I often ask myself this very question when I see a new patient. Every OT has those days where you have a tougher time than usual figuring out what interventions to do with your patient.

I use the interventions in this post when I feel like switching things up for my current patients in order to keep therapy interesting and effective.

In this post, I’ve listed my 4 most performed occupation-based interventions to do with your patient.

As occupational therapists, we should all strive to keep our interventions occupation-based whenever we can. Especially since patients perform better with functional, meaningful tasks.

1. Groceries Galore

This is my favorite and most often used intervention because it is SO versatile. I purchased a small plastic bin and saved all of my empty, clean grocery containers. The containers all have various lids and labels so that we can utilize them for functional reaching tasks. Patients may be seated, in a kitchen setting, or in the OT gym at your facility.

Groceries Galore - interventions to do with your patient

I love, love, love using my kit when I’m working on standing tolerance, reaching, and fine motor coordination. This allows my patients to work on multiple deficits at the same time. For reaching, the kit can be brought into kitchens, and you can have your patient reach either low or high based on their abilities.

For cognitive work with TBIs or strokes, I will also write prices down and make little worksheets with simple math problems for them to complete in addition to opening the containers.

2. ADL’s (Of Course!)

For those of you new to occupational therapy, ADL is a very common phrase meaning Activities of Daily Living.

A lot of you may work in facilities that require you to schedule several ADL treatments a day. However, in some facilities that I’ve worked in caregivers usually have already gotten the patients dressed before I get there. This makes it tricky to integrate ADLs as you normally would.

If this happens, I still strive to get a lot of quality self-care in. This includes donning/doffing socks and shoes and jackets in the afternoon or shower transfers in the later morning.

Whatever the time is, you can never go wrong mixing in ADLs. The benefit will be greater than strictly working on therapeutic exercise or activities not related to self-care.

3. Simple Meal Prep

If you’re fortunate enough to work somewhere with any sort of training kitchen, getting some just-add-water muffin mix with a bowl and muffin pan can go a long way.

Simple meal prep with your OT patients.

Simple meal prep works on SO much: balance, reaching, problem solving, attention, upper extremity range of motion, and more. It is especially helpful for patients with impaired cognition.

Simple meal prep is highly functional and helps you gauge their safety at home post-discharge.

4. Folding Clothes

Forget that ROM rainbow arc (ugh).

Bring in some old clothes you meant to donate to The Goodwill. You could also use towels at your facility if you’re in a pinch. You can incorporate this with standing (if possible) and work on range of motion this way instead of that totally non-functional arc.

Your patients will definitely appreciate this, and they won’t feel like they’re doing some meaningless task.


There are many other great occupation-based interventions to do with your patient. These are currently my favorites.

Jan Davis’s Medbridge videos have a lot of great functional ideas for stroke patients as well like making orange juice and washing a car. If you have access to that, be sure to check those out as well.

And most importantly, have fun!

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