The goal of all my collaboration is to support recovery and functional independence for individuals who face daily challenges. I have trained and supervised staff and students who work directly with the clients of various programs.
The intended purpose of occupational therapy is to improve a client’s ability to successfully engage in necessary and desired roles and occupations (e.g., instrumental activities of daily living, sleep and rest, work, and leisure) by helping them to develop time management strategies, habits and routines that promote healthy engagement with the outside world.
In 2008, as NAMI-Metro was planning for their annual walk to raise funds, heighten public awareness and reduce stigma associated with mental illness, Suzanne and her colleagues realized that their clients needed to prepare physically for the NAMI Walk. They developed the idea for an exciting community service project that could be implemented by occupational therapy students.
Practice-Based Intervention in Time Management and Organization
Let’s Get Organized was the Occupational Therapy intervention chosen In 2009 for inclusion in the Health Care Innovation Exchange by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and its Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). This innovation profile is titled: Time Management Program Helps Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Residents with Co-Occurring Disorders Improve Life Skills Required for Successful Community Reentry (White, 2009). The Health Care Innovation Exchange is designed to support health care professionals in sharing and adopting innovations that improve the delivery of care to patients. AHRQ gave the intervention moderate evidence rating stating, “The evidence consists of a small, pre- and post-implementation comparison of knowledge and behaviors related to time management, along with anecdotal, post-implementation reports from staff on changes in participants' skills.”
Sensory Modulation Interventions on Inpatient Behavioral Health Units
Suzanne White’s most recent project stems from her avid interest in Sensory Modulation Interventions for behavioral health units to encourage occupational therapists to use sensory modulation strategies as a method for coping with stress and controlling anxiety on behavioral health inpatient units, and as a method to reduce physical restraints and seclusion on psychiatric units. In 2008, through Tina Champagne, M.Ed., OTR/L, CCAP guidance and intervention, the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation contracted to use the “Sensory Modulation and Environment” Protocol to implement sensory modulation programs on inpatient behavioral health units in New York City’s Municipal Hospitals. This served the purpose of reducing or eliminating the use of seclusion and/or restraints on patients with acute mental illness.
As a consultant to this citywide initiative, Suzanne has fostered an enhanced understanding of sensory modulation interventions among administrators and creative arts therapists as well as occupational therapist working with acutely ill patients in behavioral health units in these urban institutions. Throughout this process, Suzanne emphasized that occupational therapists are particularly skilled in developing and implementing these programs. She has participated in regional and national creative arts therapy conferences to support the inclusion of Occupational Therapy in implementing this intervention.
Mental Health Special Interest Section Annual Program: Recovery and the National Mental Health Transformation Initiative-Promoting Leadership in Occupational Therapy Practice with Tina Champagne, David Merlo and Marilyn Johnson at the American Occupational Therapy Association 93rd Annual Conference & Expo. San Diego CA, April 27, 2013.