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Our 'sticky toffee' style!

I’ve just got off the phone for the third time this week from someone wanting to make a new referral.. not just any old referral, but a ‘sticky’ one. We often don’t know what ‘sticky’ really looks like until we go out to meet this client and discover their toffee like case. Like a super goey, old school fate kind of toffee. The ones with the freckles, that you can chew on for hours. Remember how difficult they were to bite into?!

I’ve started wondering what it is about Occupational Therapists’ in particular, that have the ability to detangle a giant gooey mess of a file with the patience of a saint. The stragglers, the one’s who are really stuck in the mud, the one’s that have been going no where .. or even backwards, fast.

We somehow get hold of these cases… these people, and start to crack our way through their hard (and difficult) exterior to find something and someone we can usually work with! We have a way of building relationships and breaking down the perceived barrier between their insurance claim and the actual person, the one that’s been crying out to be listened to and actually heard.

I’ve had a good think about this and had a chat with a few (biased, perhaps?) OT colleagues and this is why I think OT’s are good with ‘sticky ones’ (particularly the OT’s on our Team!)

1.We’ve got the recipes down pat: during our assessment we look at EVERY aspect of the person, their social life and their physical and emotional wellbeing. Not just their leg or their back… call me biased but I really think this holistic approach is an OT’s number 1 skill. It’s bred into us in those early university days, never to be forgotten!

2. We know all the ingredients: It often gets referred to as ‘the lingo’ or ‘insurance speak’ by our patients. We have a way of explaining the tricky legislation and all things paperwork that are often a barrier to their progress. On the other side of the coin, we communicate with insurers in ‘reasonable and necessary’ terms and can provide the reports and outcomes they desire. It’s a win, win for everyone.

3. We know how to stir the pot: Like those difficult phone calls, heated case conferences, miraculously obtain clinical notes and pull strings with our favourite doctors secretaries for urgent appointment times! If you need something, we’ll get it done, just ask. You’ll find us in stuffy doctors waiting rooms for hours sometimes (that’s a story for another day), we step into people’s showers (with them!) and we can stomach the sight and smell of bodily fluids and still have compassion. Do you have a gaping pressure sore? Sure, let me take a look!

4. We love cooking: I’ve never heard a patient say they don’t like their OT. We’re usually the favourites – helping people to do the things they love again, through practice, patience and hands on assistance. We traditionally like to cook and do craft and sneakily disguise this form of rehab. Who doesn’t like cupcakes for morning tea or a hand made card on their birthday?!

5. It’s all about the sprinkles: We’ve all got a bag as deep as Mary Poppins! You need a tape measure, band aid, gloves, a tissue, a multitude of pens or sprinkles for those toffee’s?!- we’ve got you covered. Don’t forget the agenda, contact numbers and a whole range of other random facts about the person we’ve accumulated along the way.

If it weren’t for these chewy, goey, toffees, keeping us on our toes, our work life would be a whole lot less entertaining. So when you next pick up the phone and begin with an apology – please don’t! These are the cases we love, the ones that challenge us every step of the way, that push our boundaries and make us use every inch of our clinical experience, just to bite through that toffee!

Have you got a ‘sticky’ one for us?