Improving independence with Occupational Therapy

Charisse Holder

Charisse Holder is our new Occupational Therapist at Hill House in Sandbach. She will be playing an essential role as part of our assistive technology project there.

Charisse will be helping the people we support get the most out of new technologies. Improving independence and social inclusion. She tells us what Occupational Therapy is all about.

Tuesday 27 October 2020 is World Occupational Therapy Day.

‘What is occupational therapy?’ is a question I get asked all the time. Like a lot of my occupational therapist colleagues across the globe, I sometimes find it’s a difficult one to answer. 

As it’s World OT Day, it seems rather apt to try and explain using the current issues around coronavirus impacting everyone at the moment. Occupations are the activities and tasks we all do in daily life, the things we want, need and must do. These can range from the mundane to the fun.

Charrise, Occupational Therapist at Hill House

Tasks like showering, brushing our teeth, preparing dinner for the family, going to work, driving, playing football, watching TV, using social media and visiting family. These occupations are all meaningful and purposeful to an individual and differ from person to person. How I make a cup of tea is going to differ from the way you make a cup of tea. I like to put the milk in before I take the teabag out, controversial I know! 

Occupational Therapy enables you to do the things that matter

When the world went into lockdown, it impacted us all. The way we had to work, shop, socialise and learn changed drastically overnight. When our occupations are altered, it can affect our roles in daily life. It affects our routines, our relationships, and our aspirations. These are the things that make us who we are, and they were taken away from us. 

Occupational Therapy is about promoting independence. It’s about enabling people to do the things that matter to them. Barriers to functioning and performing occupations are overcome by finding new ways to do what you want to do. Occupational Therapists adapt the environment. They introduce aids, adaptations, or new technologies. They can help break down a task into smaller chunks or educate in new strategies. 

My work at Hill House

As the Assistive Technology Project Occupational Therapist at Hill House, I work with the residents to identify the barriers to their essential occupations. Together we find the best ways to break down barriers and achieve their desired occupations. 

A resident’s independence can be increased by finding creative ways to access new assistive technology. And reduce reliance on others. It’s exciting to discover a new assistive device to enable a resident to socialise with friends more frequently. Or to help occupy their time more meaningfully. Ultimately, my role aims to ensure that the resident’s personal occupational, social, and communication goals are achieved. Despite the challenges they face.

Adapting to the "new normal"

The theme of World Occupational Therapy 2020 is ‘Reimagine Doing’. During the coronavirus pandemic, we have all had to ‘reimagine doing’ our occupations and overcome our barriers. We shop at a distance and wait patiently to enter supermarkets.

We work from home, we interact with friends and family via new technologies, we dye our own hair, and we build bars in the garden! You will have adapted to find a way of still performing your important occupations in a new, individualised way. 

So, know this on World Occupational Therapy Day, you have all been doing some elements of occupational therapy without realising.