Implementing practice change for stroke teams, including occupational therapists

Faculty of Health Sciences
Rehabilitation Sciences

By the School of Rehabilitation Sciences

Marie Dominique Antoine - Communication, Faculty of Health Sciences

World OT day banner + sauve shenk
Since 2010, October 27 has been Occupational Therapy Day. It’s an opportunity to increase the profession’s visibility and highlight the work of researchers in the field.

Occupational therapy is a regulated health-care profession dedicated to helping individuals, families and communities participate in their occupations — what they do, want to do or need to do. Examples of occupations include getting dressed in the morning, driving a car, volunteering at a local community garden or finding community resources to help with housekeeping.  

Katrine Sauvé-Schenk has been a registered occupational therapist since 2003 and is an assistant professor at the School of Rehabilitation Sciences. Her research aims to understand the influence of social determinants of health on rehabilitation and participation and to find solutions to reduce related health inequities. She focuses on the determinants of housing, income and language.

Sauvé-Schenk’s recent projects aim to understand the participation challenges of people who have experienced a stroke and live in a low-income situation, and how they’re related to finding and accessing social services and community resources.  

Most recently, Sauvé-Schenk explored the perspectives of the professionals working on stroke teams. Several professionals, including occupational therapists, participated in a study investigating usual care practices, including how teams and professionals supported access to services and resources, particularly for people with stroke who also have financial concerns.

The professionals on these stroke teams described many system challenges that limited their ability to provide more support, including a lack of time and resources. They recommended possible ways to adapt their roles and responsibilities to better support low-income stroke survivors across the continuum of care.

The insights gained from this project could serve as an essential first step in implementing practice change for stroke teams, including occupational therapists. 

Sauvé-Schenk previously worked on understanding the difficulties from the perspective of those who experienced a stroke and their care partners.

Occupational therapists work with people from all age groups and across the lifespan. They work in many settings, including where people reside, such as their private homes or group homes, in the community, in institutions, such as hospitals or rehabilitation centres, and in industry and businesses, such as insurance companies.  

Sauvé-Schenk offers professional these recommendations to better support client access to social services and resources: 

  • Consider the impact of income on participation. 

  • Provide direct assistance with access to social support and community resources. 

  • Advocate for changes at the system level.  

No matter their financial situation, individuals who have experienced a stroke and their care partners often have difficulties finding and accessing social services and community resources. The Heart and Stroke Foundation Canada and the Champlain Regional Stroke Network can be helpful.