At Home with VHA: Meet Curtis Heimstra
At Home with VHA tells the stories of those who make up our workforce. In every role, VHA care providers and staff champion the needs of our clients and create possibilities for more independence. October marks Occupational Therapy Month, so we’re recognizing some of the spectacular rehab therapists on our team. Meet Curtis Heimstra, an Occupational Therapist on our team who provides care in London, Ontario.
Why did you choose a career in Occupational Therapy?
Curtis: My choice to pursue Occupational Therapy as a career was influenced by my mom’s journey with cancer. She always spoke so highly of the many health professionals she interacted with while undergoing rounds of treatment and surgeries but emphasized how she really appreciated her OT who was helping her to get back home to be with her 4 boys. To me, this highlighted the positive impact that Occupational Therapy can have on people’s lives. This impact was formative for me in my teenage years – I knew I wanted to give back and instill this sense of hope and meaning to others as a result!
What is your favourite thing about being an OT in community care?
Curtis: My favourite thing about being an OT in home care is getting to address my clients’ concerns within their unique contexts and environments. There is so much value in getting to see and learn how people participate in their everyday activities in the comfort of their own home – the power of observation allows for OTs to collaborate with clients and families to determine appropriate solutions.
What do you think is the biggest impact of your work?
Curtis: The biggest impact of my work is in the palliative care space. As a home care OT, it is such a privilege to support clients and their families to experience dignity and comfort in dying at home.
Are there any client outcomes that have been particularly memorable to you?
Curtis: One of my most memorable client experiences to date was my work with a non-verbal individual who was having difficulty tolerating showering tasks with their care workers. In collaboration with vendor and funding partners, I was able to support this client to obtain a wheeled commode to improve shower safety and facilitate their bathing routine. I can fondly remember the excitement that my client expressed when they were able to sit in and try out the commode on a visit and their care workers later reported that my client had become so excited with every shower day from that point onward! Definitely one of the many OT ‘feel-good’ moments I’ve experienced in my work with VHA.