Skill set grows among home health therapists

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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

YARMOUTH, Maine – Occupational and physical therapists working in home health settings are more receptive to accepting referrals for wheelchair evaluations during the public health emergency, says Cathy Carver.

“They weren’t real open to taking wheelchair referrals for CRT, because their funding model wasn’t conducive to the way the payment system was set up, then COVID hit and everyone has been navigating for ways to help, so they began to take wheelchair evaluation referrals,” said Carver, executive director of The Clinician Task Force, during a recent webcast on CRT and COVID-19 sponsored by NCART, NRRTS, The Clinician Task Force and U.S. Rehab. “It has really opened up the home health world.”

Carver says these therapists have learned the evaluations provide “nice opportunities” to help patients with other goals that they didn’t realize were available, like working on function and educating patient families.

They’ve also learned that their success very much hinges on the ATPs in their communities and “their willingness to help guide and teach and support” clinicians, Carver says.

One such clinician, Elaine Lu, a PT and ATP in Salt Lake City, Utah, says she relies heavily on coordinating with ATPs and vendors.

“That can be a challenge and in the current situation it’s even more of a challenge,” said Lu during the webcast.

Lu, who has more than 40 years of experience as a PT, offered the following tips for PTs and OTs working in a home health setting:

· Maintain safety for patient, therapist and ATP

· Provide the appropriate possible evaluation for CRT even if the situation may not be “prime” due to COVID-19 restrictions

· Be inventive and flexible with the patient, technology and ATP

· Conduct follow-up visits and/or referral to clinic if needed and feasible for patient to access

“I think this just brings us all to be more aware of what our home health colleagues are dealing with as they go in the homes, and ways that clinics and therapists might need to bridge some gaps and communicate with all of us across the continuum to best provide what our patients need,” Carver said. “Hopefully, this is building good relationships and teamwork and