Celebrating National OT Month, Meet Kimberlee Thomas at Southwest Florida Home Care

Author: Jonathan Marsh

This April, we're highlighting the incredible impact of occupational therapy. In this short video, we have a special guest, Kimberlee Thomas, a dedicated Occupational Therapist at Southwest Florida Home Care. Kimberlee's expertise helps our community members regain independence and thrive in their daily lives.

Join us in thanking Kimberlee for her commitment to enhancing health and wellness in our area. Her work is pivotal in ensuring that our community members can enjoy quality living, even amidst challenges.

Watch the video to learn more about the significant role of occupational therapy in home health care and the innovative approaches Kimberlee employs to support our community.

Thank you, Kimberlee, for everything you do for us! Your dedication is truly inspiring.

#OccupationalTherapyMonth #HomeHelpersHomeCare #CommunityHealth #SouthwestFloridaHomeCare


[Jonathan] Thank you for joining us today. We're celebrating National Occupational Therapy Month. Here at Home Helpers, we stress the importance of occupational therapy, especially for our clients who are returning home from a facility. Today I have with me Kimberlee Thomas from Southwest Florida Home Care, a skilled home health agency here in the Manatee County area. Thank you for joining us today, Kimberlee.

[Kimberlee] You're welcome. Thanks for having me. Thank you.

[Jonathan] Thank you. So if you can tell us a little bit about what occupational therapy is. Also, tell us about a misconception that you've heard about occupational therapy, and then tell us about how occupational therapy is in the context of home health.

[Kimberlee] Okay. I'll start out with the misconception and then I'll go and talk about all the good stuff that OT is. So a lot of people think that occupational therapy is only for those folks who have a job or are still in the workforce. But that is a misconception. Occupational therapy is when you are retired and you are no longer working. If you have fallen and broken your hip or if you have decreased endurance, you're having difficulty bathing yourself and dressing yourself. Occupational therapy can help you to become independent again. So your occupation when you are retired is being able to safely and successfully transfer to the shower, to the toilet, and up and down your front door stairs should you have them? So we like to help you make sure that grab bars are installed safely near the toilet, and shower near your front door. If you do have stairs, we offer education on properly placing your rolling walker next to your toilet or shower. There is not. There is really a safe way and an unsafe way to do your transfers. And we like to make sure that you're doing these transfers safely and successfully. If someone is having a problem simply putting on their shoes or socks, we can offer adaptive equipment. What, you know, how to purchase something like that? Say Amazon will always help you go the least expensive route because when you're retired, most people are on a fixed income.

So occupational therapy is what is ever most important to you achieve, whether it's being able to do your laundry, whether it's making a small meal for yourself, or doing small jobs around your house, making sure that you can wipe down the countertops, wash your dishes or load them into the dishwasher, etc. if you just have decreased endurance. But yet you can do all of these things, but you don't feel so safe doing them, so we'll give you some upper body exercises to do. We like to do a lot of things and standing, but if you truly need to sit and take a break, of course, that's okay. And we also help offer help to those folks with pain, whether they have a torn rotator cuff. We provide pain management. I have a portable ultrasound machine that I carry around in my trunk, and this is much different than an ultrasound that you go and have for diagnosing purposes that your physician writes a script for this occupational or excuse me, this ultrasound that I have still requires doctor's orders, but it is a modality that is used for pain. It's just a small handheld device. And what it does is it creates vasodilation, which means increased blood flow when you have increased blood flow. Hopefully, that will help to decrease the pain.

And so when you're in the home health setting, I see folks at a couple of different skilled and not necessarily skilled nursing facilities, but independent and assisted living facilities like Water's Edge and Discovery Village. And it's really important to maintain your independence if you are on the independent living side because there could be a point where you might need some help. If you would like to stay in your independent living side, we might recommend someone like Home Helpers to come in and help those individuals if they just need supervision or just a little bit of assistance so that they can remain in their independent living environment. But should there be a time when they can safely live without having any falls to move over to the assisted living side? Yet we would still come into the home, into their apartment at one of those facilities, and make sure that, again, they can transfer safely to the toilet, to their wheelchair, to their shower chair properly, using their grab bars so that they don't fall. And again, working on upper body strengthening, we might take little walks just to build our endurance. But one thing that I love about occupational therapy is that it's very broad. It's not just upper body exercises. It is truly about what the patient needs, what is ever most important to them. And then we work on those goals together to achieve the greatest outcome.

[Jonathan] So Kimberlee, can you tell me a little bit about how you all start cases at Southwest Florida Home Care that involve occupational therapy?

[Kimberlee] Yes, absolutely. So one of our nurses will first go out to the patient's home and assess them not only for O.T. but for physical therapy. Once the nurse feels that she believes that a patient needs either of those two disciplines, Angie, our evaluating therapist, she'll then go into the homes. She'll see how they do with dressing. She'll see how they do with their transfers and if they need assistance with bathing or if they have upper extremity weakness. So Angie goes in and she does the assessment show also assesses for any pain. This way I'll know when I get to the patient's home. Usually, one week later I'll know what goals she and the patient have set forth together. And this way I'll know what needs to be worked on.

[Jonathan] All right. Sounds good. Well, I want to thank you for joining us today. And I hope that our audience has found this conversation to be enlightening. And certainly, if you have occupational therapy needs at home, please. Make sure you reach out to Southwest Florida. Home Care. And we want to thank Kimberly as well as Southwest Florida Home Care for this opportunity. And until next time, everyone, take care. Thank you.

Southwest Florida Homecare is a local skilled home health agency serving the Greater Tampa Bay area. They offer patients a diverse array of home health services, such as skilled nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech therapy with a licensed staff of experts devoted to the quality care you deserve. To learn more, please visit their website or use the information on the screen to contact Southwest Florida Home Care directly.


Home Helpers of Bradenton is one of the region's leading home care franchises specializing in comprehensive services for seniors. Home Helpers' sole mission is to make life easier for clients and their families. Based in Bradenton, Florida, the company serves all of Manatee County, including the communities of Anna Maria, Bradenton, Bradenton Beach, Ellenton, Holmes Beach, Lakewood Ranch, Longboat Key, Palmetto, and Parrish. For more information or to request a free in-home care assessment, contact our office at (941) 499-5946 or visit our website at www.homehelpershomecare.com/bradenton


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