Outpatient occupational therapy service is provided in hospitals and free-standing clinics to clients who reside elsewhere. Clients receiving services in this setting are medically stable and able to tolerate a few hours of therapy and travel to an outpatient clinic. Although many clients are adjusting to a new disability, some persons with long-standing disability may be referred for re-evaluations of functional status and equipment-related issues. The frequency of services provided in this setting varies substantially, with some clients receiving services several times a week and other clients seen once every few months. The frequency of service is determined by the client's needs and the services offered at the outpatient clinic.
To evaluate a client's performance of activities of daily living (e.g. showering, dressing, eating, feeding, functional mobility, personal hygiene and grooming, and toilet hygiene) or instrumental activities of daily living (e.g. caring for others and pets, child rearing, communication management, community mobility, financial management, meal preparation and cleanup, safety and emergency maintenance, and shopping) in an outpatient setting, the therapist must extrapolate how task performance would occur at home.
The physical design and equipment seen in outpatient clinics vary to meet the intervention needs of specific disabilities. Hand therapy programs, for example, will have treatment tables for exercise and activities and areas for splint fabrication. A clinic designed to address industrial work is often equipped with special exercise equipment, which mimics work tasks. Less commonly found in the outpatient setting are complete kitchens with cooking equipment and therapeutic apartments with bathing facilities, living rooms, and bedrooms.
The social context found in outpatient programs is quite distinctive. The client has begun to resume life in the home and community and may be newly aware of problems not previously foreseen or acknowledged. The therapist is an ally in resolving problems and promoting a smooth transition to home, to which the client or family members may easily disclose concerns so the client can function as independently as possible.
Information on this page retrieved from Pedretti's Occupational Therapy Practice Skills for Physical Dysfunction, 6th Edition.