Category: Services for Professionals

Connecting to Other Disciplines

Blog provided by Krista Covell-Pierson, Owner of Covell Care & Rehabilitation, LLC.

If you start a private practice, or a business in general, it’s time to start thinking about your community. You will develop marketing plans and networking opportunities but I recommend you also become an expert knowing who does what in your community. You need to make referrals with confidence for your clients and developing strong community relationships is key to client, and business, success. I meet too many healthcare workers that do not make enough referrals for their clients and have little awareness of additional services and experts in their area that could improve their clients’ lives. This seems like a big injustice to those we serve. All of us need to get our boots on the ground to meet fellow community members. People worry more about people stealing their referrals than they do about collaboration and service. 

A great way to develop relationships is remembering that you are still a student. This will never end, even if you hit the 30 year mark as a therapist. Start asking questions and get curious. Pick up local publications and visit places your clients visit. It is easy to focus on what you need for your professional licenses and meeting your annual CEU requirements. Remember that this is just the bare minimum recommended for people to maintain competence in their skill set. As business owners and leaders, we should look to grow our minds beyond the bare minimum, shouldn’t we? I encourage you to reach past your own discipline and learn about topics regardless of the CEU benefits. Dive into the big world of learning. You won’t regret it. 

Here are two examples of how I embrace learning outside of my world of OT in the home. 

  1. I primarily work with older adults and knowing that so many people fear aging I decided to go to an anti-aging seminar in Las Vegas. I was blown away. So many things on the market that I had never heard of, doctors helping clients stay young in every way and a line that looked a mile long for people to get a “free” treatment for hair loss. Things I learned at that conference did not directly impact my day-to-day therapy provisions. But, they expanded my awareness about the aging process and I gained an increased empathy for the overall experience of growing older. I am better for it. 
  2. I sign up for various companies’ emails and watch for educational opportunities. For example, our payroll company does 20 minute tutorials online about an array of topics from how to organize your HR files and what to do at the end of the year with your payroll reports. I try to hop on their webinars as often as I can. I usually sign off with a new little golden nugget of knowledge that helps me run my business with more confidence. It also helps me get to know who works in our payroll’s office and when they pick up the phone I can initiate a conversation with them about the great job they did and what I learned. 

More than likely you live in (or near) an area that is full of ways to plug in educationally. If you look at community center calendars, your local Small Business Development Center or subscribe to a listserv for your city’s events you will likely see plenty that peaks your interest! Often times events are low cost or even free. The point is to get out there and connect. 

On top of getting out in the community, I encourage business owners or managers to consider starting their own education focused group to bring the community to them. I know as a practitioner how hard it is to stay on top of a caseload of clients as well as stay up on all the services in the community. Transitioning from a setting where I saw other practitioners everyday at the SNF to a lonely road warrior doing home visits, I knew my exposure to others’ talents was few and far between. I wanted to continue learning from people in my community so I started bringing folks in to present to my team of contractors and staff. We only brought people in for education and didn’t look at it as an opportunity for people to come in just to plug their business. We wanted to grow as practitioners and as people that could provide quality resources to our clients. 

As time went on, I decided we could serve our community in a bigger way by opening the group up to anyone wanting to learn and expand their awareness of services available in our own backyards. So, four years ago, “Clinicians and Comrades” was born. We meet every month for one hour. Our speakers volunteer their time and we request that none of them use it as a platform for direct referral recruitment. This is simply a place to geek out on what they’re really good at like low vision strategies, diabetes management, making homes accessible, hospice care, mental health assessments and other important topics. 

If you want to start your own group here are some suggestions: 

  1. Find a location that will allow you to use their space on a regular basis free of charge. Senior housing facilities like the foot traffic and exposure and may be happy to host your group. Or, churches and rec centers may offer space for free. 
  2. Set a routine time and stick to it. 
  3. Start an email list of people to invite. Build on the list every month by using a sign-in sheet for attendees. Send a reminder a day or two before the meeting. 
  4. Name your group. 
  5. Ask people to present in advance. We typically have our entire calendar for the year built out before the end of February. 
  6. Send thank you notes to presenters. They are giving their time away for free so definitely show your gratitude. 
  7. Request speakers stick to the clinical information and don’t launch into a sales pitch. 
  8. End on time. 
  9. Take pictures with permission and share!   
  10. Send certifications of attendance to your audience members.

The sky’s the limit with all you can learn and apply to your practice. Do your best to stay fresh and up to date on industry and community trends and changes. Our clients and patients need us to stay committed to being the most well-rounded and capable clinicians we can be. Plus, staying connected and energized helps prevent burn-out and compassion fatigue. 

If you started a community group of any kind, I would love to hear about it! Send me an email about it to krista@covellcare.com.

Incorporating Mental Recommendations in Your Professional Practice

Blog written by Madeline Gardner, Occupational Therapist, specializing in mental health.

Mental health affects all clients, and regardless of your discipline, it can impact the therapeutic process. Mental health is not simply a lack of mental illness, so it’s important to consider if your clients are mentally flourishing.

Truly listen to your clients. You may be able to provide recommendations that are within your scope of practice, or a referral may be necessary.

  • What are they saying that may be indicative of their mental well-being?
  • Do they speak of feeling lonely or isolated?
  • Lacking motivation?
  • Anxious about managing their health condition?
  • Are they having difficulty adjusting to life with a disability?

Some examples to address mental wellness include:

  1. Incorporating stress management or relaxation techniques
  2. Mindfulness practice
  3. Gratitude journaling
  4. Learning healthy coping mechanisms
  5. Or just providing a listening ear

If mental health seems to be a significant barrier or if you suspect an undiagnosed mental illness, a referral to a mental health professional (counselor/LCSW) or PCP is necessary. Also consider a referral to occupational therapy, as OTs can be a great resource to address daily routines, health promotion strategies, and activity modification to improve participation and enhance quality of life. 

*If you have concerns about the safety of your client, get help immediately. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number: 1-800-273-8255

Find helpful resources at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/help-someone-else/ about how and when to help others who may be going through a crisis.

Wellness & Mobile Practitioners

Guest blogger, Colorado State University Graduate and Covell Care Intern, Hailey Jungerman.

Being a mobile practitioner there are a number of health factors to keep in mind. You are constantly on the go, but not being active in the sense of physical activity requirements. There is also a high chance that you are eating in between appointments while in the car. On top of that you may also be stressing about making it to your next appointment on time if one runs over, or there is traffic. All of these, and I am sure you know, and many more are stressors. All these can also pose serious health problems. Chronic stress can cause issues such as high blood pressure, racing heart, weakened immune system, depression, headaches and so many more (Pietrangelo and Watson). They also state that “Chronic stress is also a factor in behaviors such a overeating or not eating enough, alcohol or drug abuse, and social withdrawal.”

Symptoms of chronic stress include (Pietrangelo and Watson):

  • irritability
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • headaches
  • Insomnia

If you are experiencing any of these, it is important to know how to relieve stress. Stress management techniques vary. Some can be more effective than others. It will depend on you and what you are comfortable with. Many of them have health benefits beyond just relieving stress.

Some evidence based stress management techniques include (Darviri and Varvogli):

  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation: leads to a decrease in stress and anxiety as well as decreased blood pressure, heart rate, and decreased headaches.
  • Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction: positive impact on mood, stress and anxiety reduction.
  • Guided Imagery: can help in stress reduction, pain management, preventing relapse of smoking, and treatment of depression.

These are just a few strategies that could help to reduce your stress. It is important to find something that you enjoy and that works for you. Listening to books on tape, podcasts, or light music while you are driving are great ways to relieve stress in between appointments. Finding time to workout, take your dog for a walk, or making time for hobbies are other great ways to find a work-life balance and reduce stress. Ask Covell Care about our employee stress management!


Works Cited :
Darviri, Christina and Liza Varvogli. “Stress Management Techniques: evidence-based procedures that reduce stress and promote health.” Health Science Journal (2011): 74-89.
Pietrangelo, Ann and Stephanie Watson “The Effects of Stress on Your Body.” 5 June Health Line. 30 April 2019.

Fort Collins Nurse/Author Releases New Book on Cancer Survivorship Care for Everyone

Working as an oncology nurse in the hospital, Alene Nitzky soon realized her skills and knowledge, as well as her co-workers’, were profoundly underutilized to meet the needs of patients undergoing cancer treatment. From the initial shock of a diagnosis, patients progressed to paralyzing fear around their mortality. Not knowing what to do, when, in what order, or who to rely on for help, patients missed key information that would have helped them go through the cancer patient experience with less distress and anxiety.

Afterward, patients were left to their own devices to recover, with little support or guidance, and few skills to help them restore their quality of life. Outside of the healthcare system, instead of taking a distant, clinical, big data approach, Nitzky describes meeting people where they were, in their homes, communities, and support groups, where she could listen to their everyday concerns- the ones they never had time to discuss in short medical appointments. Given time and active listening, they articulated their needs for practical skills in understanding health information, self-advocacy, and self-care that accommodates their lifestyles, and matches their values and preferences around quality of life.

In three, easy to understand, skill-based education programs aimed at closing gaps in information and understanding about cancer and survivors’ needs, the author calls for active prevention and preparation to reduce the trauma of a cancer diagnosis through C.A.R.E.: creativity, authenticity, resourcefulness, and empathy. Navigating the C will walk you through the steps you need to take to get your needs met in a system that so often fails cancer patients in finding the way back to themselves, and the possibility of emerging better than ever.

Everyone can expect to become empowered by reading this book by a passionate advocate for patients and healthcare workers: Patients, caregivers, and survivors will gain self-advocacy and self-care skills to have more control over their follow-up care experiences, and become more active and confident participants in their own healthcare. Ordinary citizens and those who have never had cancer will learn the simple steps they can take to reduce the trauma around an initial cancer diagnosis for themselves, or support their loved ones. Healthcare professionals will examine their own values around providing cancer treatment and survivorship care.

Finally, those on the fringes of clinical care- the decision-makers and administrators- will gain insight into what really happens to the end-users of cancer services and how their lives are impacted by their experiences in healthcare. Nitzky appeals for the importance of reducing the trauma of a cancer diagnosis, the intrinsic value of community programs, and smaller, individual approaches to cancer survivorship care, where big healthcare and big business miss the mark.

Navigating the C: A Nurse Charts the Course for Cancer Survivorship Care. By Alene Nitzky, Ph.D., RN, OCN. Blue Bayou Press, 2018. 216 pages. $19.95 paperback, $9.99 Kindle. Available on Amazon.

Navigating the C is available on Amazon:   https://a.co/ciTYFWi

Local Signing event at Elevation 5003 on January 28:   https://www.eventbrite.com/e/navigating-the-c-book-signing-meet-the-author-tickets-42151424044

February 12 at Raintree Athletic Club, and February 22 at Hope Lives! For more details, visit https://cancerharbors.com/events 

OT Celebrates 100 Years!

Occupational therapy celebrates an epic birthday this year—one hundred years! OT professionals have been providing treatment for clients using meaningful occupations to reach therapeutic goals for an entire century. At Covell Care, we are especially thankful for the pioneers of OT because our business is richly embedded with the philosophies and roots of this unique profession.
Occupational therapy is based on the theory that all of us wake up every day with the desire to interact in meaningful tasks (aka occupations) and we are the skilled professionals that help people maximize what they can do.
Did you know that a recent outcome study showed that OT was the only spending category that reduced hospital re-admissions for heart failure, pneumonia, and acute myocardial infarction. (Rogers, Bai, Lavin, & Anderson, 2016). That’s worth celebrating! 
We just received an email today from one of the Covell OT’s that one of his clients is now using his arm when he couldn’t move the shoulder at all when services began. He can even throw a ball now!
Another one of his clients improved so much in his abilities to manage his walker and safety issues that he can do housework and beat our OT in putt-putt golf!
One of my clients feared baking in her kitchen due to cognitive changes she has experienced because of multiple sclerosis. Guess what she did this week? Made a vanilla-apple-cream cake without making any mistakes.
These are the things that matter to our clients and we are the blessed therapists that can help them reach their goals. Think about your day and routine and what’s important to you. Anything from the mundane tasks like brushing your teeth or taking a shower to the special moments like taking your daughter to her first day of school or baking your famed Christmas cookies… what if you couldn’t do them? You would want someone to help you. That person is likely an OT.
Covell Care is often confused for a traditional home care agency because we provide so many of our treatments in the clients’ homes. But, we also provide services at the golf course, the grocery store, the city bus stop, local coffee shops, fast food restaurants. We provide services where people live because it matters SO much to the therapeutic process. We do this because when I established the business, I knew our clients needed to be seen wherever they lived, worked and played. Therefore, all of our services are available outside of a clinic setting. PT, SLP, counseling, massage, personal training, driving rehabilitation, care management. This is based on my training as an OT and understanding the critical role of being in your natural environment for rehabilitation.
It is so awesome and exciting to be part of a profession that continues to grow in research, treatment effectiveness and creativity. We are thrilled to be advancing the profession along with the thousands of OT professionals around the globe. Our innovative model has earned us recognition from the American Occupational Therapy Association and makes traditional healthcare companies wonder what category we fit in. OT is at our roots and we will continue celebrating and helping our clients live, work and play to the best of their abilities through context based, creative, sound treatment interventions.