occupational therapy in nursing homes

How Occupational Therapy in Nursing Homes Can Aid Your Recovery


When you think of a nursing home, what do you picture? If you’re like most people, you’d envision a home or facility where people go to live when they can no longer care for themselves—and while this is often true, not all nursing home experiences are permanent. A short-term stay at a nursing home may be an important step back to health for those whose ability to care for themselves is temporarily hindered. Services such as occupational therapy in nursing homes can help ensure temporary residents can return home safely and successfully.

What is Occupational Therapy?

According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, occupational therapists “enable people of all ages to live life to its fullest by helping them promote health, and prevent—or live better with—injury, illness, or disability.”

Occupational therapists use everyday activities to address physical, psychological, and cognitive aspects of well-being. Occupational therapy interventions are designed specifically for the individual patient, helping them to meet their needs in any way possible.

Interventions may include direct work with patients to develop new ways of approaching barriers, such as improving strength or new ways to get dressed. They may also involve working with patients’ family members to assist in coaching or exercises. Finally, occupational therapists may work on environmental adaptations to promote safety and security, such as adaptive utensils for eating. The occupational therapy process is holistic, looking at the person, their support system, and the environment in order to attain the highest possible level of functioning and safety.

Why Occupational Therapy in Nursing Homes?

Often, when people think about occupational therapy in nursing homes, they believe it’s only necessary in cases of stroke or an accident—but OT is more than that. Proper interventions are based on an assessment of an individual’s performance skills, activity demands, performance patterns, and environment. It takes into account the individual’s motor processes, social interactions, habits, and routines, which ultimately leads to improved functioning and benefits both the patient and their family.

Occupational therapy nursing homes may be of use to you if:

You Have Experienced an Extended Illness

Any illness that requires a hospitalization lasting more than one night can take a toll on your body, particularly if you must remain in bed for days at a time. Our bodies are designed to be active, and immobility has a negative effect. It’s possible that you have not lost any functioning, but you need to build up your strength before returning home.

An occupational nursing home stay will help you regain your former strength and ability. Your occupational therapist can design a program of exercises to get you back to normal as quickly as possible. Your OT will help you increase muscle tone, which helps with the activities of daily living and helps prevent falls—increasing your safety after recovery is complete.

You Are Recovering from Surgery

Surgery—even planned surgery to correct an existing problem—causes stress on the body. As you age, the healing process takes longer. Orthopedic surgery, in particular, requires a dedicated recovery program in order to have a successful outcome.

A stay at an occupational therapy nursing home can be the answer to the problems you face when you are not functioning as well as you usually do. By designing a program and providing help where needed, the occupational therapy nursing home can be a crucial step on your road back to home and independence.

You Have Had a Major Change in Your Physical Status

It’s hard to face the idea that you might not be able to do everything you used to, but some major medical problems may result in a change in your physical abilities. If you have experienced a stroke or other condition that has had a physical effect on your body, you may need to learn ways to adapt.

A robust program of therapy can challenge you and help determine your “new normal.” Remember that we often underestimate the body’s ability to recover; a stay in an occupational therapy nursing home is a crucial step in recovering lost function. Regular observation by the occupational therapy staff keeps your treatment at the optimal level during the recovery period.

The occupational nursing home can provide a more therapeutic healing environment than home and assists you in obtaining the highest level of function. And when the time comes to move back into your old living situation, you’ll have a better understanding of your abilities and any adaptations you may need.

Make a Strong Recovery With Occupational Therapy

A stay at an occupational nursing home can result in multiple benefits. Occupational therapy’s holistic approach means that you’ll be stronger, safer, and more likely to retain your independence when you return home.

If you’re considering a stay at a nursing home—whether or not you’re looking for occupational therapy services while you’re there—you need to know that you’re choosing the right one! To ensure you ask all the right questions as you search for the right facility, download your free nursing home evaluation checklist. It will provide you with examples of questions you can ask to learn more about the staff, residents, living areas, and more, so you can feel confident in your decision. Download your free checklist today!

nursing home evaluation checklist