How Do Occupational Therapists Collaborate With Other Healthcare Professionals?


    How Do Occupational Therapists Collaborate With Other Healthcare Professionals?

    Occupational therapy is characterized as a holistic approach to care, as exemplified by our panel of experts. Beginning with an Occupational Therapist’s experience leveraging unique roles to provide optimal care, we’ve gathered insights from both OTs and their collaborators, reflecting the diverse ways OTs play a crucial role on care teams. From crafting patient-centered treatment plans to coordinating interventions for streamlined care, join us as we explore collaborations that enhance patient outcomes.

    • Leveraging Unique Roles to Provide Optimal Care
    • Targeting OT Goals in ABA Sessions
    • Co-Treating with PTs for Global Delays
    • Crafting Patient-Centered Treatment Plans Together
    • Contributing to Comprehensive Understanding
    • Co-Authoring Progress Reports for Informed Care
    • Advocating for Integrated Holistic Recovery
    • Coordinating Interventions for Streamlined Care

    Leveraging Unique Roles to Provide Optimal Care

    Having a holistic approach to a person's care is the lens through which an occupational therapist (OT) operates. When collaborating with other health care providers, it serves to work towards the OT goals that have been identified by the client.

    By collaborating with a team of nurses, physicians, physiotherapists (PT), speech-language pathologists (SLP), recreation therapists, dietitians, and social workers (to name a few), who all have a unique role in working with each person, it helps to provide the most optimal care for them.

    The ultimate goal an OT aims to achieve is to enhance a client's quality of life, which can look different for each person. For example, if a person is working with a PT to improve their ability to walk to the therapy gym but is not yet safe to do so, an OT would provide a wheelchair to give them another form of mobility and help them achieve their goal of attending their therapy sessions.

    Or if a person has limitations with their communication (i.e. speech or hearing), an OT would collaborate with the SLP to gain a better understanding of the specific impairments that make it challenging for the individual to complete a cognitive assessment or to be able to follow instructions in their therapy sessions.

    Finally, OTs can also work closely with social workers when planning for discharge from a hospital setting. The OT identifies a person's level of function with their daily activities and informs the social worker, who will assist with connecting the individual with resources in the community to help them return home safely with possible supports in place.

    While OTs can work individually, there are immense benefits to having a collaborative approach not only for the client but for the OT themselves as they learn from the expertise of others and increase their own knowledge.

    Mayleen Torres
    Mayleen TorresOT Reg (Ont.), Occupational Therapist

    Targeting OT Goals in ABA Sessions

    I work in an ABA setting, so I am regularly communicating with speech-language pathologists (SLPs) and Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs). For example, I have 1:1 monthly meetings with each BCBA in the center. During this time, I review OT-related goals, and the BCBA and I will discuss strategies on how the OT goals can be targeted during ABA sessions. Because of this collaboration, clients have more opportunities to practice OT-related activities and therefore can make progress at a faster rate!

    Madeline CramerOccupational Therapist

    Co-Treating with PTs for Global Delays

    Requesting a consult from an OT when a child is demonstrating a delay in fine-motor skills, sensory-processing concerns, or feeding difficulties is common. I often discuss shared children's cases to learn strategies for incorporating OT activities into sessions, especially play skills. We will sometimes co-treat with OTs for kids with global delays.

    Mary PerriPT

    Crafting Patient-Centered Treatment Plans Together

    Occupational therapists work with other healthcare professionals to craft treatment plans that center on the patient's unique needs and goals. This collaborative effort ensures that each aspect of the patient's care is addressed, allowing for a seamless integration of services. This synergy is crucial in creating a roadmap that the patient can follow with confidence.

    Through constant communication and shared knowledge, the patient is provided with a support system that is both robust and tailored specifically for them.

    Contributing to Comprehensive Understanding

    In the context of multidisciplinary care, occupational therapists bring a wealth of knowledge to the table. During team meetings, they share insights about the patient's abilities and challenges, contributing to a more comprehensive understanding of the patient's needs. These insights help shape the interventions and strategies developed by the healthcare team.

    Through this exchange of expertise, healthcare providers can offer patients a more nuanced and effective treatment approach.

    Co-Authoring Progress Reports for Informed Care

    It's important to recognize the collective effort that goes into monitoring a patient's journey. Occupational therapists collaborate with their colleagues to co-author detailed progress reports that highlight the patient's improvements, setbacks, and ongoing needs. These reports are vital tools for refining treatment plans and ensuring all healthcare providers are informed and in sync with the patient's progression.

    The shared documentation facilitates an open dialogue about the best course of action moving forward.

    Advocating for Integrated Holistic Recovery

    Working towards holistic care, occupational therapists integrate various therapeutic approaches with those of their healthcare colleagues to address the full spectrum of a patient's needs. By considering the emotional, social, and physical aspects of recovery, they support the patient in achieving a balanced and fulfilling life. Unified in their efforts, the healthcare team provides a continuum of care that envelops the patient in a safety net of support services.

    This comprehensive approach is essential in fostering an environment conducive to healing and growth. Advocate for integrated care to ensure a well-rounded recovery process.

    Coordinating Interventions for Streamlined Care

    Complex health situations often require the expertise of multiple medical specialists, and occupational therapists play a pivotal role in coordinating these interventions. By working closely with the rest of the healthcare team, they ensure that the timing and nature of each intervention are aligned with the overall treatment objectives. This coordination is critical in preventing overlap of services and guaranteeing that the patient receives the most efficient and effective care.

    Commitment to a streamlined approach helps patients move towards their rehabilitation goals with less confusion and more support.