I am brimming with such pride and admiration that, being without a platform or mountaintop to holler from, I felt had no choice but to hijack John Baker’s blog while he is on vacation.
I’ll ask his forgiveness later.
But for now I must share with you some warm fuzzies- the kind that leave a mark on this world. I have the dubious responsibility of completing annual supervisory visits with the occupational therapy staff at Baker Rehab Group. It is a mechanism to ensure quality care and compliance with our staff, and is used as a framework for important feedback and suggestions to help us all grow as clinicians.
Though not designed to be an ambush of sorts, I usually end up stumbling across an OT in one of our assisted living facilities, whipping out my paper, and observe a treatment session there on the spot without warning. It’s purely out of convenience on my part due to my slippery schedule, but it can be genuinely surprising and slightly disconcerting to the unprepared therapist.
Today was one such day. I ambled down the hallway at a facility and overheard one of our OT’s talking with a resident and staff caregiver. The OT described the purpose of the task to both parties (check!). I peeked through the crack in the door and watched her demonstrate instructions to a patient with cognitive impairment (check!). I listened to her providing cues, educating the caregiver, and rearranging the environment to make the patient more successful and safe (check, check check!!!).
Then I listened to the feedback from the caregiver, thanking her for the wonderful suggestions and impact that therapy is having on the resident’s quality of life (there is no check box for that, but there should be!).
Only a few rooms away was another of our stellar OT’s. I listened through the door for a bit, mostly just to gauge if it was an appropriate time for me to enter. I heard easy banter and a few laughs coming from the bathroom. I knocked and entered the room, asking the patient if it was ok for me to observe. Standing slightly behind the patient and mouthing to me over her shoulder, the OT whispered, “I love her” to me and gave the patient an affectionate rub on the back.
I watched them work on activities at the bathroom sink- where to park her walker, where to place her hands, in what sequence to perform tasks, where to place the items. The OT told me that the patient is highly motivated to be able to complete all bathroom tasks without help from the staff- and together they would make this goal a reality.
Feeling any warm fuzzies yet?
The OT then set her up with some exercises to strengthening her weak, arthritic hands, so that she would be better able to open the containers at the bathroom sink. And then she reviewed the things they had worked on, what else they would still work on that visit, and what they would address during the next visit.
It goes without saying that these OT’s follow procedural policy flawlessly. I can check off competency in all skills related to this setting without hesitation.
But what I was most struck by was the compassion… and the incredible desire to improve the lives of their patients. Before they were even aware of my presence, I could hear the patience and kindness in their voices. I witnessed excellent communication coupled with gentle, non-threatening body language. Their presence was calm and confident. They were easy to understand and easy to trust.
I then went in search of assisted living staff, looking for feedback and opinions about these therapists and the work they do with the residents. They were so genuinely appreciative of these therapists, and others that work in the building, and told me that their expectations had been exceeded beyond measure. I was humbled by the success stories and puffed up my chest like a proud mother hen.
I am so honored to work with these therapists, and all the others at Baker Rehab Group, who show the same commitment to excellence and beyond-job-requirement effort in everything they do.
It may sound cliché to be so positively affected by a group of coworkers, but they truly inspire me. They are difference-makers.
You can have your blog back now, John.
I’ve said my piece.