The Power of Occupational Therapy in Home Modifications

June 14, 2024
by Courtney Cole, Howard University Occupational Therapy Fellow at Rebuilding Together Petaluma

I am currently a Level 2 student at Howard University, pursuing a degree in Occupational Therapy. Occupational Therapy is a health profession focused on helping individuals participate in meaningful activities, or occupations, that are important to them. This spring semester, I had the privilege of completing a fellowship at Rebuilding Together Petaluma, a non-profit organization dedicated to repairing homes and making accessibility modifications for low-income homeowners. I not only experienced personal growth but also professional development, which I can apply to my future career as an occupational therapist.

During my time as a fellow at Rebuilding Together, us fellows were responsible for facilitating meetings, conducting research and taking notes during our weekly sessions. Additionally, I was tasked with completing assignments such as an asset map and a case study. This experience will be highly beneficial to me as an occupational therapist in the future as it has sharpened my organizational skills, research abilities and ability to effectively document and analyze information, all of which are essential aspects of the occupational therapy profession.

During my site visit, I had the opportunity to gain hands-on experience by visiting a client's home alongside my affiliate. I witnessed how they assess and implement modifications tailored to a client's needs. This experience was incredibly beneficial to me as it allowed me to apply what I've learned in my program and contribute to making the project more client-centered. These modifications ensure that the client has accessibility, safety, comfort and independence in their home. As a future occupational therapist, some of my goals for clients are to promote clients' quality of life, foster independence and prevent injuries.

I am incredibly thankful for the Rebuilding Together Petaluma team, who not only shared a wealth of knowledge during my visit but also made the experience enjoyable. Building professional relationships with them was invaluable, and I look forward to putting this experience into practice once I complete my occupational therapy program.

Rebuilding Together's Howard University Fellowship program was made possible through a Rural Capacity Building grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). We are thankful for HUD's commitment to affordable housing and community development activities in rural areas.