Occupational Therapy in Nursing Homes

nursing homesKnow what to expect from the occupational therapy program at your nursing home.

The medical care available at nursing homes today is unsurpassed. Teams of registered nurses (RNs), certified nursing assistants (CNAs), physical therapists (PTs), occupational therapists (OTs), speech therapists and recreational therapists work in tandem to provide your loved one with care that caters to her physical, emotional and social self. From injury recovery and rehabilitation to adaptations for healthy living and pain reduction, OTs play a particularly important role in the life of a nursing home resident. Read on to learn what to expect from occupational therapists when your search for nursing homes is over and your loved one walks through the door of her new home.

Occupational Therapy Inside Nursing Homes

Registered occupational therapists (OTRs) are trained to assist individuals with varying needs throughout the human lifespan. Those who focus their expertise on nursing homes deal with aspects unique to aging individuals, such as recovery from falls, ambulation and assistance with activities of daily living. Though the majority of nursing home residents require a significant amount of help throughout the day, OTs still focus on helping residents enjoy as much independence as possible given their unique strengths and limitations.

Equipment Utilized in Nursing Homes

OTs help residents at nursing homes utilize items called "adaptive equipment" throughout their daily lives. Use of these items is meant to instill confidence and bring about autonomy while minimizing discomfort and decreasing injury. Following are some items occupational therapists commonly recommend at nursing homes:

  • Wheelchairs
  • Walkers
  • Raised toilet seats
  • Bath seats
  • Reachers
  • Dressing sticks
  • Sock aids
  • Long shoe horns

Meeting with Your Nursing Home's OT

All residents at nursing homes receive occupational therapy at some point during their stay. Whether it is during admittance, when the staff assesses needs and makes care plans, during a change in health status, or after a medical emergency, nursing home residents almost universally benefit from OT care.

Regular OT Care at Nursing Homes

Typically, occupational therapists will work with a nursing home resident when he first enters the facility to assess his needs and provide him with training and assistance that will enable him to live a more productive life. In addition, OTs at nursing homes will often see patients at different points during their stay to offer additional aids or recommend movement to a different type of walker or wheelchair.

OT Care for Rehabilitation

OTs provide in-depth care in the rehabilitation wing of many nursing homes. These wings, also called transitory care units, house patients recovering from falls, strokes and other debilitating medical problems. Sometimes nursing home residents suffer fractured bones and need physical therapy as well as occupational therapy to recover. In cases like these, an OT will meet with the nursing home resident three to six times per week, working on new skills so she can return to her normal wing as quickly as possible.

Getting the Most Out of Your Nursing Home's OT Program

Mastering new skills and integrating new items into your everyday life is never easy. And starting at a ripe old age doesn't make it any easier. So keep in mind that your loved one may resist some help from OTs during his nursing home stay. Reminding him that occupational therapy exists to empower him, improve his life and decrease his discomfort might help. And as always, providing him with the love of family and friends will help him as he transitions through this difficult stage of life.

Start Your Search for Nursing Homes Today

To find nursing homes with flourishing OT programs near you, simply call the toll-free number at the top of this page. Our trained eldercare experts are waiting to assist you, free of charge. You may also search through our detailed database of nursing homes in your area by filling out the Find Assisted Living search box. Locating a nursing home that meets your needs and fits your budget is the first step toward providing your loved one with the expansive care available at nursing homes today. What are you waiting for?