A Conversation with Katy Vidal, OTR/L, Director of Rehab
April is National Occupational Therapy Month, a perfect time to introduce you to Catholic Eldercare’s Occupational Therapy team and what they bring to their clients. We recently sat down with our Director of Rehab Therapy, Katy Vidal, to learn more. *
Q: What is Occupational Therapy (OT)?
A: Occupational therapy helps people do the things that they need or want to do following an injury or illness. It’s very personalized and focuses on an individual’s common activities of daily living and activities that give their lives meaning.
Q: How does OT differ from physical therapy (PT) in a transitional care unit or nursing home?
A: PT focuses on gross motor skills—walking, balance, climbing stairs, etc. It targets body mechanics, range of motion, and strengthening to facilitate movement.
OT focuses on an individual’s “daily occupations” and the fine motor and cognitive skills needed to perform the tasks that are most meaningful to them. Examples of daily occupations are dressing, showering, toileting, moving from place to place in one’s home, meal prep, and eating.
OT also focuses on the following:
- Functions a client wants to rebuild to resume enjoyable pastimes such as reading, crafting, caring for houseplants, or playing cards.
- The current pandemic has affected the way people carry out their daily occupations. OT covers the need for learning how to access helpful resources in the community, how to communicate in new ways, and teaches skills that will help clients cope with social isolation and maintain a good sense of wellbeing.
- Mental health is addressed during OT through meditation, relaxation techniques, therapeutic listening, and referral to obtain psychological support if needed.
- Education is provided regarding fall prevention and energy conservation.
Q: What kind of training does one need to be licensed in OT?
A: First a person must obtain a bachelor’s degree in a related field such as biology, psychology, or therapeutic recreation. Following that they must successfully complete a master’s degree program in OT. Beginning in 2027, the educational requirements will increase to completion of a doctorate degree!
To become an Occupational Therapy Assistant, one must successfully complete an OT associate’s degree program. Beginning in 2027, successful completion of a bachelor’s degree will be required.
After satisfying the education requirements, all occupational therapists and therapist assistants become certified by passing a National Board for Certification for Occupational Therapy exam. Yearly continuing education is required to maintain a license.
Q: Who makes up the occupational therapy team at Catholic Eldercare?
A: We have two occupational therapists (Katy and Kate), one occupational therapy assistant (Autumn), one rehab aid/OT assistant (Ruth), and float staff when caseload is high.
Q: Is Catholic Eldercare’s occupational therapy available to people other than those staying in the transitional care unit?
A: Yes, we provide therapy for residents living at Albert J Hofstede Care Center. We provide home health therapy to people living at Wyndris, MainStreet Lodge, and RiverVillage. We also offer outpatient therapy to anyone living outside the Catholic Eldercare community.
If you’d like to learn more about our occupational therapy services including how you or a loved one can access therapy through Catholic Eldercare, go to https://www.catholiceldercare.org/senior-services/outpatient-senior-therapy-minneapolis/ or call Katy at 612-362-2416.
*Portions of this interview were edited for space and clarity.