In Occupational Therapy, The "Occupation" is Living

Nicole Coffey is an Occupational Therapists working at CVMC. She says patients frequently question the title on her hospital badge.

“They politely tell me that they don’t work, they’re retired, or they don’t have an occupation,” says Nicole. “I tell them that doesn’t matter. It’s my job to help them with the occupation of LIVING.”

She then explains her role is to help them live life to its fullest despite injury, illness, or disability. She focuses on getting them beyond problems and helps find solutions that can bring normalcy back into the patient’s life. These solutions may include adapting the way a task is accomplished, changing the surroundings or helping patients alter behaviors. Through a therapeutic approach, Nicole helps them create a plan for daily living, helps them develop needed skills, adjust their environments at home, school, or work and build health-promoting habits and routines that will allow them to thrive.

Nicole offers an example. “Last week I worked with a patient who is recovering from a stroke. After a short stay in CVMC’s inpatient rehabilitation unit, she has returned home but has been frustrated trying to feed her cat. I asked her to bring in a jar of cat food to her outpatient rehab appointment. We worked together 30 minutes and figured out a solution to help her open the cat food container.”

Occupational therapists are part of an interdisciplinary team approach CVMC employs in the rehabilitation process. To learn more about CVMC’s Occupational Therapy services, call 828.326.3100..