February 5, 2020

Visiting At An Early Age

Employees come from different backgrounds and experience. One occupational therapist, Bette Parker, started at our agency while working for Concord Hospital in 1986.

"At the time, Concord Regional VNA did not have its own occupational therapists,” said Bette. “One of my co-workers did some agency work and if she was on vacation or was out for another reason, I would pick up work for the agency as an employee of Concord Hospital.”

“I took a leave of absence because I had my first child,” she added. “To keep my foot in the door, I volunteered to do quarterly record reviews. When I was ready to go back to work full-time, I decided I needed a new beginning and applied to the agency and got the job.”

Currently, Bette is one of 19 occupational therapists at Concord Regional VNA. She visits five to six patients a day, easily outdistancing her caseload when she started in January 1994.

“We have therapists who have more training in specific areas so it is great to have a large staff of occupational therapists because we can assign a specific person to care for a patient who has a specific need,” she said. “Back when I started, there were one or two occupational therapists.”

Since Bette started, technology has improved our ability to increase efficiency, such as locating patient homes more quickly enabling employees to provide more timely care.

“We did not have GPS back when I started,” she said. “You had to look for the flowers in the front yard and there were no more flowers anymore because it was winter. I remember being in Henniker and they said that there would be a boat in the front yard. It was summer and I drove up and down the road looking for a boat in the front yard and the boat was in the lake.”

Getting to Know the Neighbors
Looking back, Bette realized that she started visiting people in need at an early age.

“As a kid, I had a neighbor, an elderly woman, who stayed in her upstairs bedroom because she could not get up and down the stairs,” Bette said. “I do not remember all the reasons why, but all I knew is that she was always in the bedroom sitting near the window looking out. I used to go over there to sit and talk with her.”

Bette was an only child and often helped her grandfather, who ran a grocery store in Troy.

“There were a few people in town who could not get out to the store,” she said. “They would call in their grocery orders and I would go with my dad on some Saturday mornings to make deliveries. I can imagine how they looked forward to our visits.”

“Here was this little kid coming to see them and they would give me candy and cake,” Bette added. “I guess I was doing visits early on.”

Caring for Our Community
Everyone agrees that there is no better place to heal than at home. Patients are in surroundings where they are comfortable and can remain independent. They can find out if their walker does not fit through the bathroom door or if there is a step or a stair that is difficult to manage. Our employees work directly with patients in solving their challenges in their home environment.

“I like the people and I like the interaction,” Bette said. “I like determining how people can be as independent as much as possible. It is important that people feel like they can do something themselves even if it is a small thing.”

As an occupational therapist, Bette helps patients improve their motor skills, such as buttoning a shirt, putting shoes on, or cutting food. She also assists with exercise and positioning programs and uses specially-designed equipment to help patients complete basic tasks or daily activities.

“I have helped patients reorganize kitchen cabinets to put things within reach,” she added. “We have put rubber bands on the outside of a shampoo bottle so it does not slip through someone’s hands. You have to be creative because not everyone can afford catalog items. At the same time, I am always talking with them about safety."