If you become an occupational therapy assistant, you’ll participate in one of the longest-standing traditions in healthcare: the house call. While it might be uncommon nowadays for an MD to pack their stethoscope in a doctor’s bag and do the rounds in their neighborhood, occupational therapy assistants do it with some frequency. Occupational therapy is a common part of home care, and a good amount of OTAs begin their days with a list of addresses and go from one home to the next, providing necessary care to their clients.
Related resource: How to Make a Difference as an OTA
Occupational therapy deals directly with activities of daily living (ADL) and with clients who need to either gain or regain the essential abilities they’ll use every day, many of them in their own homes. Treating and observing clients in a clinical environment can be and often is very necessary, but by being in their homes, OTAs will be able to observe ADL (and potential issues with them) up close. They’ll get necessary and valuable data about how clients live their daily lives. Working in a client’s home ensures an OTA can provide the right kind of treatment for clients based on their home environment and give them the specificity they need to provide the best treatment possible.
Related resource: A Day in the Life of an Occupational Therapy Assistant
Not only can an OTA help a client better navigate their environment, an OTA can also facilitate a better, safer environment for their client. If, for instance, a client is elderly and is more likely to have a harmful fall, an OTA can take measures to make falling less likely in the client’s home by installing guardrails or the like. Likewise, if a client has difficulty reaching a certain distance, an OTA can optimize that client’s environment by making sure all necessary household items, light switches, or anything else they need to reach for is reachable.
This type of care can be very empowering to clients. If navigating their home environment has become a challenge for a client, that can be dispiriting and potentially stressful. By giving clients back control over their immediate environment, an OTA can give them a sense of control and strength. Ideally a client should feel safe and in control in their own home, and an OTA can help them realize their goal.
Related resource: Caring for the Elderly as an OTA
There are many other benefits to occupational therapy in the home, and one of the most important factors is that OTAs can assist their clients in managing their other conditions. It’s entirely possible that a client has to take medication, use a specific medical device, deal with stitches or wound dressing, or do some other task to manage other health issues.
Many of these tasks can be challenging for anyone, but an OTA’s clients could lack the skills to follow instructions that have been given to them by another healthcare provider. A major advantage to home healthcare is it can ensure those instructions are carried out in a satisfactory way, and that can prevent a client’s other medical conditions from worsening. In this instance, home healthcare can lead to overall better healthcare.