Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Self Care - Help for this important part of life and development

October is Occupational Therapy Month! What better time to learn more about OT?   
...If you are not quite sure what Occupational Therapy (or OT for short) is, don’t worry, you’re not alone!

Occupational Therapy is a health profession that empowers people of all ages to overcome barriers in their everyday lives so they can do more and live better (OTOntario.ca, 2018)

Occupational Therapy looks at your ‘occupations’, or any daily activity/task that is meaningful in your life and works together with you to figure out ways to accomplish that task. Sometimes we might suggest an assistive device, other times we might modify your surrounding environment, or we may explore different ways of completing a task. The possibilities are endless!

OT’s tend to group occupations into 3 categories:

1)    Self-Care

2)    Productivity
3)  Leisure

In this series of blog posts, we will be exploring each of these 3 categories to help you better understand what they are all about and what OT can do to help.


Self-care encompasses everything that you might need to do to take care of yourself. This can include basic personal care such as getting dressed, toileting, feeding yourself or it can be more complex tasks such as shaving, taking medications or nail hygiene. Anyone can experience difficulties with self-care at any point in their lives, which can be due to injury, chronic disease, disability, age, mental health or a multitude of other concerns.

So what can OT do to help?... Well, an OT would start by looking at all aspects of your life, the activity in question and your surrounding environment to first establish what might be getting in the way of you being able to take care of yourself. From there, an OT would work collaboratively with you to determine appropriate solutions to the problem.

Let’s look at an example... Let’s say your child is having difficulties feeding themselves during mealtime.  An OT would start by observing a typical meal time and gathering information on the challenges:
  • Is the child having difficulties holding their spoon? 
  • Sitting in their chair? 
  • Do they understand how to feed themselves? 
  • Do they look like they are in distress?
What about their environment ? does the social and physical environment set the child up for success? What is the lighting like in the room? What about the noise level? The kitchen set-up? Further assessments are often necessary.

Then onto solutions! ...Sometimes a modification such as an adapted utensil or seating may be all that is needed. Other times, a more in-depth and routine feeding therapy involving gradual exposure to a food might be the answer. Often social-sensory issues are at play.  Each situation is unique and requires an in-depth look and evaluation. 

OT’s recognize that each individual presents with their own set of unique circumstances. This means that no single treatment plan will ever be the same! If you or a loved one is experiencing challenges with SELF-CARE, please contact your Occupational Therapist today. Stay tuned next week to learn more about productivity occupational therapy.


written by Rachel Tavares, OT (Reg. Ont), Occupational Therapist, BODiWORKS Institute 

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