Today’s Skilled Nursing Facility is not always a permanent residence. It serves as a healthcare facility that provides ongoing medical care and therapy services. Such a broad definition means that a facility’s residents span many age groups, diagnoses, and circumstances, and care can be long-term or short-term.
In today’s healthcare environment, patients stay in hospitals for less time and receive more therapy services in an SNF in order to continue their recovery.
Many patients return home to fulfill roles as father, grandmother, and even employee. That return to everyday life—and activities of daily living—underscores the importance of occupational therapy.
What Is Occupational Therapy?
Occupational therapy practitioners focus on “achieving health, well-being, and participation in life through engagement in occupation.”
In SNFs, they address training in self-care skills, training in the use of adaptive equipment, compensatory techniques, environmental modifications, and behavioral and mental health issues.
Occupational therapy and physical therapy are often confused, mainly because they have some similarities.
- Both educate people concerning accident prevention.
- Both educate people about the healing process.
- Both assist people with improving their ability to perform daily activities through training and education.
- Both specialize in their areas of expertise and play important, yet distinct, roles.
The key difference between physical therapy and occupational therapy is that physical therapy aims more at improving human body movement, while occupational therapy aims to improve the performance of activities of daily living.
Occupational therapy seeks to treat the entire person, helping people engage fully in life once again after experiencing injuries or disabilities.
Occupational Therapy Is More Than Exercises
Occupational therapy helps people become more confident and independent in performing activities that are meaningful to them. These can vary greatly between residents, depending on their specific impairments and desired lifestyles.
For one person, this may be regaining the ability to brush his or her own teeth or put on earrings. For another, it may be gaining strength and agility to be able to cook meals.
The occupational therapist works together with the resident to address obstacles and craft a unique plan for treatment that will enable the resident to become more functional and independent.
Common areas of improvement often include:
- Personal care activities: Brushing teeth, bathing, getting dressed, putting in contact lenses, putting on and tying shoes
- Household chores: Handling laundry chores, vacuuming, putting sheets on the bed, meal preparation, cooking, eating, cleaning up dishes and kitchen
- Building strength and endurance: Engaging in specific exercises to help the body be able to return to doing daily activities
- Preparing for community reintegration: Skills needed for public dining or emergency responses
- Home modifications: Sometimes home modifications and safety equipment are needed in the home to reduce barriers and enable safe functioning.
- Employment needs: Exploring adaptations and compensatory strategies for return to volunteer or paid employment
The key factor for successful occupational therapy is setting goals. The resident must identify specific aims in order for the occupational therapist to be able to provide the necessary assistance.
Once the resident has a specific set of goals, the therapist can then work with him or her on developing and carrying out a plan of therapy that will enable the resident to be prepared for life at home after discharge.
At Apex Rehab Solutions, we work hard to ensure the highest quality of resident care through a targeted combination of physical, occupational, and speech therapy services. Partner with us today by calling (412) 963-9698.