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Positioning Occupational Therapists as Leaders in Seniors Health & Well-being

Positioning Occupational Therapists as Leaders in Seniors Health & Well-being

As treasurer of OSOT, Lesya Dyk contributed the following article to OSOT members via “A Monthly Message from the OSOT Board of Directors” regarding seniors aging in palace which is a current focus of interest as June is National Seniors Month.

Occupational therapy has a significant role to play in helping seniors lead healthy and productive lives. OSOT is working hard to support our members with several initiatives to address the aging population in Canada.

Aging Population Chart

According to Statistics Canada – by 2038, a quarter of our population will be over the age of 65. This will mean that there will be 4.8 million more people over the age of 65 than there are now. The current resources available in health care will not be able to gear up to meet this need.

The reality is that the crisis of how to meet the health needs of the aging population is here. What is certain, there will be more of a role for Occupational Therapy – if we are careful and ready ourselves . This BoardTalk is dedicated to how OSOT is working toward this goal. Consider the following 5 examples of our commitment.

1. Home Modification Canada Steering Committee (HMC)

OSOT was a founding member of the Steering Committee of a consortium called Home Modification Canada (HMC) that was struck by Don Fenn of Caregiver Omnimedia in 2015 to address the “Ageing in Place” issue. While it is clear that a lack of long term care resources will necessitate seniors aging in place, that is, in fact, where research tells us they want to be. HMC was focused on promoting the need to better organize and integrate the home modification marketplace to best meet the needs of that growing aging population who wish to age in place.

In the spring of 2017 HMC made a presentation to the Canadian Home Builders Association (CHBA) with a proposal to develop a multi-faceted national partnership approach that would;

  • support builders/contractors, manufacturers, retailers and set standards, accredit and ensure the quality and value of home modifications

  • coordinate information about existing funding/financing mechanisms for home renovations/modifications

  • support the Canadian Licensing of the CAPS (Certified Ageing in Place Specialist) programme to include a re-written section on Occupational Therapy

  • foster more dynamic public conversations about aging in place and home modifications

  • encourage the application of research and innovation in the fields of smart home technologies, practical products and solutions for home modifications and accessibility

  • support national, provincial and local policy makers to remove barriers, facilitate and incent home modifications for seniors

HMC’s report and recommendations were well received by the CHBA which has moved forward to develop a national Home Modification Council. The best news? Our early work and representation and advocacy with HMC has resulted in occupational therapy being the only health profession represented at the Council table!

I have had the pleasure of representing OSOT at the HMC Steering Committee, experiencing the respect and support of our colleague stakeholders in the home modification marketplace, and am delighted to continue this representation at the CHMA Council Table as CAOT now takes on the professional representational role at a national level.

2. OSOT’s Seniors Advisory Council

Two years ago, the Board of Directors engaged a group of members to advise on how best the Society could advance the profession as leaders in seniors health and well-being. As a strategic priority, a focus on seniors has informed initiatives OSOT has undertaken in advocacy, promotion and professional development in virtually all sectors of OT practice, however, our ability to move the needle in terms of leadership and recognition in seniors health is something we wished to advance more fully. Under the chairmanship of Dr. Barry Trentham, our council includes Christie Brenchley, Barbara Cawley, Dr. Catherine Donnelly, Dr. Colleen McGrath, Aaron Yuen and Dr. Briana Zur.

3. A Vision for Enabling Healthy Aging in Ontario – a knowledge mobilization too initiative!

Approving a recommendation and proposal of the Seniors Advisory Council, OSOT is embarking on a new project initiative which aims to promote the evidence-based value of using an occupational lens to respond to the needs of a growing older adult population. Focused on the development of a dynamic website that features modules focused on key life course occupational transitions and profiles the work that occupational therapists are doing and/or could be doing to enable aging well, the project is focused on knowledge mobilization both within and external to the profession.

An enabler of this project has been the successful application of the Society to become a partner of AGE-WELL, Canada’s Aging and Technology Network.

AGE-WELL’s co-funding and resource support to the project both recognizes the value of promoting and enriching occupational therapy as a resource to aging well, but also provides access to knowledge translation resources to support OSOT members who share a practice interest in seniors health and well-being. Watch for our formal launch of this partnership later this month!

Meantime, see our posting for a Post-Doctoral Trainee for a position commencing September 2018 and running to August 2019. This full-time position will take a leadership role in the development, facilitation and evaluation of this knowledge mobilization project. There’s still time to apply! See call for applications.

4. Supporting members practice expertise & leadership relating to seniors health and well-being

Assuming leadership roles in seniors health and well-being requires a ready and informed membership. You have OSOT’s commitment to support your professional development to enable you to position your services to serve the needs of seniors and the health system that supports them.

OSOT’s Conference 2018, ADVANCE! Journey to Excellence,

provides but one opportunity to get involved, participate and learn. This year we will host a professional issues/leadership forum focused on advancing our profession’s roles in seniors health and well-being – plan to be a part! Reserve the Conference dates – October 19 – 20, 2018 now!

The Society continues to look at opportunities to host webinars and workshops to give our membership the tools that they need to work in this arena. Watch for the 2018 – 19 PD Program of Events and check out our listing of Archived Webinars that can support your practice in this area.

5. Advocacy to position occupational therapy in seniors health services

OSOT continues to advocate for occupational therapy services for seniors across Ontario’s health care system. Our advocacy document, Occupational Therapy Can Help; challenges of an aging population has been shared broadly with government and amongst MPPs at our annual MPP Luncheon. There are so many ways that OTs can contribute and make meaningful differences to seniors health and quality of life, however, Ontarians need increased access to OT services! We have active advocacy and government relations strategies relating to:

As the OSOT Board puts the finishing touches on our new Strategic Plan, we will reveal how we will continue to advance work that supports our members, senior citizen clients and their families to ask for Occupational Therapy Services… and to access them! Stay tuned!

Lesya DykLesya Dyk,
President and Director of Clinical Service,
LDOT Services.

360 Queenston Rd., 2nd Floor, Unit# 3
Hamilton, ON
L8K 1H9

Hamilton: 905-481-1122
Toronto: 416-907-6287
Fax: 905-481-2550
Email: info@ldot.ca

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Happy Holidays – Is your house visitable?

Happy Holidays – Is your house visitable?

At the recent National Institute of Aging conference held in Toronto, I was a speaker representing OSOT and the Home Modifications Canada Steering Group. The afternoon session was lead by a presentation by Jamie Shipley, a knowledge transfer consultant with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. He and I have done presentations together before about accessibility for seniors wishing to Age in Place.

Lesya Dyk

At the recent National Institute of Aging conference held in Toronto, I was a speaker representing OSOT and the Home Modifications Canada Steering Group. The afternoon session was lead by a presentation by Jamie Shipley, a knowledge transfer consultant with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. He and I have done presentations together before about accessibility for seniors wishing to Age in Place.

He asked that the members in the audience raise their hand if they were a “caregiver”. A few members of the audience raised their hands….

Then he asked how many of the audience help their family members (change in definition), and a significantly larger number of hands were raised.

Then, he asked that all the people who had their hands up, to keep their hands up, if those family members who needed care, were coming to their house over the holidays… and most of the hands went down…

The truth is, that most of us live in homes that are not “visitable” – what is visitable?

Visitable is now a term that encompasses adaptability, accessibility and inclusivity – it means that a home can be visited by almost anyone with no major impediments to access into the home or to the bathroom. Accessible is a concept that we as OT’s are more familiar with, but the drawback to this concept is that the issue is that it denotes that disability must exist. But age is not a disability – it is a normal life stage, and we in Canada are at the brink of a crisis….

According to statistics provided by the CMHC, by 2038, 24% of all Canadians will be seniors 65+, and 35% will be 55+. And to bring it back to today – a full third of Canadians now over 65 have some form of disability.

With all of us marching into this ageing cohort – where will we all live? There are no more Long Term Facilities that the province is building, and homes, townhomes and condominiums are being built all over without thought or incentive to making them spaces where we can easily and safely age…..

Many designers, architects, and contractors are now promoting “Inclusive or Universal Design Principles”. These include:

  • Equality
  • Flexibility
  • Simple and Intuitive
  • Easily perceived
  • Tolerance for error
  • Minimal effort
  • Size and space considerations for function

And where do we fit in? Well, Universal Design is not universal, and an OT has the knowledge skills and training to help a person function in their environments. The other issue, is that OT’s have their eye on function – and the client, and the future… This unique perspective is now being understood and valued.

To focus the lens just a bit more – Fall Prevention has been identified as the most important issue that we face and will be facing in healthcare when it comes to our ageing population. ( Tilak Dutta, PEng, Toronto Rehab)

According to Centre for Disease Control published study:

  • In 2012–2013, 55% of all unintentional injury deaths among adults aged 65 and over were due to falls.
  • From 2000 through 2013, the age-adjusted fall injury death rate among adults aged 65 and over nearly doubled from 29.6 per 100,000 to 56.7 per 100,000.
  • Falls cause more accidental deaths than all other causes COMBINED.
  • Over 3/4 of all falls occur in or near the home

And then, when we think about Dementia…

  • Dementia – mostly associated with confusion, reduced short term memory, reduced ability for new learning and later, motor coordination and visual perception difficulties
  • Alzheimer’s Dementia is most common seen in the elderly population
  • 20% over 80 years old have some form of dementia
  • Persons with Dementia who fall have 3 times the risk of death within one year than their counterparts without dementia

In order to prevent falls, the risks and risk factors need to be understood. As OT’s we can assess this, and provide a solution to meet the challenge. If it is low vision – then contrasting colours should be used. If it is reduced strength, then exercise may be indicated. If the issue is balance – is the underlying cause cardiac or neurological, or a change in medication? And what transfers are affected – how do we keep our clients from falls?

Best Practice…

Based on recommendations from the American Geriatric Society and British Geriatric Society (2010) updated in 2016 in: “Clinical practice Guideline: Prevention of Falls in Older Persons’, the summary of recommendations include:

“a home environment assessment carried out by a health care professional should be included in a multifactorial assessment and intervention for older persons who have fallen or who have risk factors for falling”

Although it does not specify Occupational Therapy, it is clear that this work is in our realm. We have the ability to assess the person, their environment, and their occupation, and make recommendations that make sense for our clients now, and in the future.

As we approach the Holiday Season, we the Board who serve OSOT on your behalf wish you all a safe, and happy holiday season, and a prosperous and healthy 2017.

As you begin to gather up your family and friends, start thinking of your own homes, your own spaces….your future selves and your own careers. This my colleagues, is where all our futures lie.

Home is where people want to age , they are happier and it is cheaper….

Prof. Barry Trentham,
O.T. Reg. (Ont) UofT

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