Continuing the observance of Occupational Therapy Month, we’d like to introduce you to four of our Occupational Therapists.

Yesterday on the blog we described ways in which OTs work with patients, their environments, and their daily activities. Today we’ll learn what our OTs love most about being on the job and how they’ve benefitted from our Clinical Mentorship program! 

Abby Crafton

OT Clinical Mentor and Occupational Therapist at Moundville Health and Rehab

When I entered graduate school for Occupational Therapy, I was certain I wanted to work in pediatrics, either in a school setting or outpatient clinic. I had always loved caring for children and truly felt it was my passion. That is, until I started doing observation hours and projects and quickly found that my heart lies within the Older Adult population. The beauty of Occupational Therapy, though, is the wide variety of settings and areas for opportunity within the field. Even in a SNF setting the patient population is extremely diverse. You can work with a 95 year old person living with dementia, finding their best ability to function at their cognitive level, to working with a 65 year old post hip surgery, ensuring they maintain their hip precautions while performing housekeeping and meal preparation tasks. Every day is different, well many times every hour is different, as you move from one resident to another. I love that I am never bored and even after 8 years still learn at least one new thing each day.

Many people go into a profession because they want “to help people” – nurses, social workers, teachers, and yes PTs and STs, as well. What I love specifically about Occupational Therapy is the entire premise of the profession is to be meaningful and valuable to our clients. We consider the whole person and prioritize their needs, wants and goals with them and then use client-centered activities to get them to their finish line. This is especially important to the Older Adult who may not want to “just exercise” and needs to see the value of the work and the return of their efforts.

I have worked for Restore for 8 years. I have been blessed to have a few different roles in several locations during this time, as I have had to move some for my family. I truly enjoy my role now as the OT Clinical Mentor leading the OT Mentorship Program. I love providing support to these new OT practitioners and have been amazed at how mentoring others has grown me, personally as a clinician. I am excited that Restore started this much needed program for new Occupational Therapists and am even more thrilled to be a part of it!

Martha Dennis

Occupational Therapist at Hunter Creek Health and Rehab and participant in Restore OT Mentorship Program

With April being OT Month, a new graduate has a lot of time to think. This time last year I was finishing up my final Level II Fieldwork, wondering when would be the perfect timing to get my graduation invitations out, and stressing about scheduling and passing my board certification. A year later, I am 9 months into my first OT job. The enjoyment of my first OT month as an OTR has been expanded because I get to work somewhere like Restore Therapy Services.

I have wanted to be an OT since first learning what OT was at a Tuskegee University open house about available degree choices. Learning there was a profession that beautifully blends knowledge and research with creativity and spontaneity railroaded me into realizing nothing would suit me better. I’m able to work with patients at all level of abilities maximize their level of independence using my coursework knowledge, certification in stroke rehab and dementia training, ingenuity, and a good dose of risk taking.

Working for a company like Restore that encourages outcomes and gains no matter how small makes a difference in the day to day operations as an OT. Working on a team of speech therapists, physical therapists, LPNs, CNAs, RNs, and the doctor makes for an amazing team. At Restore, new grads have another special person in their corner: the mentor. It has been a pleasure working with and being assigned a mentor. Having someone I can call, bounce ideas off of, and be a safe sounding board for questions has assisted in making be a better OT. The OT mentorship program has helped me make the transition from novice/beginner to intermediate practitioner.

So for OT Month 2019 Spotlight I am taking the time out to be happy with where I am now and that includes being with Restore Therapy Services.

Linda Ragland

Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant – Licensed

What occupational therapy means to me: I’ve been a COTA for over 30 years, believe it or not I still love what I do. We see individuals with deficits or needs and focus on adapting their environment to fit the person. To see at person go from dependent to going home being able to perform their own care or assit with their care is what we do. We touch people of all ages to live life to the fullest or to live better with injury, illness, and disability. 

Stacy Kennamer

Occupational Therapist-Licensed and member of Crossville Team of the Year

Throughout OT school, I was told that I needed to be able to explain what occupational therapy was in about the length of time you would spend in an elevator with someone. My quick definition was to help people to relearn how to take care of themselves, their house and to return to whatever activities that occupy their time.

When I first started working in Occupational Therapy, I was positive I did not want to work in a skilled nursing setting, because I was afraid I would get too attached to the residents. A few years later, I found myself moving to a small town and working in a rural skilled nursing facility. Since moving, I have discovered more about occupational therapy than I have in any other setting. Previously, I focused mostly on improving independence with self care and household activities to return home, but not as much on activities that occupy their time. Whereas in a SNF, I have learned that independence with self care is important, but so is learning about the residents’ interests, hobbies, and social activities to find what motivates them, what encourages them, and what fulfills them.

As a resident’s medical conditions progress, most often their functional and cognitive status will decline. This is where occupational therapy will assist residents to improve functional status or in some cases to assist residents as they decline with as much dignity and grace as possible. By learning about  interests and hobbies that motivate a resident, it can help to build rapport that might help improve participation in therapy to increase their independence with self care. This rapport is also important to have not only with the resident but also with their families, nursing home staff and other therapists. Having open communication with all members of the resident’s care team can provide more insight into ways to provide the best quality of care and carry over from therapy to nursing staff. Prior to one of my first evaluations in the SNF setting, the resident had just been told she was not returning home. While discussing the resident’s prior living situation with her daughter, it was mentioned that the resident was an avid quilter until she became too weak. During this same time frame, I was struggling with making my first quilt. When I attempted my evaluation, she was upset and refused to talk or interact with me until I began asking her advice on how to troubleshoot problems with my own quilt. During the evaluation, I explained how occupational therapy could help her gain strength and coordination to help her to get back to sewing and quilting. After that she was motivated to participate in therapy and was able to return to quilting. As her therapy progressed, the activities department was notified that this resident liked quilting and a quilting and handwork group was created as an activity that help to engage other residents with similar hobbies and interests. This group allowed her to build new relationships with other residents and to explore new handwork activities. Over the next couple of years, we shared pictures of quilts that we each had made. She gave me tips on how to improve my quilting skills and I was able to find ways to adapt quilting to best suit her functional status.

I have found over the past few years that by building rapport with residents and asking about what activities they find meaning in has helped to develop a personal relationship with them. These relationships have helped improve independence with residents wanting to participate with therapy and has even resulted in residents requesting therapy services. Building relationships has in some cases resulted in becoming attached more than expected; but it has not only provided meaning for residents, but for myself as well.  One of my concerns for working in this setting has definitely occurred. I have become attached to the residents I work with, but I am completely alright with it. By discussing their interests and hobbies, I have learned more about how the things that occupy our time can build connections to not only be a part of their life but to be a part of mine.

If you have any questions about our Clinical Mentorship program, contact us. We also have Occupational Therapy positions available. Check out our careers page and apply today!