St. Catherine’s Living Community of Wahpeton is a skilled rehab nursing facility that offers short term rehabilitation, outpatient therapy, home health care, and long term care.

The Occupational Therapist’s role is to help each individual live their life to the fullest and be able to complete the things they enjoy and need to do through the use of therapeutic activities. We help promote health and well-being along with helping people live better with illness, disease, and injury.

What’s the difference between an Occupational Therapist and an Occupational Therapy Assistant, you may ask? The difference between the two is that Occupational Therapists see the residents for the first time for an evaluation. During the evaluation the Occupational Therapist creates goals for the residents to meet in a certain time period.

Occupational Therapy Assistants provide activities/interventions to help residents reach their goals. OTAs collaborate with other disciplines to identify safe techniques for a resident’s diagnosis and how their current level of physical abilities helps them transfer to help OTA’s treatment plan.

OT and OTAs administer cognitive assessments such as Allen’s Cognitive Levels, Slums, and MoCA to identify patient’s level and educate staff on appropriate approaches. Based on each cognitive assessment/test, OTAs analyze how a resident processes information through therapeutic activities and finds appropriate ways to carry out next treatment sessions so that residents become independent within their room and facility environment.

Each person of the therapy team, including Physical Therapy (PT), Occupation Therapy (OT), Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA), Speech Language Pathologist (SLP), and Physical Therapy Assistant (PTA), take special care of each individual and create a treatment plan to provide for their needs.

The OT’s/OTAs role in a skilled rehab nursing facility is finding ways residents respond best to types of cues such as verbal or tactile (touch) to prevent falls, frustration, agitation, and aggressive behaviors. Since falls are the leading cause of injury in older adults, St. Catherine’s therapy team educates nursing staff on ways to prevent residents from falling by administering cognitive tests.

The term therapy uses is called “safety awareness”; being familiar with hazardous surroundings and unsafe situations such as transfers or completing daily tasks unsafely. For example, a resident who is in the bathroom completing a toileting task and is about to exit with their pants down to their ankles due to level of cognition.

OTs/OTAs find this situation to be a red flag because the resident is unaware of their own safety. OTs/OTAs work together to provide a consistent plan to verbalize cues to the resident and communicate to nursing staff how to approach each individual to help promote living as independently as possible while doing so in a safe manner.

OT/OTAs use their learned skills/judgement to carry over in a resident’s treatment sessions to teach the residents to practice continued safe techniques for transfers to and from a chair to bed, walker to toilet, and so on. They also provide appropriate residents with a gait belt per the facility’s policy.

OTs/OTAs work with residents in electric wheelchairs and standard wheelchairs to provide the same skills when assessing a resident’s ability to scan their environment and propel themselves to and from their rooms to scheduled activities. OT/OTAs assess a resident’s abilities to identify when they are too close to an object such as a table, doorway or cleaning cart, or too close to the person in front of them to prevent collision and further injuries.

All in all, St. Catherine’s Living Center of Wahpeton offers a wide variety of skilled services to help you, your family member, friend, or spouse complete daily activities they need and enjoy doing with the proper tools and adaptations.

Madelyn Zahnow, OTA/S

St. Catherine’s Living Center Benedictine Health System

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