OT in Primary Care - Being relevant in the COVID-19 crisis.

Last Thursday (April 9) I delivered a short webinar to approximately 70 Kiwi Occupational Therapists about how we can work with General Practitioners (and Practice Nurses) to support wellbeing in the community. OTNZ -WNA sponsored this event and made it happen.

I shared some stories of Louise’s and my own practice over the last few years as we have forged some effective working relationships with GPs in our local area in Christchurch. We are currently providing “in-house” occupational therapy, one day a week, in 2 General Practices and are about to start in a 3rd practice. More recently, the COVID-19 crisis has presented us with a new way of working with GPs to help them help their patients (all via tele-health of course!).

Here are just a few things we OTs can support people in the community with in this crisis:

  • support to establish and maintain daily routines that support healthy habits, effective wellbeing behaviours and participation in meaningful occupation
  • education about choosing occupations that promote wellbeing and reducing/eliminating occupations that do not
  • practical coaching in coping strategies for managing stress, anxiety, grief, loss and over-whelm
  • re-visiting strategies for self management of long term health conditions such as mental health issues, pain, fatigue, sleep disturbance and age related frailty
  • encouraging people to explore new ways of being, within a framework of productivity, leisure and self-care…this might include looking at developing new skills or interests or re-engaging in occupations from the past
  • connect people with supports and services in the local community for on-going support needs during the crisis

Occupational Therapy in General Practice is a relatively new frontier for our profession. We need to use situations like the COVID-19 crisis to communicate and demonstrate to General Practice what it is we can offer their patients. This is an opportunity for us to explore new ways of practicing, to sharpen up our skills and be relevant to GPs. One of the best things we can do right now to to help GPs help their challenging or complex patients.

Attached is the Thrive OT OTNZ Webinar Power Point presentation from last week

I have also attached this handout –  Thrive – What we do that lists in more detail the sorts of practical things that OTs can offer General Practices as part of an in-house service. Please feel free to use this as a guide for your own communication with General Practice.

If you would like to join Louise and myself on this OT journey into General Practice, please get in touch with Louise or myself to have a one-on-one supervision session.

He waka eke noa.

  1. Hi Catherine
    Thanks for the information above. There is a lot of ‘Food for thought” information. During the seminar you mentioned some training in palliative care/end of life preparation. Could you provide more information on the training and where it’s available? Thank-you.

    1. Hi Joanne,
      is you have a look at the information about Advance Care Planning in the Health Quality and Safety Commission website there is lots of information. Many regions run training in Advance Care Planning from time to time.
      I would be happy to have a supervision session with you to discuss this area of practice for OTs.
      Kind regards

    2. Hi Jo, Ot Christine Pacey ( Cromwell) works in this she may be able to direct you to the appropriate training channels. also, I remember there was an OT working at DN public who was working in the oncology ward as a ‘counsellor’ she was a trained counsellor. I think she may well be HOD now. Worth a check!

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