What Is Home Health Occupational Therapy?

What Is Home Health Occupational Therapy?. GettyImages

Home health occupational therapists are like life coaches that come to the home to help people learn about new ways, including the use of equipment, to get daily things done.  Some of these daily things include: getting shirts, blouses, underwear, bras, shoes and socks on and off, making a meal, taking a bath or shower, using the toilet and taking care of how to wipe and get clean.

Home health occupational therapists come to the patient’s home as part of the home health team.

  In addition to occupational therapy, home health services can include nursing, social work, speech therapy, and physical therapy.  The way home health is started is with the approval of a qualified doctor.  Most patients that are receiving home health have recently gotten home after a stay at the hospital or a rehabilitation center.  The reason the person needs home health is because they are not yet “back to normal” and are not safe or able to get out of the house easily.  (If patients are able to easily get out of the house to appointments, they are not considered “homebound” and are therefore not eligible for home health.) 

What to expect from your occupational therapy sessions.

The home health occupational therapist will ask the patient questions about what an average day was like before being in the hospital and what the new challenges are in being home again.  Most patients struggle with at least one of these areas: getting fully dressed in the morning, taking a safe shower/bath, or getting to the toilet, up and down from it and wiping fully.

  With the help of occupational therapy, people learn new ways to do the common, yet-newly-challenging, activities.  Occupational therapists can also work with caregivers to establish new ways of being helpful and that can prevent burnout. Tips can be provided for how to arrange the environmental to prevent falls and preserve energy.


An average visit with a home health occupational therapists is 30-45 minutes and usually takes place 1-3x per week depending on the goals identified.  Each session will include the taking of the patient's vital signs (oxygen saturation, blood pressure, temperature, pulse, respirations).  The occupational therapist will keep in touch with the other members of the home health team, including the doctor, about any new or important information.  The overarching goal of home health occupational therapy is to educate the patient and his/her family so that they can all remain at home with as much safety, independence and good management of medical conditions as possible to prevent a re-admittance to the hospital or another fall.

The uniqueness of occupational therapy.

Most people do not know about all the unique products that have been made to help people with different abilities do daily activities, but occupational therapist DO know about these things and will tell their patients about them!  There are not only strategies but also gadgets that can help patients eat with greater ease, get out of bed easier, get up from the toilet easier, to wipe more easily and even to get dressed with more ease.

  The list could go on for pages!  Each occupational therapist can individualize the recommendations and training to the patient’s specific needs and abilities.

If you know an individual struggling at home to manage his/her health condition(s), to be safe with medications or to take a shower, please suggest that s/he talk with their doctor about getting home health.

Want even more info?

For individuals wanting more info on occupational therapy in home health:

For occupational therapists and other health team members wanting more info about deepening the quality of practice:

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