FAQs About Occupational Therapy
Occupational therapy is a health profession that assists people with all forms of disability – physical, cognitive, emotional, behavioral, or developmental, to function as independently and safely as possible in all life roles. Occupational therapists strive to assist people to resume or maintain participation in tasks that they consider meaningful under the domains of personal care, productivity and leisure.
Our treatment is often in the form of direct client intervention at home, work or school. We provide education, creative solutions to functional problems, equipment, and hands on treatment to rectify the impact of physical, cognitive or emotional disability in all environments. These videos about OT also well conceptualize and explain what we do and how we help!
In Ontario, we are regulated by the College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario which regulates our practice requirements to ensure we are fulfilling our professional duties and are adhering to our required code of conduct.
Occupational and physical therapists have a similar focus when treating clients – to help people resume functional life considering a disability. However, while physical therapists help people to RECOVER from their disability, occupational therapists help people to LIVE with their disability (whether permanent or temporary). Some clients may have an injury (e.g. a sprained ankle) that is painful but does not limit them from functioning in their required life roles. In this case they would only require physical therapy to decrease pain and increase strength in the injured joint. On the other hand, while some people may have recovered physically from an injury, they may not have found a way to function optimally with the ongoing problem. In this case, occupational therapy could help. However, in most cases people benefit from a combined program including both physical and occupational therapy, and the two professions collaborate well in providing optimal client care.
OT services can be obtained both publically (government services) and privately (i.e. us!). Feel free to call us and we will help you to determine if you have funding available for occupational therapy.
However, additional information about funding is as follows:
If you are hospitalized as a result of an illness or injury and this causes a resulting disability, you will likely be referred to an occupational therapist while in hospital. This person will clearly explain their role and will work with your overall rehabilitation team in order to facilitate your discharge. Should you continue to require occupational therapy once discharged, your hospital therapist will likely arrange these services through the local Community Care Access Centre (or CCAC) (should no other funding sources be applicable). Alternatively, if you feel that you or a relative require occupational therapy services, you can self-refer to your local CCAC or can discuss your needs with your doctor.
The Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) will provide community-based occupational therapy services, however the wait is long and the services in many regions are limited. If you are receiving Ontario Disability Support Pension (ODSP), often they will fund occupational therapy services to prescribe equipment that is available through ODSP and the Assistive Devices Program (ADP). Entwistle Power can provide privately funded ODSP occupational therapy assessments if waiting for the CCAC is not optimal. ADP is a program that provides 75% funding for some equipment for people that qualify. To qualify, you need to be assessed by an occupational therapist and we provide these services privately if public funding for the same is not available. People may also be able to access occupational therapy through the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) if applicable.
For children, many regions have publicly funded pediatric programs with therapists trained to provide developmental or rehabilitation services, or school support. You will need to ask your doctor or pediatrician about the services available in your area. Or, see below for information about other forms of funding support for pediatric therapy.
If you are injured at work, in a car accident, or are off-work because of a disability, you may have private funding for occupational therapy through an insurance company. In that case, call your insurer, or speak to a lawyer if you need clarification on the services available to you. Or, call us and we can help you to determine if there is funding, and how you might be able to access it.
If you are injured at work or in a motor vehicle accident then you may be referred to an occupational therapist by way of third party funding (auto insurance or WSIB). In this case, the occupational therapist typically does not work for the funding source, but rather assists the funding source to identify your rehabilitation needs to help you return to function within your home, workplace, and community.
If you are a parent who has a child with a disability, your family doctor or pediatrician will likely refer your child to a local pediatric rehabilitation clinic for occupational therapy assessment and treatment. In this case, the occupational therapist will work with your child in order to assist them to achieve developmental milestones, to be able to explore their environment through play, to prescribe equipment to enhance function, and to assist your child to enter and succeed in school. The therapist will also ensure that you as a parent are adjusting to and managing your demands as the caregiver of your child with unique needs.
Of course, as our public health system is not perfect, many people that need occupational therapy are not able to access this through public means. In this case, you are able to self-refer to a private occupational therapist that will bill you directly for their services. Entwistle Power OT offers such services.
Like with any healthcare professional, you have the right to choose your provider. If you have a therapist that you are not happy with, try approaching them first and explaining to them how you are feeling with respect to their services. If you are not comfortable with this, or are unhappy with their response, try approaching their direct superior or the owner of the company they work for to ask for a change in service provider. While we try to work well with everyone, at times it just makes sense to move to another clinician. As health professionals we are trained to accept this and no clinician should make you feel bad or guilty for wanting a change.
If you feel that any occupational therapist you have been working with has behaved inappropriately, unethically, or has put you at risk of harm, consider contacting our College (www.coto.org) to file a complaint. If you are looking to make a change in your service provider, please give us a call and we’ll let you know if we can help.
In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life. It goes on.