The items recommended here are for both OTRs and COTAs. You can certainly perform home health treatment without props and tools, however, you may find these recommendations helpful while in the field to make your day smoother or to assist you in quality patient care. Many of these items come in handy when patients need visual examples, or when you prefer to provide hands-on equipment instruction and education to patients.
To stay organized, you can carry these items in a bin in your car, as recommended in the Home Health Occupational Therapy book. Keep in mind that although all of these items can be found on Amazon.com, you can also find some of these items at Walmart, Target, or discount stores, such as Dollar Tree.
A HIP KIT is the equivalent of OT home health equipment 101. A hip kit provides all the tools needed for basic dressing and bathing ADLs for patients with difficulty reaching, trunk flexion limitations, recent hip or back surgeries or decreased balance and core strength. It generally includes a reacher, shoe horn, long-handled sponge, and a sock assist. Some even include stretch shoe-laces and a leg lifter. Some of the tools in the hip kit also make great equipment for therapeutic activities.
A BALANCE PAD can be used for exercise or activities for patients with impaired balance. Some basic ideas include grading the activity or challenge by instructing patients to step on and off the pad, stand and place one foot on the pad, or perform an activity while standing with one or both feet on the pad. The ideas are endless.
CONES are another handy prop for balance activities. Some simple ideas include weaving in and out, stepping over cones, obstacle courses, tapping each cone with the ball of the foot, and bending and reaching to pick up cones. Cones are not just for balance, they can also be used for gross motor coordination, hand-eye/visual-motor coordination, visual field scanning, and active range of motion activities, to name a few.
For patients with motor deficits or grip dysfunction, BUILT UP FOAM HANDLES work well for writing, self-feeding and grooming (adding to a toothbrush) while BUILT UP HANDLE UTENSILS work well for self-feeding.
For grip or pinch strengthening, THERAPUTTY works well and is quite portable. Having a patient retrieve small items placed in the putty, such as beads or pennies, is a great exercise for extrinsic and intrinsic muscle strength.
Strengthening and therapeutic exercise is just as important as ADL training. RESISTANCE BANDS offer various levels of graded resistance and are easy to carry in your medical bag. For infection control, be sure to clean your bands after each patient use or leave the used band in the patient’s home. Other options for strengthening include HAND WEIGHTS and WRIST WEIGHTS. Wrist weights also work well for patients with grip impairments or for reaching activities or endurance training.
Many patients are unable to safely perform transfers and would benefit from a SLIDING BOARD. This is one item that is better explained with hands-on training as opposed to verbal instruction and pictures. Agencies often underestimate the importance of having a demo sliding board on-hand so you may find it beneficial to have your own for quality patient care. Be sure to label it by writing your name on it.
Dycem may be cost prohibitive, particularly for independent contractor therapists. An excellent alternative is SHELF LINER. It can be used to prevent slipping or sliding during transfers, to hold items on a rollator seat or to prevent a plate or cup from spills and messes during feeding. It’s versatile and a highly recommended home health staple. It’s also low-cost and easily accessible. It can often be found for $1 at any dollar store.
The GAIT BELT is probably the most important piece of equipment you will carry. It is a critical safety tool that reduces the risk of patient falls and reduces the risk of injury to the therapist.
A lightweight, compact, FOLDABLE STOOL is a convenient option for when you need a place to sit or rest your bag in a patient’s home that has less than ideal hygiene.