At Home with VHA: Meet Heidi Bakker
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 is Occupational Therapy Month, so we’re recognizing some of the spectacular rehab therapists on our team. Meet Heidi Bakker, an Occupational Therapist on our team who provides care in London, Ontario.
Why did you choose a career in Occupational Therapy?
Heidi: I happened upon occupational therapy as a career due to my sister’s influence. She had been to university before me and had been looking at different options to pursue after she had completed her degree and when she would visit home, she would tell me about the profession. I was immediately drawn to the field and loved the scope of opportunity and what it stood for.
What is your favourite thing about being an OT in community care?
Heidi: I love the connections I get to make with clients and their families. Being able to work with them in their own space, not in a hospital room, makes it easier to bring home the concept of function, engagement and independence in a completely different light.
What do you think is the biggest impact of your work?
Heidi: The scope of Occupational Therapy is so wide and varied, but if I had to pick one of the facets of our role, it is in our ability to influence the ability to age in place safely.
Are there any client outcomes that have been particularly memorable to you?
Heidi: I am currently working with a client and his family, who are amazing on so many levels. When I was first brought in to work with him, he was not ready to accept or consider his diagnosis and that he might not ‘get better’. This first phase with him ended after reaching a few very focused goals of shower transfers and standing frame funding completion.
Within a few months, I was referred to him again and I have been able to work with him and his family and help them find a way to meet the goal of keeping him at home as his condition changes. He is living with ALS and his family will do anything to help him stay at home.
Together we have taken him from being on his bed in the basement bedroom, to a fully accessible home with the help of multiple funding applications that led to an over-head track, tilt in space shower commode, CEP chair, platform stair glide, and threshold ramps along with a temporary easy fold portable power chair to manage mobility in an inaccessible home. We have linked him to Ontario Disability Support Program applications and education on resources and supports to help them along the continuum of care.
What we have been able to achieve in the last 6 months is what occupational therapy is meant to do to support our clients. All of our community OT outcomes are memorable, but being able to help with so much on so many levels make this case a perfect example of what those in our profession can do to support our clients stay at home.
Anything else you would like to add?
Heidi: I just want to say how amazing our London OT team is as individual practitioners, but also as a support system to bring information, guidance and insight. No matter what you ask, our team always steps up to give their own experience and provide direction or resources you might not have known. I often talk about this with my clients. If I don’t know something, I am sure I have 20 people to call who might. The cumulative experience of our OT team has helped me so many times over my years of community practice. Standing ovation to the OT team for being so amazing!