What do Occupational Therapy Aides Do?
In occupational therapy offices or nursing and hospital facilities, occupational therapy aides are responsible for helping occupational therapists and assistants by following strict instructions to provide support to patients and therapists. All activities are delegated and completed under supervision to help patients recover from injuries.
Occupational Therapy Aides Skills and Abilities
Following procedures is key to being successful as a therapy aide, so it is important to have active listening skills on the job. This means you must be able to understand what others are saying and ask questions to clarify. When working with patients, you must have great communication skills in writing and speaking. Service skills help you scan the area for ways to help patients and other employees. Problems will arise on the job, so the ability to sense them before they happen is important to have. Critical thinking skills will help you solve problems before or as they occur.
Occupational Therapy Aides Duties
Most of your duties as an occupational therapy aide will be supportive of the therapists or assistants working with patients. This includes recording your observations of patient progress and accomplishments, as well as attendance and attitudes during their stay. You will file and report these factors to superiors. Part of your job will be to maintain a level of encouragement as you work with patients as they reach their goals. You may be responsible for these duties:
- Supervise patients completing fine motor skills activities.
- Set up and stock patient and treatment rooms prior to patient’s arrival.
- Follow infection control guidelines on all equipment.
- Follow directions given by superiors to enhance the patient experience.
- Transport clients to outing destinations.
- Complete administrative and clerical duties, such as scheduling, answering questions, filing and ordering supplies.
- Assist during diagnostic tests.
- Build and maintain cooperative relationships with patients, superiors and peers.
- Oversee the inventory of supplies and condition of medical equipment.
Occupational Therapy Aides Tools and Technology
Many of the tools you will interact with as an occupational therapy aide are therapy tools, such as scooters, walkers, balance beams or balance boards. For patients with communication deficiencies, you may have to use communication aides, such as adaptive communication switches. When you are not working with patients, you will be recording and filing information using various software programs. These include scheduling, accounting and billing, medical records and spreadsheet software.
Education and Training for Occupational Therapy Aides
While it is possible to attain a therapy aide positon without some college, most need an associate’s degree to find employment. Many employees complete bachelor’s and master’s degrees in occupational therapy. Courses in rehabilitation are helpful as you can expect to receive just a short period of training once hired.
Occupational Therapy Aides Salary
As an occupational therapy aide, you can expect a low to mid-range pay rate during your career. The bottom 10 percent of employees make just below $9.00 an hour, while the top 10 percent make $21.00 an hour. The median rate of pay is almost $13.00 an hour, or $26,500 per year. In some states, you may earn more or less than the national average. Washington D.C., New York and North Dakota have a much higher median average, between $16.00 and $19.00 an hour. Arizona and Illinois’ median rates are much lower, between $8.00 and $9.00 an hour.
Occupational Therapy Aides Jobs by Geography
There are more than 11 thousand jobs available across the country. With an anticipated 36 percent rise in job creation over the next several years, you will see over five hundred job openings each year. Texas, Massachusetts, Michigan and Pennsylvania offer the most opportunities for occupational therapy aides, which may help you find employment.