Health & Safety in the Office: Ergonomics

An effective workspace is essential to feeling well at work and wherever else. Ergonomic changes to your workspace promote good posture and contribute to physical wellbeing. They also allow better efficiency with tasks.  Consider the ergonomic recommendations below and seek professional help from a registered occupational therapist if you need more help.

Ergonomic Recommendations

Consider the following:

  • Posture.
    • Are you sitting up straight?
    • Are your shoulders relaxed?
    • Are you leaning forward, creating tension in your back?
  • The height of your chair.
    • Are your forearms horizontal, your wrists straight, and your thighs at a 90 – 110 degree angle at the hips?
    • Does the lower part of your backrest support the curve of your back?
    • Do you have armrests, to decrease the strain on your back and neck?
  • Your computer monitor.
    • Is the top line of text on the screen at eye level?
    • Is the screen an arm’s length away from your eyes?
    • Do you need to adjust the contrast, brightness, or font size on the screen?
  • Your visual needs.
    • WorkSafe BC has a list of information to share with your ophthalmologist or optometrist regarding your desk and computer work.
    • Do you need to lower the overhead light levels to prevent glare?
    • Do you need to move your desk lamp (to the opposing side to your dominant hand)?
  • Your work area organization.
    • Are frequently used items close to you (within a 30 cm reach)?
    • Are occasionally used items within an arm’s reach to you (within a within a 50 cm reach)?
    • Are any rarely used items put away or set further aside?
  • Your phone set up.
    • Do you use a headset or speakerphone to avoid awkward neck positions?
Courtesy of WorkSafe BC

Take short breaks (20 sec. to 2 min.) to allow your muscles to rest between repetitive activities. On longer breaks, stand up and walk around so that you use different muscles than while sitting.  Try basic exercises like these here or here to help you prevent strains at work.

You may find an ergonomic assessment by an OT to help address any issues you have.  Contact us and we will be happy to have an occupational therapist come to you.


Phone: 604.696.1066 ext 1000


Meet Jaclyn Forsythe & Nicole Chan

Welcome Jaclyn Forsythe and Nicole Chan to the OT Works! team. They provide community OT services helping clients with musculoskeletal and orthopaedic injuries as well as mental health issues and mixed diagnoses. They work with clients following motor vehicle accidents and workplace injuries with a focus function and return-to-work.

Nicole is passionate about community-based rehabilitation. She meets her clients where they are at in their recovery and her treatment solutions are insightful, creative and individualized.

Jaclyn organizes and simplifies complex situations to produce meaningful results. She has experience with chronic pain with a focus on return-to-function and return-to-work.

Like all of our therapists, Nicole and Jaclyn, are full registrants and in good standing with the College of Occupational Therapists of British Columbia (COTBC).

Learn More:

SMART Resolutions

OT Works! takes the SMART approach to goal setting.  We help our clients clearly define their goals and put steps in place so that they can achieve them. Using approaches similar to ours, you can successfully maintain your New Years’ resolution.

Occupational therapy is goal-oriented. Our clients may want to bear a certain weight with their arms. They may work towards returning to work full-time. Perhaps, they want to be able to go about their daily routines as independently as possible. We use SMART goal-planning to make that happen. It is a popular technique that works for many.

If your goal is unrelated to the examples above, that is okay. Try this method out and maybe you will achieve your goal too.

Setting Up Your Goal


  • Your goal should be well defined and clear.
  • Ask yourself:
    • What am I trying to accomplish?
    • Why am I pursuing this goal?
    • Who is involved?
    • Where is my goal, or where will I work towards obtaining it?
    • Which resources do I need and which barriers do I face?
    • When will I start?  When will I meet my goal?


  • Know how far you are from completing your goal.
  • Ask yourself:
    • How much or how many do I need?
    • How will you know once you have achieved your goal?


  • Your support network can help motivate you so that you aren’t overwhelmed.
  • Ask yourself:
    • Are those people who can help me (such as friends, family, health professionals, and/or employers) aware of my goal?
    • What resources or support can they provide?

Realistic and Relevant

  • Be honest with yourself.
  • Ask yourself:
    • Do I have the resources, knowledge and support to achieve my goal?
    • Does my goal support my current or future needs?


  • Check that you have the right amount of time
    (not too much, not too little) to achieve your goal.
  • Ask yourself:
    • When will I aim to accomplish my goal?
    • What steps will I take along the way?
    • What can I do today?


Besides SMART goals, some therapists at OT Works! are trained in the Progressive Goal Attainment Program.  To deliver PGAP services, occupational therapists require additional training and a certificate.  PGAP is an evidence-based program that reduces the barriers of disability by specifically targeting the psychological and social obstacles clients face.  PGAP aims to increase a client’s quality of life and to assist them with their return to work.  If you would like to inquire further about PGAP, please contact

Learn More

OT Works 2018 Collage

2018 – OT Works! Year in Review

As 2018 draws to a close, we reflects on how we have grown as a team and as a part of our wider community this past year.  This year we welcomed four new occupational therapists and a new communications coordinator to our team.  We have become better acquainted with the strengths and passions of each OT Work! team member in our regular social events, professional development sessions, and expanding range of rehab services.

We have also supported other organizations as they empower people in Canada and around the world ( Run for Water, Because I am a Girl, Project Change Foundation).

In 2019 we look forward to creating new memories, walking alongside our current and future customers and clients, and continuing to learn and grow. 

From our families to yours, we wish you a Happy Holidays, and a Joyous New Year!


Being Mindful During the Holidays

The holiday season is a time of joy and connection with others, but it can also be a stressful time of year.  With shorter days and darker weather, the holidays can also bring lengthy to-do lists, and crowded activities and limited time to relax and share meaningful moments with family and friends.  Practicing mindfulness can help alleviate the winter blues and better prepare you for the holiday season.  Mindfulness can help you enjoy the seasonal changes and let go of holiday stress and channel your attention towards the current tasks at hand.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the intentional practice of letting go of stress and pain and letting yourself experience what is happening right here and now.    The intention is to mentally let go of things that distract you from what you are doing.  Mindfulness is often about letting go of our to-do-list tasks, expectations and worries so that you can focus completely on what you are doing in the present moment.

Mindfulness is one strategies that an occupational therapist can help you make activities more approachable, especially those that have become stressful since an illness or injury.

Try It Out!

The more you remember to return your attention to the present moment in this exercise, the easier it will be to do so during a real-life moment, when your attachment to thinking or worrying creates unnecessary stress.  Randy McVeigh, an occupational therapist with OT Works!, has 11 years of experience practicing mindfulness.  Here is one of Randy’s approaches to mindfulness for the holidays:  Sound meditation.

Sound Meditation

  • Set a timer: Decide how long you will practice the mindfulness exercise for.  Consider aiming for 5, 10, or 15 minutes.
  • Get comfortable: Sit in an upright position on a chair or couch; try to find a position in which you can feel comfortable, yet alert
  • Breathe: Close your eyes and take 5 deep breaths.  Feeling your belly expand and contract as you inhale and exhale
  • Listen: Notice the sounds in the environment around you.  You may be able to hear the sound of cars outside, your refrigerator humming, neighbours talking, or any multitude of other things.  Or, you may hear silence.
  • Notice and observe: Try to just notice the quality of the sounds you are hearing, without getting caught up in thinking about what they mean.  For instance, if you hear a dog bark, pay attention to the sound of the bark, without thinking about whose dog it is and what the dog is barking at.  We are trying to practice keeping our attention “present” to the on-going sensation of sound, rather than getting lost in thinking about sound.  This is easier said than done!  Most people will get distracted many times when meditating for 5 minutes.  That’s normal!  Don’t try to stifle thought.  Just acknowledge when you have been distracted by thought, and practice gently returning your attention to the sounds.
  • Notice your feelings: You may find yourself enjoying listening to the sounds.  If you are startled or irritated by a particular sound, just notice this feeling the sound has created in you, and return your attention to the sound
  • Focus again on your breath: Return your attention to your breathing.   Take 5 deep breaths, noticing the feeling of the air going in and out.
  • Return: When your timer alerts you, or when you are ready, gently open your eyes. Take a moment and observe your environment (sounds, smells, sights). Notice how your body feels right. Notice your thoughts and emotions.

That’s the practice. It’s often been said that it’s very simple, but it’s not necessarily easy. This exercise isn’t about the mindfulness meditation itself, it’s about building a skill that you can take out into the world. You can develop both concentration and awareness so you’re able to more frequently recognize what’s happening right now, make more intentional decisions about where your attention should be, and respond to daily situations in a more skillful way.

Learn More



Supporting Communities: Project Change Foundation 2018 Awards

The Project Change Foundation held its annual award and fundraising event on November 22, 2018.  Project Change provides small grants and other support to new or emerging charities with a clear vision for improving their communities or the environment.  This year’s PCF grant recipient is Chilliwack Restorative Justice and Youth Advocacy Association. Previous recipients: The Lipstick ProjectCommunity First Foundation, and Binners’ Project.

OT Works! is a proud sponsor of the local Vancouver non-profit organization Project Change Foundation.  Change is central to the philosophy of occupational therapy and our therapists facilitate change to promote health and recovery.  Pamela and Jason attended the Project Change event and panel discussion on “Living Your Best Life: Ideas For Unleashing Your Full Potential”.  We were inspired by the ideas and wisdom shared by the panel.

Learn more about the Project Change Foundation and the Chilliwack Restorative Justice and Youth Advocacy Association.

You can learn more about approaches to restorative justice here.

Finding balance for Falls Prevention

November is Fall Prevention Month

Everyone experiences a fall now and then. While most falls do not cause serious injury, occasionally we are reminded of how even a simple fall from standing can be catastrophic. Falls are especially devastating among older adults causing over 90% of hip fractures and 60% of head injuries. In fact, on average, every 10 minutes a senior is hospitalized because of a fall.

Some people believe that falls are a normal part of aging and can’t be prevented, or that it won’t happen to them. The truth is: There are many things you can do to prevent falls. Many risk factors are within our control to change.

What can you do to help prevent falls?

  • Keep your body active: You are less likely to fall if you have strong muscles and good balance.
  • Have your eyes checked by an optometrist once a year: Good vision can reduce your risk of falling.
  • Have your doctor or pharmacist review your medications: Some medications can make you feel drowsy, dizzy, or unsteady on your feet.
  • Make your home safer: Falls are often due to home hazards that are easy to overlook but easy to fix

 For more information about falls prevention go to

How OT Can Help Prevent Falls

Occupational Therapists often addresses fall prevention as an important step towards preventing further injury.  An occupational therapist can support you to carry out activities that you enjoy or want to do safely through:

  • Advice, ideas and equipment
  • Advice to improve strength and balance
  • Support to talk through any fear of falling

OTs manage your underlying fall risk factors and optimize your home design and environment.  In the initial assessment, an OT can assess your home and other places you frequent.  The goal is to be as safe as possible with the tools and measures already in place.  Should further direction be necessary, OTs can organize equipment supply, implement exercise programs, discuss the risks of various daily activities and suggest home modifications.

Here are some examples of how a prior injury may put people at risk for a fall and the steps OTs can take to improve your condition and reduce the risk of further pain

  • Pain medication can make you dizzy, sleepy or nauseous.  An OT may suggest that you sit down while doing activities such as getting dressed or that you use a tall stool instead of standing in the kitchen.
  • Maintaining balance becomes more difficult if you break or fracture an arm.  An OT may help you organize your kitchen so that you don’t have to reach high for dishes or food while your arm heals.
  • Moving with crutches can be challenging when going up and down stairs.  An OT can assess whether you are able to use the stairs safely while on crutches or can make recommendations for room utilization on the main floor until your ability to walk improves.

Learn More

Here are more resources, tools and strategies to protect yourself and those you care about from a fall.  Share these with your loved ones to better ensure health and safety for all.

World OT Day 2018 - October 27

October 27th is World OT Day

October 27th is World Occupational Therapy Day!  OTs make a difference in the lives of many today, here in Canada and around the world.

From its beginnings in treating patients with tuberculosis in the late 1800s, occupational therapy has evolved to help people of all ages to get the most out of life.  Occupational therapists today address neurological events and injuries, mental health problems, injuries due to accidents, childhood conditions, orthopedic conditions, alcohol and substance abuse as well as cumulative trauma injuries.

Occupational therapy is a regulated profession in Canada.

Find out more about World OT Day and the benefits of occupational therapy at

Cooking with friends

October is OT Month: Celebrating Occupational Therapy!

October is National Occupational Therapy Month in Canada.  This is an opportunity to celebrate how occupational therapists make a difference in the lives of those around us.  While supporting and strengthening their clients’ capabilities, OTs help foster independence and their client’s ability to do the things that are important to them.  Whether an individual is struggling to manage tasks at home, ease back into the workplace, or get connected with resources in their community, OTs can provide meaningful care to ensure success.

Here are two examples of how our occupational therapists have helped client’s recovery from injuries and reconnect with the people and activities they enjoy.

(Re)Defining Purpose

After a terrible bike accident, Robert could not work and underwent an unsuccessful surgery that subsequently required him to have a hip replacement.  As an active 30 year old man who enjoyed his physically challenging job, he felt he was missing out on the best years of his life.  When Susan, an occupational therapist with OT Works!, first connected with Robert following a referral from ICBC, he challenged the need for her OT services.

Susan took small steps to help Robert.  Being client-centered, she carefully planned and arranged their first meeting.  She knew to be successful, they needed to focus on what he could do, and build one step at a time.  Susan had to meet Robert where they are at and use meaningful activity to help resume important activities.  She accompanied him to the pool so that he could start swimming again.  They began to go on walks, and over time Robert could walk more often and for a longer duration.  Susan also helped Robert in his home, and in the process he rediscovered his love for cooking.  Susan also connected him with a physiotherapist and kinesiologist who helped make sure that he did not overexert his hip.

By the end of their treatment, Robert returned to work as a longshoreman.  With Susan’s help, he was able to work full-time, fulfilling all the duties his job requires while also pursuing leisure activities important to him.  Not only is Robert rebuilding his endurance again but his employer was confident that he could work independently and efficiently.  Susan’s intervention adopted a multi-disciplinary approach, incorporated meaningful activities, and carefully to graded plans to ease Robert back into the work and hobbies they enjoyed before the injury.

Challenging Oneself

After suffering a fall at home, Isabella became very fearful of getting hurt again.  She could not tolerate much walking and was usually too anxious to leave her apartment.  Her lawyer asked for an occupational therapist’s help.  When Isabella spoke with Janet, an occupational therapist with OT Works!, she told her that “I am not the fun, happy person I used to be.”

Janet was determined to help rebuild Isabella’s confidence.  They set goals and accessed resources about depression and exposure therapy.  Together they determined which strategies could best calm her racing heart rate, shaky hands, and negative thought processes.  Isabella used these strategies to gradually re-engage with activities in the community.  Janet set her up with a walker and a rehab assistant and together they would all walk to the mall; the therapists’ presence relieved anxiety about falling again.  Over the 5 months that they worked together, Isabella was eventually able to walk ahead of Janet by a few steps, then by a block, and eventually they were able to meet at the mall rather than walk there together.

As her treatment with Janet came to an end, Isabella would visit the mall by herself and returned to activities she previously enjoyed such as quilting and preparing meals.  Several months after her discharge, Janet received a surprise text.  Isabella eagerly mentioned that she now walks in her community every day with her daughter or granddaughter and how grateful she is for her occupational therapist helped her accomplish.

By returning Isabella to her pre-injury activities in a relatively short period of time, her lawyer and insurance provider recognized that occupational therapy helped to saves disability costs and prevent future medical concerns from arising.  Janet’s intervention is representative of occupational therapy’s approach to breaking down and managing a variety of barriers – whether they are physical, emotional or cognitive – to effectively empower a client one step at a time.

Ask for OT!

As with Robert and Isabella, OT’s can enliven peoples’ experiences in the home, workplace and community, no matter their reason for seeking treatment.    The Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists is also promoting the “Ask For OT” campaign as part of OT Month this October.  ‘Ask for OT’ coverage, as a part of; from your employer, your insurance provider and/or your union.  If you’d like to see OT services provided by your own workplace health benefits, send a letter to your employer, benefit provider or union.  Or better yet, make a phone call or meet with your employer, insurance provider or union. CAOT has some great ideas to start the conversation.

Did Robert and Isabella’s stories catch your attention?  Learn more about their therapists Susan and Janet and the rest of the OT Works! team.

For more information about what occupational therapy and OT Works! can do for you, give us a call or email us at


Ask for OT from your Employer:

Ask for OT from your Insurer

Ask for OT from your Union

Run for Water – Supporting Community

OT Works! therapists and families joined the 2018 Run for Water in support of clean water projects in Gora Bantu, Ethopia. We had runners in 10k and 5k events having fun and donating to help address the water crisis in Africa.

As OTs we see how physical activity is so important to health and wellbeing. We also appreciate we are fortunate to live and work in Vancouver, were we are blessed with an abundance of fresh, clean water. Sometimes we complain about the rain, but we love it and are grateful for it. These are the reasons we support Run for Water and what this Abbotsford-based, non-profit organization is about:

We believe that running is awesome, inspiring, and often life-changing.
We believe that everyone on this planet should have access to clean water.

All fundraising proceeds go directly to water projects in Africa. And the difference it can make is life-changing. Just $35 provides 1 person in Gora Bantu with access to safe, clean drinking water for life. This year over $450,000 funds were raised.

Previous Run for Water campaigns supported the community of Sasiga, Ethiopia.

Learn more and donate at