What do National Peach Cobbler Day, Thomas Jefferson’s birthday, and Occupational Therapy (OT) Month have in common? If you guessed that they’re all celebrated in April- you’ve got it! While delicious cobbler and our former president are by no means insignificant, The Green House® Project is particularly eager to acknowledge the OT profession and the dozens of clinical support team members that support growth and meaningful lives for Green House elders each day of the year.
In What Are Old People For?, Dr. Bill Thomas identifies habilitation as “the effort to bring forth existing but latent potential within a person or group of people. It is distinguished from rehabilitation– a term that presumes a defect to be rectified or a brokenness that must be prepared.” Similarly, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) defines the OT profession as one which “helps people engage in living life to its fullest.” With parallel efforts to reframe society’s declinist perspective on aging, it isn’t surprising that many Occupational Therapy practitioners are drawn to the holistic, person-centered approach supported by the Green House model.
Andrea Tyck began her career as an OT Assistant and is currently the Wellness Director and future Green House Guide at Mt. San Antonio Gardens in Pomona, CA. “Amidst the loss that elders face, our role is to help people move forward- to see beyond loss and support continued growth,” says Andrea.
Just as Eden Principle #6 recognizes that “meaningless activity corrodes the human spirit”, Occupational Therapy is designed to support activities that are meaningful and purposeful for each individual. “Occupational Therapy is not just about enhancing function,” explains Andrea, “but it is supporting development for a larger purpose. In deeply knowing individual interests and rhythms of the day, OT interventions are more effective at meeting personal goals.”
While long corridors, tight schedules, and departmental silos can serve as barriers in traditional long-term care “facilities”, the Green House model is designed to support individual growth in an environment that is more than homelike– it is home. Opportunities for purposeful activities abound in a small environment that supports intentional community and meaningful engagement. What better reason to maintain or regain abilities at mealtime than the smell of a home-cooked meal and an opportunity to share convivium with your friends and family? This month, be sure to set an extra place at the table and show appreciation for the role of Occupational Therapy practitioners as care partners, mentors, and cheerleaders for elders, staff, and families. (You might as well celebrate with peach cobbler for dessert, while you’re at it!)
For more information, visit the American Occupational Therapy Association