People want to stay at home and participate in life for as long as possible. Sometimes, that feels impossible to do for many reasons. Did you know there is an entire profession that can help you renovate your home and age in place?
It’s called Occupational Therapy (OT.)
There is NO other profession that partners with you to create results that satisfy your physical and emotional needs like an Occupational therapist. OTs collaborate with clients to assess the person in their environment, to determine how a person is able to move within their environment. This is to ensure your home is accustomed to YOU.
So, how do you get started?
Here are the 6 steps towards modifying your home with an OT:
Share your Story
Occupational therapists are focused on learning about YOU. This includes discussing these topics:
Describe the activities you do daily.
What are the current physical or emotional barriers in your home?
What your home means to you.
How has your health impacted your daily routine in the home?
How ready for change are you?
Inspect the Home
By inspecting your home with an OT, you can create opportunities to show where specific challenges occur. You may notice issues with:
Reaching for items.
Or issues when moving from one surface to another (e.g. from your wheelchair into the shower/tub).
Your OT will guide you in taking measurements. These measurements are important to making recommendations that are customized to you. Here is a list of what sort of measurements may occur:
How far you can reach from a seated or standing position
Height, width, and length of body parts for both the client and their caregiver
Size of doors, hallways, steps or other high traffic areas
Equipment used regularly OR not so regularly
Your visual field (how much of the picture you can see without moving your eyes)
In addition to these measurements, OTs may take photos of key areas in the home. This creates a visual record of the before, during, and after phases.
Ideally, any home adaptation, modification or renovation should be a collaborative experience. If someone tells you differently, or makes you feel differently, run.
You will want to work with your professional to collaborate on:
Developing short- and long-term goals
Discussing interventions at length until you feel you understand it.
Prioritization of recommendations - Are there concerns for costs, funding, and timing of the work? What is the most important part to you? What is your OT most worried about?
It is the therapist’s responsibility to keep you informed on the extent of changes to different areas of your home. Detailed drawings and a report will help to ensure you are on the same page for how the renovation will look and be used in specific areas of your home. It may help to:
Observe a demonstration at a home centers / expos to view and try accessible designs
Go to shopping centers to try out accessible ramps
Visit another client’s home to see their modifications
Your OT may have industry leaders they refer you to, they may help guide you through the process as a consultant, or if you are lucky, some OT’s work as general contractors and may actually do the installation for you!
Questions a therapist may ask you at this point:
Are you satisfied with the look and feel of the new home and household routines?
Is your performance supported/enhanced through these interventions?
Are you using the items that were suggested?
Once the modifications are installed, How does your OT conclude this experience?
They will inspect all home modifications and other interventions to confirm correct installation and that you have complete satisfaction with those outcomes.
Having a healthcare professional as a consultant on a home adaptation project means you not only have someone skilled in disease or symptom management at the moment, but they are also knowledgeable in possible future needs. This will minimize costs in the long run, increase your satisfaction, and may even raise the home value.