is such a valuable strategic partner for the remodeler to have and use.
Other aging-in-place professionals, such as designers, architects, and trade contractors, will enjoy working with and utilizing the services and expertise of OTs also.