Shelly Mesure, MS, OTR/L

Once upon a time, in a faraway land, physical, occupational and speech therapy used to provide group therapy and often co-treat. This was a totally different time and place for the history of rehabilitation, where the regulations allowed up to four (not required to be four) in a group, and we could allocate up to 25% of total treatment time.

Therefore, it was very common practice for a rehab department to have a “group day” once a week and find fun activities to co-treat these events.

Now, moving forward to modern day, group treatment is rarely utilized. It is not prohibited by the regulations, but it has become extremely regulated. So much so that most rehab departments have chosen to primarily focus on providing one-to-one treatment. Unfortunately, many of those group activities also disappeared as a result in the regulation changes.

A popular group treatment that promoted various areas of PT, OT and SLP treatment goals was meal planning and cooking. I feel that we should revisit many of our older treatment plans and find current and exciting new ways to offer these enjoyable sessions. Plus, I love to eat. However, I’m not talking about making cookies everyday with your patients.

How well do you know your patients? Understanding their interests, hobbies, and lifestyles are critical in developing treatment goals and motivating a patient.

Many patients love to cook, but what is it about cooking that they love? Personally, I love to learn about ingredients. How they interact to create taste, the texture and flavors that come together. I love to experiment with cooking, but I am better at eating than cooking. Another nickname for myself would be “a foodie.”

Next time you are thinking about meal prep, cooking or household management type of activities, see if your patient enjoys cooking and meal planning. It could turn into an excellent way to connect with your patient and his or her goals, as well as a way to define the therapeutic components for cognition, sensory, coordination, safety and so on.

Shelly Mesure (“measure”), MS, OTR/L, is the senior vice president of Orchestrall Rehab Solutions and owner of A Mesured Solution Inc., a rehabilitation management consultancy with clients nationwide. A former corporate and program director for major long-term care providers, she is a veteran speaker and writer on therapy and reimbursement issues.