October is Occupational Therapy Month, and occupational therapists help clients regain or maintain their abilities to participate in a variety of daily tasks and activities. They help those who are experiencing difficulties which could be due to injury, disability, illness, mental health or barriers in the social and physical environment. Four NTHSSA occupational therapists are celebrating the month by outlining their unique roles and highlighting the work occupational therapists do in the NWT.
Kristi Gursky currently works as a Holistic Wellness Consultant with the Integrated Care Teams at the Primary Care Clinic in Yellowknife. She graduated from the University of Alberta in 2011 with her Master of Science in Occupational Therapy. In her role as a holistic wellness counselor, Kristi uses a relationship-based approach to care, providing behavioral health support to patients throughout their lives. Working alongside primary care teams, Kristi helps patients manage symptoms of stress through crisis support, education, bereavement counseling and lifestyle coaching. life in areas such as sleep, routine and physical activity.
“My training as an occupational therapist gives me a unique perspective to help patients learn skills to optimize their coping skills and reduce barriers to greater well-being.”
Kristi is originally from Alberta and moved to the Northwest Territories five years ago. She lives with her partner Mike and her cat Mousey. She feels immense gratitude for living as a guest on the territory of the indigenous peoples of this land and enjoys paddling, swimming in the lake, foraging, fishing and curling.
“I am thrilled to celebrate Occupational Therapy Month and highlight one of the many roles occupational therapists play in our healthcare system! »
Claire Racette moved to Yellowknife just over two years ago and for the first year and a half worked in Stanton and now provides services to home care clients and residents of Avens/Territorial Dementia Facility. Previously working in an emergency department in downtown Toronto and moving to Yellowknife during the pandemic, Claire welcomed the change of pace and the opportunity for new experiences in the Northwest Territories. “Being in the North there are so many challenges due to limited access to resources, but people are very resilient and creative in how they solve their problems.”
“I think occupational therapy is important because we look at people as a whole; we try to meet and assess the physical, cognitive and emotional needs of all our clients. Our reach can cover everything from wheelchair assessments to helping people with mental health issues achieve their goals. Our role is to enable function in meaningful occupations, which gives the impression that we are only working with people who have problems at work, but it really means that we are helping people to do the things they have to do in their daily lives (i.e. the things that ‘occupy’ their time). We try to find ways to help our customers solve problems to achieve their goals. Sometimes this is through a piece of equipment, a splint, motivational talks, planning/goal setting, cognitive assessments – the list goes on.
Claire has found that providing services to other communities in part of the Northwest Territories has been a rewarding experience and an area of growth. “I try to practice in a culturally appropriate/safer way; keeping in mind the social determinants of health and the long-term effects of the traumas of the residential school system and colonialism. I still have more to learn, but I have found self-reflection and reflection with peers to be key and really important, something I find I do constantly here.
“I really enjoy living and working here and hope to be here for many more years!”
Linsey Doucette has worked in many service delivery areas such as adult, pediatrics and as an autism spectrum disorder consultant in occupational therapy during her 13 years of employment. She recently moved into the role of supervising the OT department. Linsey particularly enjoys working with the pediatric population; helping them to engage in meaningful activities. She is also committed to building capacity within the OT department, collaborating and mentoring colleagues in various service areas. Although most of her work is in Yellowknife, she provides travel outreach services to other northern regions.
“Occupational therapy is a unique and diverse health profession that focuses on creating and/or maintaining participation in meaningful occupation. You can see occupational therapists in a variety of settings and observe them working with diverse populations throughout life. They work in interdisciplinary teams and are an integral part of the health care system. We have an excellent department of therapists across the territory who demonstrate and represent the core values of occupational therapy; working collaboratively with clients and community stakeholders to promote independence in all facets of life.
Linsey received a master’s degree in occupational therapy from Dalhousie University and a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from the University of New Brunswick. She moved to Yellowknife in 2009 from Prince Edward Island and has been trying to find a way to bring the two places closer together ever since. Linsey loves to beautifully explore the territory of the indigenous peoples of this land with her dog Barry and enjoys curling on Friday nights.
Sarah Smith is currently an inpatient occupational therapist at Stanton Territorial Hospital and works with Behchokǫ̀ residents and healthcare staff through monthly travel clinics.
“As an occupational therapist with the NTHSSA, my goal is to develop a culturally sensitive therapeutic relationship with the residents of Yellowknife, encompassing the communities of the NWT and the Kitikmeot region of Nunavut, their family/circle of support. Assessing a patient’s functional challenges, abilities, and personal goals while facilitating independence and safety in their activities of daily living is important for successful hospital discharge, recovery, and well-being. to be of an individual.
Sarah brought together the “Rehab Rebels” who participated in this year’s Mud Run with Team FUN and raised over $1,800 while promoting the importance of rehab services in a person’s recovery .
Sarah enjoys being an enthusiastic, passionate and creative therapist, with many years of experience as an occupational therapist in Victoria, British Columbia, on the unceded territory of the Lukwungen peoples, also known as the Songhees and First Nations. Esquimalt. Sarah has had the honor of being featured in the BC Health Care Heroes art installation at the BC Ministry of Health, receiving an Island Health/University of Victoria research grant, working as a spokesperson for the Victoria Hospitals Foundation and to be a recipient of their Caring Spirit Award.
Sarah’s humanistic approach to her practice includes functional and cognitive assessments, diagnostics, rehabilitation and preventive services for people in a variety of mental and physical health settings in acute care, outpatient services, schools , community organizations, from pediatrics to the elderly. Leading patient and family-focused research projects, presenting at health conferences, and educating interdisciplinary team members and students about the role of occupational therapists and holistic wellness is also a rewarding part of our occupation.
“I used to live in Whitehorse and I really feel drawn to the magic of the North. I enjoyed immersing myself in the culture, community and natural beauty of the traditional lands and having the opportunity to be invited into the territory of the indigenous peoples of this land. I am truly grateful to learn more about the lives and traditions of patients and families in the communities of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.