Thursday, 12 July 2018

CAOT-BC Announcement

It is with sadness and gratitude that CAOT-BC announces Giovanna Boniface’s departure as Managing Director of CAOT-BC and National Director of Professional Affairs, effective July 12, 2018.

Since 2012, Giovanna has played a critical role in the growth and success of CAOT-BC, and the development of the chapter model and the National Director of Professional Affairs portfolio. Under Giovanna’s leadership, CAOT-BC has become a well respected, influential and prominent allied health organization in BC.

CAOT thanks Giovanna for her 6.5 years of dedicated service and significant accomplishments. She will be missed by staff, members, stakeholders and community partners. We wish her all the best in her future endeavours. Sarah Charles, CAOT-BC Service Coordinator, will serve as the main point of contact during the transition to a new Managing Director,

Recruitment for the CAOT-BC Managing Director role is underway, with a closing date of July 31, 2018.

If you have any questions or concerns during this transition process, please contact Janet Craik, CAOT Executive Director,


Monday, 9 July 2018

CAOT-BC Networking & Education Day

Register today! CAOT-BC is offering another Networking & Education Day in 2018 in Vancouver. 

When: September 28, 2018
Motion Specialties, 101 – 8255 North Fraser Way, Burnaby, BC
Agenda and more information
Can't attend in person? Check out the afternoon sessions remotely via webinar!

This exciting day will include:

Here comes another one: Navigating life’s transitions using our occupational perspectives
Katie Bunting
Lecturer, UBC OSOT

Transitions are universal and their impacts can be significant. As occupational therapists, we are often attuned to the transitions our clients are facing and how best to enable their successful navigation through these transitions. However, it is equally important that we acknowledge the many transitions we face as occupational therapists and know how best to successfully move through these ourselves. Katie will take what she has learned from the literature and her research with Dr. Susan Forwell and UBC MOT students to share understandings of the universal and layered experiences of transitions. Through considering life transitions using an occupational perspective, she will facilitate your application of learnings to your own personal and professional life transition experiences.

In person: CAOT-BC Member $99; Student Member $49; Non-Member $149
Webinar (1:30-3:30pm only): CAOT-BC Member $25; Non-member $50  


Friday, 6 July 2018

Deadline Approaching: CAOT-BC Advisory Committee

Application deadline is approaching for the 2018-2020 CAOT-BC Advisory Committee. 

CAOT-BC is looking for candidates with initiative, creativity, and a keen desire to continue the work of the BC chapter of CAOT. Advisory committee participation includes:
  1. Attending meetings of the Advisory Committee (6 per year, webinar, teleconference and/or in person);
  2. Liaising with occupational therapists in British Columbia to obtain and share information as required for decision-making;
  3. Providing input to address strategic priorities for the British Columbia chapter of CAOT;
  4. Assisting with communication of information regarding the British Columbia chapter of CAOT;
This position is a 2-year term beginning October 1, 2018. 

Learn more

If you are interested in participating, please submit a curriculum vitae along with a 1-page letter of interest to

Application deadline: July 31, 2018 


Thursday, 5 July 2018

Volunteer in India in 2019

An exciting opportunity to travel to India and make a genuine, sustainable difference in the lives of people with disability in rural India.

Where: Amar Seva Sangam (ASSA), located in the rural town of Ayikudy, Tamil Nadu, is an organization for people with disabilities run by people with disabilities offering a range of services for adults and children. 
Placement is facilitated by registered Canadian charity Handi-Care Intl.

When: January - December 2019

Job Description:
  • ASSA regularly hosts OT and PT students from North American universities (UBC, Toronto, Ottawa, McGill, Western, Queens, Manitoba, McMaster, Sherbrooke, Dalhousie, Colorado) for clinical fieldwork placements.
  • Interested applicants will be accompanied by and supervise 2-4 OT/ PT students from North America.
  • Provide bedside mentorship and teaching to the 12 PTs, 2 OTs and 2 speech therapists working at ASSA with the goal of exchanging knowledge. Conduct seminars/workshops for the PTs, OTs and speech therapists.
  • Direct client care will occur alongside mentorship and teaching.
  • Area of focus can be tailored towards applicant’s experience/interest.

More details and application instructions here.


Tuesday, 3 July 2018

CAOT Conference Awards Ceremony: BC Highlights

The Awards Ceremony at CAOT Conference in Vancouver included a number of exciting announcements for the BC occupational therapy community.

CAOT-BC is happy to announce that the 2018 Outstanding Occupational Therapist of the Year Award recipient is Stephen Epp! Stephen will be giving a speech at the cOnnecT Day in October, stay tuned for more details.

Lori Cyr and Tal Jarus received the CAOT Fellowship Award.

The Fieldwork Educator Award recipient was Holly Hurgesheimer.

As part of the ceremony, incoming CAOT President Catherine Backman received the CAOT pin from Nicola McNaughton.

Dr. Susan Forwell was awarded the Muriel Driver Memorial Lectureship to be delivered at the 2019 CAOT Conference in Niagara Falls.

In addition, CAOT-BC announced the creation of the Dianna Mah-Jones Memorial Grant for Innovation, established in memory of Dianna Mah-Jones, who was a creative and tireless advocate and activist for innovation and excellence in client care. This is an annual grant of up to $500 with the purpose of supporting the BC occupational therapy community in best practice and innovation in direct client care. The grant can be used towards registration fees to any course, workshop, conference, or other educational session that is relevant to the applicant’s area of practice. Applications will be accepted annually between February 15 and May 31.


Friday, 29 June 2018

A successful CAOT Conference in Vancouver

With over 700 delegates, the CAOT Conference in Vancouver, BC was a huge success! 

Highlights include: 

An opening ceremony performance by Champagne Quartet and blessings from Elder Roberta Price.

Introduction of the Conference co-convenors and host committee.

The trade show opening featuring local talent provided by Seycove High School, the Grade 9 jazz combo.

ICBC trade show booth and presentation from Senior Director Vito Albanese.

10 Community Partner Tables in attendance including: Tourism Whistler, Rick Hansen Foundation, BC Association for Individualized Technology and Supports for People with Disabilities, BC Wheelchair Sports Association/BC Wheelchair Basketball Society, Brain Injury Canada/Vancouver Brain Injury Association, Pain BC, Neil Squire Society, CanAssist, Disability Alliance BC/ Plan Institute and The Arthritis Society.

Six in person CAOT-BC Practice Network Meetings. 

…Along with many engaging presentations, posters, PIFs, symposiums, and social activities!

A big thank you to the host committee and many volunteers who made this event possible.

Stay tuned for BC highlights from the Awards Ceremony!


Thursday, 28 June 2018

Evidence for your Practice: Supported Discharge Teams for older people in hospital acute care

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Article for Review: Parsons, M., Parsons, J., Rouse, P., Pillai, A., Mathieson, S., Parsons, R., Smith, C., Kenealy, T. (2017). Supported Discharge Teams for older people in hospital acute care: a randomised controlled trial. Age and Aging. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afx169
Population: Individuals aged 65+ who did not require ongoing acute hospital-based treatment, had the potential for partial or complete recovery with suitable home rehabilitation for 6 weeks and were deemed unlikely to recuperate on their own.

Intervention: This RCT compared an early Supported Discharge Team, START (Supported Transfer & Accelerated Rehabilitation Team), to usual care in New Zealand. The SMART service consists of healthcare assistants, registered nurses, and allied health practitioners (physiotherapy and occupational therapy). Home-based functional rehabilitation (e.g. progressively increasing walking distance, sit-to-stands, lying-in-bed to standing, carrying groceries home from shops and putting away in cupboards) was delivered up to four times a day, 7 days a week, for up to 6 weeks. Patients are supported to develop meaningful distal goals which are reinterpreted into a therapy ladder to support development of a care-plan utilising functional rehabilitation principles.
Key findingsSupported Discharge Teams that include occupational therapy can:
  • Support older people with a variety of conditions to be discharged earlier from hospital
  • Can reduce risk of readmission to hospital for older people
  • Have an important role to play in increasing bed capacity of hospitals

Bottom line for OT: Occupational therapists have the skills to provide the intervention outlined in this article. This article provides further evidence that occupational therapy services can reduce hospital readmission and save money.
Post by Catherine Lloyd, fieldwork student with CAOT-BC. 

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

cOnnecT with Michael Coss

Michael Coss is a brain injury survivor, recipient of the 2012 Courage to Come Back award, and author of The Courage to Come Back: Triumph Over TBI - A Story of Hope.

Describe your experience with occupational therapy. Has there been anything unique and/or different about this experience as compared to your experience with other health care professionals?
My experience with occupational therapy has been very rewarding and has allowed me to become more independent to one day becoming semi-independent. Right now, I live in a 24-hour care home, but [in the future] I see myself living semi-independently and then fully independent. My hat goes off to my OT as she has taught me all of the skills on how to work towards [my goals], whether it be cooking, making my bed, or helping with my equipment needs. Now I work with my OT once a quarter working on cognitive skills, like budgeting, meal planning, and preparation. OT has been different because it teaches me the skills to be independent with my daily life.

Are there aspects of occupational therapy that have been important for you in your recovery?
Almost everything my OT has taught me or worked with me has been extremely important for my recovery and independence, for my confidence, and for me to go further as a human being. But if I had to pick one thing, it would be my cognitive skills.

What has been the most important thing occupational therapy has helped you do?
OT has given me the confidence to once again be independent. I am not at that goal yet, but I’m working towards it. It will happen one day, and she is helping me [to develop] the skills to work towards that goal and venture outside my comfort zone.

Has your experience with occupational therapy surprised you in any way? If so, please describe.
My experience with my OT has been nothing but a great one. I’m quite impressed with the vastness of [the occupational therapy scope] which includes, self-care, budgeting, cooking skills, transportation, and future goals moving forward. Nothing has thrown me any curve balls, but it has surprised me by the way that [occupational therapy] has taught me all the skills to one day [become] fully independent. After my injury in 2006 [the] doctors said I would never be able to speak, eat, or walk again. [But] my OT has built my confidence and allowed me to do more things for myself like dress, to walk, to cook, and to do all of the skills required to be independent. [For example] now I am in charge of my own budgeting. My OT has set me up with a budgeting template to track all of my weekly expenses so that allows me to live within my means.

As a health-care user, what is something that you want health care professionals to know about you?
If I had to say one thing about myself, it would be that anything is possible when you believe and that there is light at the end of tunnel. [What] I would say to everyone is many thanks for helping me achieve new heights in my recovery, I am very grateful. [As well as] share my story of recovery to give hope and inspiration to others.

What would be your advice to someone starting their recovery journey?
My advice to anyone just starting their journey of recovery is that it’s not going to be an easy process. It is going to be a long and hard battle. Like now, I am 12 years post injury and I continue to make progress to this day. It is small progress, but it is still progress. I would [also] say that anything is possible when you believe. When you set your mind to achieving certain goals you [envision] yourself doing things. For example, when I go to bed at night I envision myself walking with each of my children to the park hand-in-hand. It’s not going to be an easy process, but it’s an achievable process.

What has been your biggest motivator through your recovery process?
My biggest motivators have been my two children as they give me joy, [and a] purpose to fight for everything, step by step, inch by inch, breath by breath. When I wake up in the morning, everything I do is because of them. But also, my parents. My father was the one who did hours of research to discover all of the various alternative therapies that have allowed me to come out of my coma and continue to make progress to this day.

What is your personal philosophy?
Hard work really pays off.

What do you do in your spare time?
Most of my day is spent doing rehab activities. But in my spare time I go on my computer to touch base with friends and family members through email or Facebook. I visit my children once a week for dinner to see how their week was, watch my children play sports, take them out for a bite to eat, attend their school plays. Although I am still very involved with my rehab, I am still as involved in their lives as much as I can be. 

Interview by Meredith Blinkhorn, fieldwork student with CAOT-BC.


Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Share your ideas on a "Canadian Research and Knowledge Translation Agenda on Suicide"

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The Canadian research and knowledge translation agenda under development is intended to:

  • Identify the priorities of a wide range of stakeholders in the areas of suicide-related research and knowledge translation.
  • Inform future research and knowledge translation activities that increase our understanding of suicide, and support the practical use of knowledge in suicide prevention policy and practice.

This is your chance to contribute!

The consultation platform includes a questionnaire and idea tools. The questionnaire gives you the opportunity to communicate your priorities for knowledge needs and further prioritize the themes identified at six in person stakeholder dialogues hosted by the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Mental Health Commission of Canada across the country. The questionnaire should take approximately 20 minutes to complete. 

Through the idea tool, you also can share ideas on your most important research question and preferred communication methods. Even if you have already participated in one of the in person stakeholder dialogues, you are welcome to provide more input here. 

This questionnaire and the idea tools will close on July 5, 2018.

Access the consultation platform here: 


Monday, 25 June 2018

CAOT-BC at North Shore Foundry

Earlier this year, CAOT-BC had the privilege of receiving a tour of the new North Shore Foundry site as well as the opportunity to connect with Donna Fullerton, occupational therapist at North Shore Foundry.

Foundry is a provincial initiative to develop one-stop services for young people aged 12-24. Seven centres are currently open (Vancouver Granville, North Vancouver, Kelowna, Victoria, Campbell River, Abbotsford, Prince George), with four new centres approved and scheduled to open in 2018-19. Foundry involves over 120 partnerships across the province of BC. Each Foundry centre is operated by a lead agency that brings together local partners, service providers, young people and caregivers. Foundry’s online platform,, is powered by BC Children’s Hospital. Foundry provides safe, non-judgmental care, information and resources, and work to reach young people earlier – before health challenges become problematic. Foundry brings health and social services together in a single place to make it easier for young people to find the care, connection and support they need. Foundry is committed to working with our partners to change lives, communities and our systems, because young people are our future.

- Foundry Research Lead, Skye Barbic PhD, Reg. OT (BC)

What is the occupational therapy role at the North Shore Foundry?

To simplify, the occupational therapist (OT) role has three main parts. The first part is OT and Psychosocial Rehabilitation Program coordination. I supervise a full-time rehabilitation assistant (RA), a volunteer, and two peer support workers (PSWs) who recently have been added under the occupational therapy psychosocial rehab umbrella. We also have a Youth Care Worker who works partly under this umbrella. Because we have all of this staff, a lot of my role is coordination and program development of different group programming that is based on the needs of clients and families. The support staff runmuch of the programming, but there is so much coordination that goes into it - things like intake and screening clients, seeing if there are any risk factors, seeing how we can best support them, helping the RA with things that come up, managing waitlists and developing further programming to help clients reach their functional goals. I didn’t realize that so much of my day would be dedicated to coordination, but it makes sense and means we can offer so many different groups and programs for clients across the broad spectrum of youth that we see come through the doors of Foundry. These groups are appealing to youth because they provide opportunities to participate in activities and build skills in natural environments. From an OT perspective, we know that the best skill development happens in the actual environments where the client is going to use those skills. For example, if you want to feel more comfortable with peers at school, developing social skills by engaging with peers in the supported youth lounge is likely going to be more helpful than going to a lecture-style group on assertiveness training that doesn't involve youth actually practicing skills in real life contexts. It may look like clients are just coming in to do some cooking and have fun, when they’re actually developing independent living skills, social skills, time management skills, building routines and structure, becoming more behaviorally activated and developing tolerance for gradual return to work or school. 

Another part of my role is one-to-one occupational therapy service. I get referrals from both within Foundry as well as from the larger North Shore Community. I see my individual clients both at Foundry, as well as outreach – homes, schools, and the community. I work with clients usually from 16-24 years old and have some type of functional barrier(s). Aside from functional assessment, I also support moving forward with goals in life skills, education or employment, and leisure or wellness.  I’ve been trying to keep service short term and goal-based but with the increasing demand, only working 4 days per week and individual service being just part of my role, it is difficult to avoid a waitlist.

The third part of my role is actually running OT group programming. The Foundry model is about connecting and partnering with the community. I’ve been able to partner with a variety of agencies to run groups with. For example, I have and will be running more groups with the OTs from HOpe centre, as well as other non profit agencies. This fall I will be running the Youth Mindfulness Group partnered with HOpe and YMCA. I will also be running a group based on “interpersonal and social rhythms therapy” this fall. There are some other projects I’ve worked on this year and others I am currently working on too. It’s been a pretty great experience to build this role from the ground up, meeting with youth and families to see what the needs of the community are and then designing services based on those needs. I would say that building partnerships with agencies on the North Shore has been fairly easy. The North Shore is a pretty community-oriented area and people overall are excited about youth and mental health/addictions and want to get involved.

How do you see the occupational therapy role expanding within the Foundry program?

Eventually I would like to more fully develop the supported employment and education role, including programming. Although I do some on an individual basis, I know from experience that it is difficult to do employment and education off the side of your desk and really should be the full focus of an OT job rather than splitting with psychosocial rehabilitation and coordination. There is research for the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) model for multibarriered youth so I would love to expand that under the OT umbrella at Foundry North Shore. Other Foundry sites (Granville) have an OT specifically for employment and education and this is my “dream vision” for North Shore as well.

Now that I’ve started supervision of Peer Support Workers (PSW) and helped make the connection that PSW fell under the OT role, I'd really like to get more of a peer component to all aspects of the programming here. From a recovery perspective, it would be great to have peers involved in more of the services at every level so they’re not just at the drop-in clinic and our services are offered by people who have been there at some point. One of the core principles of recovery and psychosocial rehab is ‘least amount of professional support’ as possible. The lived experience is a powerful message of hope and a great fit with youth and young adults. I also think community building and increasing the sense of connection and community in youth is such an important piece of recovery, and a peer is going to be a lot more able to do this with a group of youth than I am. There are a lot of things that fall under the occupational therapy umbrella that don’t need to be done by an OT. A lot of the interventions I can design and plan and then get peers involved in the delivery. As much as we talk the talk, I think truly incorporating peers within all aspects of service delivery still has so much room to grow. 

I don’t have the capacity right now, but at some point, I would love to see occupational therapy being offered in single visit, drop-in basis as part of the drop-in clinic. I think this role for OT is still in it’s infancy across the system, particularly the mental health system, but I love the idea of low barrier, easy access to service for youth in terms of prevention of functional difficulties.  I’m really trying to further develop the OT role at Foundry so that people better understand and want occupational therapy. Not very many youth walk in and say they want to see an OT. Occupational therapy is brand new to not only Foundry, but also to Child & Youth Mental Health on the North Shore. I would say even in the short time though, its been really well received and welcomed by staff, as well as clients and families.

How does Foundry support families of youth who are accessing services?

Foundry uses a client and family-centred model of care in all areas of service. We offer several parent support and education groups and we also have a parent navigator support worker who is contracted from the Canadian Mental Health Association. We also have family counsellors via Family Services onsite who offer their services. Also, as an OT, for youth that consent to have their families involved, I am always working directly with parents and families in supporting their family member in their rehab and recovery. We know moving forward and making lasting change doesn’t happen in isolation and involving family can make such a difference in outcomes.
How do you think the Foundry service delivery model impacts the client experience of care?

In general, I think the biggest thing is improved access to service. Foundry is the lowest barrier mental health and addictions service I have been a part of, and I would say has existed in public health so far that I am aware of. There has obviously been drop-in medical clinics for youth for a while but it’s so new for public mental health.  Also, lower barrier integration - so not being passed from service to service that are located in different parts of the city. At Foundry, rather than the client having to navigate this big web of services and tell their story over and over again, we take care of a lot of that for them. They come in and meet with a drop-in worker which might be a youth worker or a counsellor and they get their needs assessed – needs in that moment, and service needs. If they get referred to an OT, or to Housing, or any other service – it’s almost an invisible referral because the client thinks "Oh, I’m just going back to Foundry, and I’ve already been there". Foundry is basically a hub of youth services all under one roof.
In terms of OT service, I would say access to service is improved as well. Youth can come in and access our groups right away and even self refer, or find out about OT service when they drop in. Traditionally, in public health care, clients have to jump through a few hoops before getting to see an OT, so eliminating some of that red tape is one of the best ways to engage more youth that need our services.

Another cool aspect of the drop-in clinic that falls under the OT umbrella is the concept of a “therapeutic waiting room.” It’s called Open Studio and the premise of it is capitalizing on all the wasted time spent just sitting in the waiting room. The idea is to offer therapeutic service and engage youth from the moment they walk in the doors.  It’s using activity, and art mediums and creating a sense of community. We have peer support and other support staff there to talk to youth, engage them in process-based art and activity, and connect them with each other. It’s a sensory calming, safe and supportive environment where there is no commitment and no goal. Clients can drop in off the street and stay for 5 minutes or hours. To me, it’s not just about having a bunch of “group therapy programs” but about creating community and spaces that youth want to be a part of, feel connected to, and want to come back to. Our new community garden is another example of this type of community-building project. We know that half the time youth come to groups it’s for each other. So, it’s about giving them more of those opportunities and helping them to feel connected to something and to feel comfortable here, like they want to come here. Because a 14-year-old doesn’t care what specific “interventions” or theoretical models we're using, they just care what their experience is like, if they feel connected, if they feel comfortable and if they have fun. Those are the things that I think some of the OT programming is bringing.

Can you explain the Integrated Stepped Care Model
It’s a function-based model rather than a model just based on symptoms that Foundry uses. Step 1 is a typical youth with no medical or mental health issues who perhaps present with some fairly typical short-term stressors (i.e. a break up or exam stress, etc.). Step 4 is someone with chronic and persistent addictions and mental health issues, social issues, multiple barriers that require a multi-disciplinary team approach. Step 2 and Step 3 fall between these two. These steps are not a diagnosis, they are based on function. The groups under the OT umbrella are primarily for youth within Steps 2, 3 and 4, and individual OT service is primarily reserved for youth within Step 4, and at times, Step 3. Since OT addresses function – self care, life skills, school, work, social, leisure – and since transition aged youth are often all dealing with functional concerns at some point, sometimes it can seem like all youth of this age need an OT. In a perfect world, we would have those resources to provide this. However, I am the only OT currently at Foundry North Shore, and I only
work .8 FTE/4 days per week, and individualized service is only about a 3rd of my job approximately. 
The Stepped Care model can help provide some language to how we try to reserve this service for those youth and young adults who need this service and support the most. Also, we don’t want to over support. One of the core principles of Psychosocial Rehabilitation (PSR) is providing the least amount of professional support as needed. Although OTs may be trained or educated as having expertise in occupational performance, if there is a youth who is only having minor functional struggles and could be adequately supported by a peer support worker, or other non-clinical/professional service, then I see this as actually more in line with PSR principles and in a broader sense, building capacity and empowering young people that they have expertise in their own journeys.

How do you think OTs can be most effective in improving health outcomes for youth with mental health and addiction issues?

I think it’s all about function and building capacity – addressing barriers and helping clients move forward with their functional goals.  I mostly work with youth in “transition age” – getting back to doing things, figuring out what the barriers are that are getting in the way of all of the things that they are wanting to achieve functionally in their life – and there are so many at this age. That transition from child to adulthood is often when things get interrupted like school, early work experiences, and life skill acquisition. Adolescence is often the time we see the first presentation of mental health issues, and it’s when experimental drug use can start turning into a coping mechanism. We start seeing a lot of these things that become barriers and then they start interrupting that normal typical functional development that usually people at this age have. 

The OT role is about helping them sift through what’s going on and getting in the way of participation and engagement in life occupations, and what it is they would really like to be doing with their life. It’s about figuring out how we can address some of these barriers, start working on some of the goals they have. It’s about helping them prioritize and build routines and connect to the community. It’s about helping them figure out who their community is, and who they want it to be. A lot of it’s just about getting out there, not just sitting in the office but actually working with clients in the community and environments where life happens. It’s working with them in their real environments like school, or just helping them find solutions to some of the things that are getting in the way. We know that obviously occupation is so connected to health outcomes, so in turn we see a huge improvement in mental health. We don’t wait until people start feeling better to start doing things; it’s actually the doing that starts changing the way people feel.

Also, with function – we can’t separate mental health barriers, from physical barriers, from cognitive barriers, from environmental barriers, etc. We need to look at the person as a whole within their current context and work on whatever it is that is getting in the way to functioning and meeting their goals.

For more information on North Shore Foundry, check out: