How to get the most from an Occupational Therapist – Tips for Families – Showerbuddy

How to get the most from an Occupational Therapist – Tips for Families

How to get the most from an Occupational Therapist – Tips for Families

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Occupational Therapists are a big part of the Showerbuddy community. It’s who we talk to the most often each day, as they work with us to ensure their clients have their needs met by their equipment.
There are thousands of incredibly talented OTs doing important work. But for a family or individual who’ve never interacted with an occupational therapist, it’s useful to know more about what they do, and how they can help you. If families are doing their work in the partnership, the mobility impaired individual will benefit even more from their OT. In this article we offer some suggestions around getting the best possible experience with your occupational therapist.

Do your prep work with your mobility impaired loved one

The best daily and weekly routines come from good planning and discussion. The OT shouldn’t be expected to develop a care plan alone. In fact, they’ll likely have to ask a good number of questions as part of their assessment. To make this process easier and more detailed, we’d suggest that families have discussions with their loved ones well before meeting the Occupational Therapist.

You can ask your OT what sort of information they’ll likely need from you in advance, so you can discuss this and come up with the most detailed answer before you meet. This could include things like:

  • What activities need to be completed within the home each day?
  • What commitments and hobbies need to be attended away from home (e.g. doctor appointments, therapy, visits to the library, visiting friends).
  • What support is preferably done by family and what tasks need professional carer help?
  • What things can your loved one do themselves – or would ideally like to do themselves.

Take notes of these conversations and try to reach a general level of agreement. There may be some elements that require the occupational therapist to provide guidance on – and that’s part of their job. But they’ll appreciate you having some prepared thoughts on what would suit everyone best. The OT will use this as a reference point to start building the plan.

Provide as much information as possible

As you work with the occupational therapist, the more you can supply about the family, your loved one, their preferences and other details, the better the OT can support you.
Take certain tasks such as bathroom use – is there a way your mobility impaired family member prefers to approach bathing – body position, time spent bathing, which time of the day is preferable, who they want to provide assistance are just some of the considerations that will help the solution be more tailored to personal needs.


Depending on how your occupational therapist has been engaged, they may already have all the information they need about your loved one’s level of mobility from the medical perspective. If there is any of this information missing, it’s important to ensure they get access to this.

Raise the flag when the plan isn’t working

One thing to remember when working with an occupational therapist is that even if the plan is well thought out, there will be times where things need to change. It can be hard to plan out a day or week routine without testing different approaches to certain tasks, so be prepared to make a number of changes throughout the initial period of working with an occupational therapist.
But even over the long term, there can be changes in your loved one’s mobility, a new home, or other changes that demand the routine be updated. In these cases, it’s important as the person working closely with the OT that you’re able to alert them to an issue for this to be remedied. Occupational therapists will welcome such feedback as it allows them to provide better service to the client.


Communication is key!

Keep an open mind on assistive technology

Part of the OT’s plan may involve the usage of assistive technology; equipment designed to make activities and movements easier on the individual. Don’t close the door on certain assistive technology – it may not only benefit the mobility impaired user but their family as well.

Assistive technology helps reduce time spent doing tasks such as entering and exiting the home, travelling, and of course moving around the bathroom.

Don’t immediately think that because technically a family member or your loved one can conduct certain tasks independently without too much trouble that you should ignore assistive technology. It doesn’t need to replace tasks but can take some of the physicality out of them.

Your occupational therapist is an expert in assistive technology and its use cases. Make sure to keep an open mind and ask about what ways the home could be improved with such equipment.

Work with an OT that you all feel comfortable with

Occupational Therapists are a special community of people – their jobs are solely based around helping people who have particular support needs.
With this said, every family and individual is different and there will be personalities that they will naturally gel better with. If you’ve got the option to speak with a number of OTs before moving ahead with one. While all should have the skills and experience to help, it may be better long term to choose someone with whom the relationship will be as comfortable as possible.

Sticking to the OT’s plan

Getting the most out of an occupational therapist’s support is dependent on staying on track with their plan.
These plans typically require a number of weeks to get used to each activity whether that’s bathroom use or travel. It can be a challenge early on as family and the individual learn the ways in which to navigate things. Don’t assume the plan is wrong too early – but as we’ve said, keep communication up with the OT as they may make slight tweaks to suit based on live feedback.

Further reading

Enjoyed this article? You may be interested in these resources online:

The information in this article is intended as general information only and is not a replacement for official health guidance by your local medical providers. Please always consult an occupational therapist and/or local healthcare for more specific guidance.