April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month. This month we are shining a spotlight on some of the great work happening in our Parkinson's Rehab program at HDS!
Andrea has been with HDS since 2019 and is currently working part time in both the Outpatient Neurology and Parkinson’s programs.
Although Andrea has only been at HDS since 2019, she has been practicing Occupational Therapy (OT) for almost 25 years. She received an undergraduate degree in Psychology, but wanted to continue her education in healthcare. She discovered OT while volunteering at Homewood Hospital in Guelph and then again at HDS, prior to 2005, when it was formally known as Niagara Rehab.
“I found it so empowering to work with patients and provide effective therapeutic activity that was meaningful to them and related to their activities of daily living (ADLs)," says Andrea.
Although she is biased, if you ask Andrea, she believes she has the best job in the world. Being an Occupational Therapist allows her to work on so many different aspects of a patient’s life and she is grateful for that.
“I love being a part of an interdisciplinary team at HDS, working alongside so many knowledgeable colleagues that I can learn from allows me to further help my patients,” says Andrea.
As a valued member of her patient's therapy team, she does cognitive evaluations identifying strengths and challenges, whole body activities to strengthen and keep people safe and moving in their environments, and addressing the psychosocial components that impact on how a person presents.
“I particularly love identifying what is important to each patient in that moment to create a meaningful treatment plan," says Andrea. “Occupational Therapy is a client centered practice where I work with my patients to collaboratively develop goals that are valuable to them and that’s where I see the greatest success.”
Occupational Therapists are skilled and regulated clinicians who can get maximal therapeutic outcomes with everyday activities. Andrea laughs when she says, “at times, we may appear to be just cooking in the kitchen with our patients, but there is so much more going on than that!” Occupational Therapists understand the importance of biomechanics, activity analysis, behavior, environment and how all of these work together to form a safe and healthy lifestyle.
As an OT, Andrea has worked in a wide variety of therapeutic health care settings among all ages and diagnostics – pediatrics, school health support, private practice, acute medicine, EMS, Mental Health and now, rehabilitation.
Are you going into Occupational Therapy? If so, Andrea advises:
“Listen, watch and be patient - your patients, their families and supports know themselves better than anyone. Become an active interdisciplinary team player and learn various roles. As an OT you can provide valuable support. Work with your patients to identify what they want out of your interaction and you will find success. Continue life long learning and remember to ALWAYS have fun with your patients!”
Andrea shares five children with her partner, between the ages of 17-24, and as a blended family for the last 15 years, she has been kept busy! When asked what her biggest interest is, it is their kids.
“As a family, we have been fortunate to travel to Florida many times and visit all the fun things there," says Andrea. As a family, they are avid music and architecture lovers, and find joy in many other things, including hiking, walking, snowboarding, basketball, soccer, gymnastics, art and video games, but their favourite time is spent with their beautiful Bernadoodle, Finley.
Andrea and her family value family traditions and gathering to celebrate the various holidays and birthdays together. “No birthday is complete without the traditional ice cream cake; no Christmas is complete without all seven of us gathering early to open stockings together; no Thanksgiving is complete without preparing dinner and sitting all together to celebrate and give thanks for all we have.”
Thank you Andrea for your dedication to our neuro and Parkinson's patients at HDS - you are improving each patient's quality of life, every single day!