When Neetu Kumar walks into a client’s house, she doesn’t just whip out her clipboard.
She takes a look at her surroundings, sits down with the client and tries to truly connect with them.
Maybe they are a cancer patient, growing weak from chemotherapy, or someone who has been in a traumatic car accident where they lost a limb.
She knows that whatever they are facing, it’s traumatic and difficult. It’s her job to help make things a little easier.
“It enables a person for fuller living,” said the Brampton resident, who is the winner of the 2021 Client Choice Award, from VHA Home HealthCare.
Kumar has been working as an occupational therapist for 25 years.
“We see patients in the community when they’re discharged from hospital,” she said, explaining that her role is to help the person adjust to new challenges, to do things that they want to be able to do at home.
This could be showering independently, cooking and cleaning, getting up the stairs and more.
“We try to work around solutions to help the clients maintain their independence,” she said, explaining that this could mean ordering assistive devices, working on falls prevention, or managing a loss of vision.
“It has to be client-centred,” she said. “We don’t impose anything.”
Kumar is the treasurer for the Ontario Society for Occupational therapists, and also a clinical lead for VHA Home HealthCare’s assistive devices program.
She says that occupational therapy can bring hope and dignity to people facing difficult situations, and hopes that there will be more funding from the federal and provincial government in the future for it.
This article was originally written by Alexandra Heck and published in The Brampton Guardian and The Toronto Star on Friday, November 26, 2021.