Occupational Therapy Empowering Residents

Occupational Therapy (OT) has been an integral part of Peter & Paul Community Services for decades. It is a vital component in helping our clients end their homelessness and then sustain their newfound independence. Starting in September, our agency’s current Occupational Therapist Clare Lassiter will begin working for clients across all our programs.

We are implementing a new service model that we hope will allow us to hire more highly skilled professionals. By spreading the cost of salaries for positions like OTs across our programs, we can better afford fair compensation. At the same time, this model will allow us to better serve clients who could most benefit from therapies, teaching techniques, assessments, or interventions that are otherwise inaccessible to them.

Occupational therapy and case management work together to provide a comprehensive approach to supporting clients. While there is overlap between the two roles, the OT focuses more on the daily living skills a client needs to succeed. For example, an OT may write a script for a client before he makes a phone call about a job or an apartment for rent so the client feels comfortable with what questions to ask and what to say. If a client needs to learn a new bus route to work, an OT will wait at the bus stop and ride the bus with the client to help them learn all aspects of getting to and from their job.

Lassiter is committed to working with clients on the goals that are most important to them. To that end, Lassiter and Raquel Rathwell, an OT doctoral student from the College of St. Mary, conducted a focus group with clients who have used our OT services. PPCS learned a lot about what makes our clients feel proud, supported and closer to their future goals.

  • Clare helped me get my social security card, state ID, Metro bus card and my library card. I was really proud of myself for being able to do all that. It seems impossible to do it by yourself.

  • I am using strategies I learned from Clare when I deal with my current roommates. They woke me up and I remembered what Clare and Raquel said about dealing with conflict. Working two jobs, finding an apartment, getting a car…learning what triggers me and know how to walk away. I’m learning coping skills.

  • I learned a lot of tools. I learned how to maintain my apartment and my house once I move out. I learned how to set up a bank account. Exercise group was my favorite. I felt so good after working out. I was able to sleep well.

Lassiter will continue to work with agency clients, helping them build on their success. The plan is for her to continue to mentor OT students in the future who will in turn support our clients.

I’m excited about the future of the OT program at PPCS and hopeful about our ability to partner with staff and clients to build trust and success. Every client deserves to create and participate in a life that they want for themselves.