Your OT Colleagues Share Dozens of Easy Ways to Remain Client Centered

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Your OT Colleagues Share Dozens of Easy Ways to Remain Client Centered

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We can always use reminders to be client centered every step of the way. Whether you’re new to practice or have been doing this for years, these 23 tips shared by your colleagues will help you remember to put your client first. Thanks to all of our Facebook friends for sharing these tips!

During Your Evaluation

Always read the charts and know all the precautions and contraindications related to client’s condition before treating any new client. Remember patients’ safety should be the priority and also protect and respect your license by being vigilant during therapy. If facing any difficulty do seek advice from the supervisor or coworkers in order to protect clients.
-Neha Chhabra Kohli

The first few minutes of an evaluation are crucial. This person you are seeing is in pain or is going through an illness or struggle. My trick is always to let them tell me their story from the beginning. Everyone rushes to follow the eval form, but then the patient never trusts you... they know you’re rushing and almost like they are a burden. Often times questions like when their pain started, what makes it better and worse, and ADL difficulties come out of them telling me their story. Letting them just freely talk builds rapport and establishes a connection that cannot be established at subsequent visits.     
-Jenna Caroline 

Ask the leading questions to find out what’s truly important to your patient and then direct your efforts to that goal. Don’t let your preconceived notions of a care plan get in the way.
-Melinda McCue

Asking about how your client spends their time will give you the open door to their occupation and how to facilitate that: sounds simple right? It is. In fact, the trick is your client is always the answer to your intervention.        
-Alexis Joelle

Keep in mind that the first duty of an Occupational Therapist is to identify what it is that the patient wants and facilitate that. What they want doesn’t have to be “normal” or sensible or approved by others.
-Sheila Joss

There’s always a solution to a patients’ problem—brainstorm with them! 
-Laura Giles Howell

Be aware of patient medications and any changes/interactions with meds!           
-Lynden Scahill

Take time to listen and establish a thorough occupational profile to ensure client-centered interventions.
-Rooney Ellis 

Build Rapport and a Relationship

Trick at a nursing home.... Listen to the residents and talk TO them, don’t talk DOWN to them. Incorporate OT strategies that fit each resident’s personalities and their passions.
-Allison Crossman

Building a rapport with your client is the best way to get results. Take the time to get to know your clients and focus on what they want. You will get a lot more accomplished this way! And it’s just good practice!         
-Allison Nussbaum

Taking the time to build a rapport with your student, patient, or client is so important. They might put up a hard shield to break through, but showing them you care by finding out who they are, what they like, dislike, values interests, will be the start of a trusting relationship!          
-Alaina Beatka

Pay attention to the client’s needs! They will let you know in subtle ways if you are not, so watch for clues.
-Abbi Harpe

While focusing on your client or caregiver’s goals remember to embed your intervention suggestions within their daily routine so they are more easily remembered and meaningful!            
-Ann McDonald

Regardless of the setting or the patient, understanding that they’re a person (not just a number on the paper) and providing the best patient-centered therapy goes a long way!   
-Suzie Driscoll

When you work in skilled nursing, remember—your patients don’t just live where you work, you work where they live.    
-Tanya Rowley

During Treatment

Really remember why you providing the treatments you are and explain it to the patients.           
-Megan Dippel

Relook at your patient’s diagnosis after you start treating for a few treatments and learn all you can as new diagnoses arise. I am so overwhelmed as a new clinician and I find myself learning more when I go back and relook/learn about different diagnoses when treating them. It seems to fall into place better. Give yourself time and seek out those who are humble to help guide and help you.      
-Jackie Thomas Ryon

Always think multidisciplinary—don’t have OT blinders. Watch for swallowing issues, gait issues, etc. and talk to the team. It’s a great help to the patient.        
-Jenn Foskey

Always explain to patients why they are doing an activity or exercise. If they understand the benefits and importance of the exercise they will be more compliant with their HEP.     
-Donna Scanlon Russo

Stay creative! Even when you’re tired and feel like you’ve run out of ideas, push yourself to do something new or meaningful for the client.    
-Amber Rice

Go the Extra Mile

Giving the patient or their family a tour and pointing out different sites around the hospital to work on visual scanning, way finding, and mobility.          
-Katie Bostic

In home care ALWAYS remember the dog’s name. The clients will love it and the dog will let you in the house.           
-Tara Harms

For Home health—also, never forget to include the pets in therapy! Sitting edge of bed holding their animals, throwing for fetch, even filling bird feeders are activities important to people, that often go overlooked.
-Suzanne Vetter

Your Tips

What are your favorite client-centered strategies? Share them in the comments To comment, please log in to OT Connections (it's free to join!).

  • In homecare one of the simplest things a therapist can do for the first visit is to take your shoes off. This does not apply to every home of course, but a simple way to tell if people appreciate this courtesy is to look and see if other peoples shoes have been removed at the front door. Many people will say you do not have to remove your shoes or they might say "leave your shoes on your socks might get dirty." When evaluating people do not rush,  start off with friendly conversation. One way to get people comfortable with you is to look at the pictures and get patient/caregiver started on their stories,

    you will be able to lead into a much more pleasant and comprehensive evaluation

  • Great tips, !