Home Health #OT strategies to help avoid the burnout and find your flow... | Seniorsflourish.com #geriatricOT #occupationaltherapy

6 Tips for Home Health OTs to be Less Frazzled and More Potent: Finding your OT Sweet Spot this Year

Mandy Chamberlain MOTR/L Education & Tips for Independent Living 4 Comments

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I am excited to welcome Monika Lukasiewicz, OTR/L as a guest blogger today - she has some great home health OT strategies to help avoid the burnout and find your flow...


Why? It’s been long enough, that’s why. Really. When enough is enough, things finally change.

You sigh about that backpacking trip (you haven’t made time to take) and moan about the stack of bills that you owe Nelnet, AccessGroup, WellsFargo, and SallyMae. You wanna say yes to the overdue dance night, yet rest assured you know details about that new diagnosis.

You’ve been dreaming long enough. Plus, now (after reading this article) you’ve got do-it-today tips to address the little (or big) stressors that have been making walking a lap of life feel like the hurdles.

Let's get started. Any of this ring a bell?

“Uhh, what exercise?...  I feel over-friggin-whelmed… This is a LOT of paper and my system for organizing it sucks... There's gotta be a way to drive and talk on the phone WITHOUT getting a ticket and sounding like I'm in a cave...There have GOT to be more simple ways to document…  I wonder (as a home health OT) what truck drivers do to keep entertained while driving…”- real thoughts I've had.

After first feeling crazy, then realizing I'm an OT and I've got game... I mean... strategies, I got resourceful.

Here's to hoping these shortcuts help you too, find your sweet spot.

1.“I'll call ya back, just saw a cop. And no, I'm not in a cave.” Let's say you’ve really gotta get driving to the next errand and need to call the patient’s (or your own) daughter. Take a deep breath and consider getting a bluetooth earpiece.  (Personal fav: Plantronics Earpiece) A good bluetooth earpiece will allow you to talk hands free, for 6 hours straight while blocking out the car sounds or those other embarrassing background sounds.

2. “If only I didn't have to do paperwork.” To do list. Eval summary. You name it, we write it. Save your sanity and create an electronic template (aka shortcut). Add, copy, and paste with this sucker every day.  I have one titled “Notes and To Dos” and one titled “Evals.”

Here are the quick steps to making your own:

  • Open a Word document (or a similar program).
  • Save the document to an easily accessible location on your computer with a slick title.
  • Fill this document with all the mundane topics or outlines you usually re-type or address every day. Mine includes a section for: daily to dos, orders to follow up on, topics to research, outlines for evaluations, discharges, and cognitive assessment summaries.
  • RE-SAVE IT after updating it.
  • As needed, copy and paste outlines out from this document into other documents.

Home Health #OT strategies to help avoid the burnout and find your flow... | Seniorsflourish.com #geriatricOT #occupationaltherapyFor example: When I prepare for a new eval, I open the my Eval template which has an outline for a Home Health OT Eval, then I add to it as I research past medical history, interview the client and do skilled observations/assessments.

I re-save the document as I work, then paste the final draft into the required electronic assessment form at my company.  Using word and a template saves me time, SANITY, keeps me focused (not an easy task) and allows me to modify the data lickity-split.

3. “Why isn’t there a better way to organize all these papers?” I have the pleasure, mmm maybe better said as opportunity, to still be using paper scheduling as a home health OT. This being said, I carry file folders with forms galore and try to be slick about easy access to them all.

If this sounds like you, save yourself some stress and try Pendaflex Poly View Folders. Durable, water/coffee proof, clear. Keep them a bit more private and organized with this accordion folder.  The accordion folder helps you keep your class AND at least a dozen OT toolkit handouts easily organized as you take a seat to introduce yourself at the eval.

4. “...What exercise?” After falling out of my yoga routine with a wrist injury, I was introduced to Barre3. It's an OT-friendly workout (aka highly adaptable for all body types, abilities, and energy levels) available online in 10, 30, 40 and 60 minute segments or in studio for 60 minute classes. Your rump will rise. (Really!) It's even inspired a new way to grade tricep dips for the injured shoulder.  

Afterall, more potent is the OT who walks the talk (not just talks about how important exercise is to that new client). The more you take care of YOU, the more potent your OT practice will be. I’d bet money on it.

5. “Squirrel!” If there's one place my mind was most likely to represent a pixie-stick-lovin’ monkey, it was in the car. There had to be a more peaceful, less distracted and stressful way.  Turns out there are practices that help. Enrolling in a mindfulness course and developing a meditation routine have proved to be helpful, and now I highly recommend them to you.  

Please compassionately stop doing seven things at once. Do one. Invest time (and money, if necessary) to learn the skills of BEing, not just doing. I could yap all day about the “beauty of being” BUT If you want to really find your sweet spot (I’m convinced it’s waiting to find you), consider learning about meditation, mindfulness and/or flow.

(See the resource section for a link to a quick form created for the person wanting more flow, but not knowing where to begin. It was created after researching flow and OT which actually showed a link to mindfulness. I use this form to help me with flow, especially in the high stress weeks. I keep at least one blank copy in my car.)

6. “Whuh, whuh, whuh…Get with the moment!” Bored on the drive? Tap the podcast! My newest favorite podcast is groundbreaking for OTs working with older adults and is called Seniors Flourish. (Big fist pump and high five to Mandy on that one!) Other favorites include Senior Rehab Project (created by a home health PT), Ted Radio Hour, The Minimalists, and 10% Happier.

Wanna go deeper and learn to be more present during the drive? Study up on flow, meditation, and or mindfulness to help make even a silent drive enjoyable.  (There’s a quick, downloadable form. It’s evidence-based and can be filled out in 5 min to help understand and grow your flow. Start here.)

PS I can't review it YET, but it is in my May onward budget (only $14.99)  to become a member of The Learning Lab (and looks to be VERY helpful for the OT practicing with older adults).

Regardless of your area of practice, I am wishing you a life lived from your sweet spots and compassion for the moments that seem bitter.  Thanks for reading! Fist pump or scratch your head with me at [email protected].

Monika Lukasiewicz, OTR/L

Monika takes what helps in her own OT practice, and creates potent content to help you, her fellow OT. She believes that as you, the OT, are taken care of and grounded, your clients and practice will naturally flourish.

Feeling stuck with clients? Check out the article on Motivational Interviewing. Are you a home health OT wanting slick strategies?  Interested in finding more of your flow?  Check out the updated Flow Form (OT Flow Survey: From burnout to flow) for a quick download to begin your own self-research today.

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Comments 4

  1. Thank you for the helpful post as I am trying to look into ways to save time on documentation and keep myself sane as a new grad. X)

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    2. Glad you liked it! I’d be curious to see what helps you the most especially as you transition deeper into the profession and clinical work. Please know the updated flow form was specifically revised with your situation in mind (having been there and having felt very overwhelmed). Wishing you all the best and open to your feedback. Cheers.

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