Sue Paul COO,OTR/L has been the Chief Operating Officer of Baker Rehab Group since 2002. Ms. Paul has held certifications in geriatrics through the American Occupational Therapy Association and served as AOTA representative for the End of Life Practice Recommendations for the National Alzheimer’s Association in Washington D.C. She is the author of the Head, Hands, Heart Dementia Assessment System, which is a healthcare provider tool for assessing and treating persons with dementia.
Well here we are at the end of OT Month 2015 and we’ve had some great insights and lessons shared by some of our colleagues. But not everybody got the chance to share. Not only was April #OTTakeover Month, it was also annual compliance month, and let’s-install-a-new-electronic-medical-record-month, and spring break month… and a month filled with a ton of work and growth and “stepping up” at BRG. Our therapists have been pushed to the max this month so we’ve decided to spread the love out over the rest of the year. So watch your inbox and the Baker Beacon for additional nuggets of OT wisdom. It’s good stuff.
But since it is still technically OT Month, allow me to share with you my own recent “a-ha” lessons. I’ve been an OT for almost 25 years, which means I pretty much know what I know, and I know what I don’t know. But it turns out, what I thought I knew is really something I used to know, or maybe I still know, but I lump in with other things I know into a fuller body of knowledge. Such are the fruits of maturity and experience. However, it seems I’ve been neglecting to put into practice some key principles that are really important in the delivery of quality occupational therapy services. Even more eye-opening is that I learned these valuable lessons from a new grad.
I have been covering patient treatments for one of our younger, newer therapists while she is on vacation. I have been pleasantly assured by all of her patients that her skills and aptitude for home health OT is top notch… they all love her. The one thing that they each have mentioned to me, and that they really appreciate, is how she has been able to break down the parts of task into smaller components. By reviewing each step of a task, they are able to hone in on each weak link and work on corrective actions. I keep hearing the same feedback over and over, “She really breaks it down for me.”
In occupational therapy lingo, this is called task analysis. We spend a lot of time in OT school breaking down functional tasks into components that consider movement patterns, cognitive processes, and environmental and psychosocial elements. It’s OT 101.
When you’ve seen the same task performed hundreds of different ways over the course of 25 years, you tend to take a more macroscopic view of issues. Or you tend to assume that the problem is obvious to everyone, because you’ve seen it so many times before. I have been reminded lately how crucial it is to explain task analysis to our patients. I had forgotten how much they appreciate understanding our reasoning behind treatment approaches, even the most obvious detail, and how important it is to show them the weak link in a sequence. I may know what the problem is and how to fix it, but may not bother to break it down into smaller steps for the sake of better compliance and participation. I tell them to trust me. When did I become such a know-it-all?
So I’d like to thank Rachel Hensberger for her stellar contribution to the OT community and for reminding me how valuable our basic guiding principles are. She has done her patients, her profession, and her “boss” a great service. I am humbled and grateful.