The Occupational Therapy Section has had a very busy and productive year. With Covid-19 impacting us we were pushed into making many changes to our service in a very short time frame. All the OT’s stepped up to the challenge and great things happened this year!
Over the months that we were working from home we worked with several virtual services that we will continue to use in the future as the pandemic subsides. Some of the services we accessed/developed are as follows:
- Virtual assessment tools – we are currently using the Sensory Processing Measure in an on-line format. This has helped us to administer the test from a distance and also assisted us to score it much faster than with the paper copy.
- Virtual programs – we developed programs that could be administered to children virtually through Teams meetings. Some programs that were very successful were Social Thinking Program, Fine and Gross Motor Group Activities, Handwriting Without Tears Group Activities. These programs will be used many times in the future to assist many children and families.
- Teams Meeting links – this has allowed us to see children both in town and for outreach services by video chat. It worked to provide service through the pandemic but we are finding we are still using this for many children both for in and out of town. Outreach children are getting more services than in the past as we can now see them when we are not in their community. We have much more frequent communication with the schools, preschools and community organizations. This is a great resource and is cost effective for decreasing travel. It is time effective as well. We will continue to use these services where it makes sense both in and out of town for the families.
- Parent education workshops on sensory strategies were developed and presented virtually.
On top of changes to virtual services we also worked hard in other areas to improve our current services by:
- We have also developed a new in person group. We applied for and received funding through the Goodlife Kids Foundation, for a group that we partnered with Overhang Rock Climbing to complete. Some of the goals worked on in the climbing group included: motor planning, upper body strengthening, skills such as following the rules, turn taking, following a plan and managing sensory issues in a community environment. With the families that participated all found this to be an extremely successful group both for enjoyment and learning skills. We have applied for another grant to continue this in the fall.
- OT Staff throughout the pandemic also capitalized on the increased learning resources available on line to help keep us current in the latest best practice. All of us took several courses and attended conferences all over the world which had previously been unavailable to us. We have implemented the learning into the care of the children we see.
- Expanding school age services. We learned how to tap into a variety of funding sources to provide much needed service to older children. We have been serving several school districts who did not previously have access to OT services, as well as many children individually with special needs. The program is expanding daily and we currently have a waitlist for service. We recently implemented some changes to our processes in the hopes we can help more children in the community.
- Even though in person services were more limited this year we managed to mentor 6 OT students from the University of Alberta and the University of British Columbia, to help them enter the profession. We assisted the Native Friendship Centre by mentoring their new OT until she was fully licensed. On top of that Jody was asked to volunteer on the Masters of Occupational therapy (MOT) curriculum committee and participate in the evaluation of the MOT applications and interviews.
All in all it was an exciting year with lots of change and we look forward to using all these resources for in person care of children this year. We have some new groups planned and have started implementing them. In this fiscal year we will be running:
- Pre-kindergarten groups for children who are not successful in pre-school without support. The group will work on following the group plan, sitting at circle in a school environment and participating with other children. This will focus on children with autism type symptoms. This group will be in conjunction with SLP and SCD.
- Social thinking groups will be running consecutively for all our children with social difficulties. We are also looking at setting up social thinking for our older children to assist them as well.
- A virtual feeding workshop for parents of children who are picky eaters will be developed to assist them to learn how to help their children.
The next year promises to be as exciting as the past so we look forward to lots of change and innovation in order to serve our kids to the best of our ability.
Lead Occupational Therapist