Athena Home Health O.T. Develops Trust to Set Achievable Goals For Her Patients
Athena Health Care Systems celebrates National Occupational Therapy Month throughout April. Occupational Therapists evaluate and help treat those afflicted with injury, illness, or disability. In conjunction with their patients, they work to develop goals to help the individual recover and maintain the skills and tasks needed for daily living and working. This month we recognize some of the therapists whose actions led to patient success. Athena Home Health & Hospice is part of Athena Health Care Systems’ continuum of care.
FARMINGTON, C.T. — Jenny O’Brien shadowed different disciplines throughout her education to help determine what niche in therapy she liked the best. She interned at pediatric offices, nursing homes, and outpatient therapy centers. She also worked at a local gym training older adults and as a caregiver caring for an elderly woman with dementia throughout college. She found with the different populations and people she worked with, the elderly population was her favorite.
“I love the geriatric population,” she explains, “I enjoy helping them age in place and it makes sense in my brain for how to treat the older population.”
O’Brien graduated from the University of Massachusetts in Boston with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science. Soon after she graduated from Bay Path University with her master’s degree in occupational therapy, she began working as a Certified Occupational Therapist for Athena Home Health & Hospice. She has been on the home health team for nearly two years and found the home setting to be the best setting for her to help meet patients’ occupational therapy goals and provide the most functional environment to do so.
“The first visit is the most important and setting common goals and developing trust,” said O’Brien, who explains that occupational therapy is constantly evaluating and looking at how well a patient can do a functional task.
If there are challenges in doing those tasks, what goals need to be set to get the patient back to their baseline.
The hospitals and skilled nursing centers all play an important role in the recovery of a patient, but O’Brien said, “I think home care is the most functional setting as an OT. We are working on the functionality at home and working on how they are doing it and getting around.”
“Once you are home from rehab, it’s more tailored to you, like, how you are going to get out of your shower and how do we make it work for you. It’s a lot more specific in the home and you can see where the patients are lacking. Where they used to be able to do XYZ… and getting them back to that,” she said.
The Interdisciplinary Team in home care plays a critical role in the recovery of the patient, O’Brien explains. The home care nurse, physical therapist, occupational therapist, home health aide and social worker, and other team members all play a role in delivering the appropriate care for the patient, which is why developing trust is so important.
“It’s so important to always explain the end goal. [The patients] aren’t going to get where they need to go unless they trust you,” said O’Brien. “We really see that we are making a difference and it’s motivating for me and the patient. Most people want to see me and want to feel better. They are inviting and welcome me into their homes, and I feel valued.”