Occupational therapists are trained healthcare professionals who specialise in helping the elderly to age productively and improve quality of life. When an elderly person is affected by illness, accident, injury, disability, or a mental health condition, occupational therapists plays an essential role in assisting them.
An occupational therapist's role in elderly care include the following:
- Practice and adjust the client's personal care skills including homemaking, cooking, eating, dressing and grooming, among other activities.
- Emotional and social support, re-integration into the community after a sick bed.
- Promoting independence during aging.
- Group therapy sessions in order to stimulate social interaction and prevent institutionalisation in frail care or nursing homes.
Occupational therapists differ from physiotherapists in the following ways:
- Occupational therapists help clients perform daily functions or “occupations”. Occupational therapy tend to be more focused on improving life skills and often involves adaptive tools that lead to better quality of life.
- A physiotherapist addresses mobility and treat the cause of the decreased mobility.
For example, when an elderly patient fractures a hip, the physiotherapist will assist in strengthening the leg in order to improve walking, whilst an OT will help the person to move on and off the toilet or perform cooking safely.
- Physiotherapists and an occupational therapists work hand in hand to reach the highest level of functioning and preventing re-injuring.
We address the need for rehabilitation following an injury or impairment. Rehabilitation is at the core of occupational therapy and addresses the needs of persons with injuries, illnesses, or deficits in occupational performance due to other causes.
Overall, the goal of rehabilitation is to help clients, regardless of condition or setting, return to participation in the activities that they need and want to do. To achieve this, clinical practice will increasingly reflect the application of current research, evidence, and critical reasoning to achieve better outcomes.
Occupational therapy in adult rehabilitation may take a variety of forms:
- Working with adults with autism at day rehabilitation programs to promote successful relationships and community participation through instruction on social skills.
- Increasing the quality of life for an individual with cancer by engaging them in occupations that are meaningful, providing anxiety and stress reduction methods, and suggesting fatigue management strategies.
- Coaching individuals with hand amputations how to put on and take off a myoelectrically controlled limb as well as training for functional use of the limb.
- Using and implementing new technology such as speech to text software.
- Working with adults who have had a stroke to regain strength, endurance, and range of motion on their affected side.
Functional Capacity / Work Evaluations
According to the American Association of Occupational Therapy: “A functional capacity evaluation (FCE) evaluates an individual’s capacity to perform work activities related to his or her participation in employment. The FCE process compares the individual’s health status and body functions and structures to the demands of the job and the work environment.
In essence, an FCE’s primary purpose is to evaluate a person’s ability to participate in work, although other instrumental activities of daily living that support work performance may also be evaluated.
The ability to analyse an activity in detail to determine the necessary components to perform the task competently is a unique core skill of occupational therapists, based on their education and training. FCEs typically require the evaluator to determine the worker’s capability to perform various work-related tasks and whether there is a match between these abilities and the essential job performance components. Although individuals from other disciplines can be involved in FCEs, the occupational therapy practitioner brings unique knowledge and skills related to the complex and dynamic interactions between the person, the environment, and the occupation.
The components of the FCE will vary based on the purpose of the assessment. The FCE typically begins with a client interview, medical record review, and musculoskeletal screening. Functional testing may include graded material-handling activities such as lifting, carrying, pushing, and pulling; and positional tolerance activities such as sitting, standing, walking, balancing, reaching, stooping, kneeling, crouching, crawling, object handling/manipulation, fingering, hand grasping, and hand manipulation. Pain monitoring is frequently performed during the FCE to document client-reported levels of pain during various activities as well as to manage pain. The FCE may also include evaluation of an individual’s hand dexterity, hand coordination, endurance, and other job-specific functions.”
An FCE typically takes three to four hours to complete.
Who Can Benefit From an FCE?
- Someone who has been injured or impaired in any way and is applying for insurance benefits.
- Someone that is unsure if he/she would be able to perform their job after an illness or injury.
- Someone that is seeking alternative employment after an illness of injury.
- Someone seeking vocational rehabilitation services.
Referral for FCEs
- Specialists or doctors that are unsure about a patient's work performance and whether he/she is safe to return to their job or an alternative job.
- Insurance companies following a claim for disability or temporary disability.
- Client or patient themselves.
We provide holistic medico-legal assessments and reports of clients involved in a third party or medical negligence claim.
After an assessment has been completed, an in-depth and thorough report is written with regards to:
- Demographic, educational and medical history.
- Physical abilities.
- Cognitive abilities.
- Socio-emotional aspects.
- Activities of daily living, including ability to do personal care, participate in leisure activities and work performance.
Recommendations are made regarding:
- Necessary referrals to other professions.
- Loss of life amenities.
- Residual work capacity / ability to earn an income.
- Assistive devices.