Home, what does it mean to you?

Home (ˈhōm) has many definitions: one’s place of residence; the social unit formed by a family living together a familiar or usual setting; congenial environment; the focus of one’s domestic attention; or a place of origin.

I pulled into my home driveway at 1:30 am today, MixMas on the radio, and even though it was pouring rain, I still had a smile on my face.  

There is a wreath on the door, after all.

Home for the holidays never gets old.

At this hour, my only welcome comes from Peanut, our dachshund, who cheerfully sideways hops down the stairs to greet me.

Following a long day of travel arriving to the smell of fresh pine, opening cards from friends and family, and seeing what new creations the kids have made at school can’t help but warm my spirits.

We all have different traditions, memories and experiences that impact our love for the holiday season. 

We should also consider what the holiday season means for our patients, those we serve.

What are their traditions? What skills may they need to learn in order to safely participate in meaningful family visits? 

Perhaps your patients’ traditions include wrapping presents, decorating a tree or lighting the menorah.

Maybe they will have the opportunity to hold a new grandchild or spend time preparing and eating a special meal with loved ones.

More importantly, consider the following targets and how rehab teams can integrate these areas into skilled therapy seasons.

Physical Therapy

  • Perform car transfers with contact guard assist (CGA) of caregiver in order to attend holiday celebration at family member’s home.
  • Improve stand-pivot transfer from wheelchair to dining room chair to CGA with caregiver in order to sit with family for holiday meal.
  • Improve gait with single-point cane to supervision for 30 feet in order to hand out gifts to family members.

 Occupational Therapy

  • Improve bilateral coordination to fair to wrap gifts with modified independent.
  • Improve fine motor coordination to good to don jewelry for a holiday party.
  • Complete upper body dressing with button-up shirt with modified independent in order to prep for family visit.
  • Complete lower body dressing task with dress pants with CGA in order to prep for family visit.
  • Sequence 5/5 steps of holiday baking activity with supervision to participate in holiday meal.

 Speech Therapy 

  • Improve memory to recall family/extended family members’ names with key facts about each person’s life happenings for increased socialization and communication effectiveness.
  • Improve swallowing to enjoy holiday meals without fear of embarrassing choking episodes. 
  • Demonstrate independent return demonstration by family/ caregiver on ways to modify foods to enjoy holiday meal.

In closing, let us use this special time of year to make our patients feel cared for, loved and truly home for the holidays.

Renee Kinder, MS, CCC-SLP, RAC-CT, is Executive Vice President of Clinical Services for Broad River Rehab and a 2019 APEX Award of Excellence winner in the Writing–Regular Departments & Columns category. Additionally, she serves as Gerontology Professional Development Manager for the American Speech Language Hearing Association’s (ASHA) gerontology special interest group, is a member of the University of Kentucky College of Medicine community faculty and is an advisor to the American Medical Association’s Current Procedural Terminology CPT® Editorial Panel. She can be reached at [email protected].

The opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News guest submissions are the author’s and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News or its editors.