When I first decided I wanted to delve into private practice, I knew I wanted Bright Spot to offer Occupational Therapy Services. I see great value in the profession of Occupational Therapy and I have always been excited to collaborate with OTs. I believe that collaboration is and an essential part of my profession and can lead to better outcomes for clients. Elizabeth's positive and compassionate personality, wealth of knowledge, and her clinical experience, made her the perfect addition to the Bright Spot team.
I truly enjoy every opportunity to hear other professionals' stories about the trajectory of their careers and their most memorable experiences. I wish more people could hear some of the life-changing stories that we, in the healthcare field, get to see first-hand! These stories brighten my day and help me push through challenging days. I had the privilege of sitting down for a cup of coffee with Elizabeth to learn a little more about the work that she does and she generously agreed to share our conversation with you!
What do Occupational Therapists do?
OTs are often misunderstood. Some people think we only work in occupational health and safety, others get us confused with physiotherapists. The actual role of an occupational therapist varies greatly from client to client. When I work as an OT, my focus is to support people as they participate in the activities that occupy them. I use a client-centred approach to assisting people as they gain independence in looking after themselves, working at paid/unpaid jobs (including school), and enjoying leisure activities. Since every client and their interests and needs are different; my role is different with each person that I meet. That’s what makes my job so interesting!
Why did you decide to become an Occupational Therapist?
When I was trying to decide which field to pursue for a career, I talked to my high school guidance counselor and told him that I wanted to work in health care and help people who had disabilities to become more independent. He suggested that I attend university to become a nurse. Obviously he had never hear of OT! Thankfully the university lost my application for nursing and I had to enter a general science program at first. While in university I continued exploring my options and a friend told me she was going to apply to the occupational therapy program at McMaster University when she finished her undergraduate degree. I asked her more about it, and found that this was the program that I had been searching for all along! In one of my summer jobs, I worked in a group home with an individual who was in his sixties and had never been able to tie his own shoes, he always had to wear Velcro shoes or ask someone to tie them for him. In doing research to help him, I met an OT who recommended elastic shoelaces. I clearly remember the day I took this man to a department store to try on shoes with the elastic shoelaces. He chose shoes in the style he liked, sat down and, with the aid of elastic shoelaces, easily put the shoes on by himself! Such a simple solution to a problem that had been discouraging him for years. As he wandered the shoe department feeling quite proud of himself, I sat there with tears in my eyes knowing that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
What are some of your most memorable experiences as an OT?
The first client I was assigned after I graduated was a woman in her 90’s who had become suddenly blind. My job was to help her return to her home, and learn to care for herself and her husband without the aid of sight. I remember the first time I met her, she told me her motto was: “If life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” That is just what she did. In her nineties she and l worked together to relearn how to bathe, dress and eat independently using a few simple tricks and tools. She also learned to make healthy meals for herself and her husband, make phone calls and play a card game. She was able to live in her own home, enjoying her family and participating in her roles as a wife, mother and grandmother.
I also enjoyed working with a young boy who was struggling with holding a pencil correctly, not able to keep up with the schoolwork his teacher assigned and unable to fasten his own clothing due difficulties with fine motor skills. He hated school, found himself often being disciplined for being late to go out for the bus or recess and had difficulty making and keeping friends. His self-esteem was very low. As a result of my assessment, I found where the issues were that made fine motor skills and staying organized so difficult for him. I gave his parents and teacher some ideas for fun activities that would build strength and coordination in his hands and arms. I suggested a special pencil for him to use for short assignments and recommended a computer with software for him to use for larger projects. Adaptive aids and training for his clothing difficulties were the last thing needed to help this little boy keep up with his classmates in his schoolwork and also on the playground. He was making new friends before long and his big smile was proof that with a little help, he was going to be a huge success!
Some Fun Facts about Elizabeth:
Favourite Toy: Her favourite toy is a set of stacking cups that are numbered and have different feeling textures on each cup. The cups also have shapes that you can use to stamp Play Doh.
Favourite Hobbies: Elizabeth enjoys skating, biking and playing board games with her children
We are thrilled to have Elizabeth offer comprehensive OT services on behalf of Bright Spot Therapy Services. To set up an appointment with Elizabeth contact us by phone at 705-221-BSTS (2787) or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.