What to expect of an Occupational Therapy Assessment 

An occupational therapy assessment is an important first step in your recovery journey. That’s when your OT will understand where you’re at, what you are struggling with, and where you want to go next. It also helps the OT justify funding for treatment services, if needed, and develop a safe, effective treatment plan. 
Our dedicated Occupational Therapists (OTs) are committed to providing you with individualized, meaningful, and creative ways to support your recovery journey. 
Recovering from an injury is hard, but getting back to the activities you love is worth it! 

Occupational Therapists are unique 

OTs are university-trained, certified, and regulated by the College of Occupational Therapists of British Columbia (COTBC).   

What sets OTs apart is their holistic approach to your needs. Unlike other professions that focus on either physical or emotional parts of your injury, OTs consider physical, cognitive, emotional, cultural and environmental factors to ensure that your recovery is safe, meaningful and effective. They also focus and build upon your strengths and priorities. 

OTs meet you in real-life environments: at your home, workplace, and community settings, ensuring that the treatment aligns with your reality and daily life and has real impact. 

Occupational Therapy can help in a variety of situations, including but not limited to: 

  • Home safety  
  • Ergonomics 
  • Activation 
  • Mood management 
  • Concussion rehabilitation 
  • Community access 
  • Return to work 

Our OTs help you getting better and improving your quality of life. 
Our OTs have experience in providing OT treatment for physical injuries, mental health concerns, and brain injuries. They are passionate about delivering quality treatments tailored to your unique needs.  

What to expect from your OT assessment 

When someone requests the help of our OTs, we get any necessary medical information to ensure a safe assessment, and we choose an occupational therapist with the right skill set and approach to assist you. However, the OT assessment primarily involves an in-person meeting with you.  

Some important information about the assessment: 

  • Location: Most assessments occur at your home, but may also occur at your workplace, or somewhere else in your community, depending on what is being assessed. Some specialized assessments may be conducted at our clinic in New Westminster. 
  • Duration: Typically, 2-3 hours. 
  • Components: Review of what to expect, risks and benefits (consent), an interview, observations of your daily activities, and standardized tests or questionnaires. 

Your therapist will be on time, and treat you with respect, care, professionalism, and courtesy throughout the assessment. There is no judgement, nor expectation that you clean or prepare refreshments ahead of time. 

If you anticipate being at all uncomfortable, just let your therapist know in advance, and invite a friend or family member to attend with you. 

We expect that you provide more than 24 hours’ notice if you need to change the assessment time.  

Getting ready for your OT assessment 

Preparing for your assessment is easy: 

  • Gather Information: Relevant medical details, recent test results, and current medications. 
  • Review Daily Activities: Consider your daily routine and note areas of difficulty. 
  • Communicate: Share your goals, concerns, and relevant information during the assessment. Ask lots of questions. 
  • Wear Comfortable Clothing: Choose clothes that allows for easy movement.  
  • Be ready to “do”: the OT may ask you to show how you do certain tasks (or portions of tasks) around the house, such as sweeping, making the bed, working on the computer or emptying the dishwasher. You will not be asked to do anything that is unsafe, and the OT will provide tips and strategies to make things easier on you, right away. 

Collaborative Plan for Treatment 

Before completing the assessment, the OT will briefly review their findings, explore your personal, functional goals, and review possible treatments for feedback. Examples of what an OT may recommend could include: equipment, learning and practicing techniques or strategies, grading tasks (gradually making them more challenging), homework between sessions and/or referral to other health care professionals. 

At OT Works!, our therapists take a collaborative approach. We listen to you, design treatment plans, and set goals with your input to ensure that your recovery is not only meaningful but also appropriate to your situation. 

We communicate directly using your preferred method, welcoming feedback to enhance each client’s experience. 

What happens after the OT assessment 

Confidential Report 

The OT prepares a comprehensive report detailing functional strengths, difficulties and treatment recommendations. With your consent, this report can be shared with medical providers and funding parties.  


If OT treatment services are recommended, the plan and goals are shared with the funder for approval (whether that’s an insurance representative, family member or other party). Ideally, occupational therapy treatment is approved and initiated within one week of the in-person assessment. Sometimes the OT will set up your first treatment session, as they leave the assessment, in anticipation of this.  

However, there can sometimes be delays in obtaining approval. Your therapist will keep you updated on the process if this is the case and will advocate for service on your behalf. They also may provide you with some activities or strategies to get started with, on your own, if appropriate and safe, to facilitate an early recovery. 

Once treatment is underway, your engagement, motivation and feedback will help pave the way to a new you, and the meaningful life you seek. 

Contact us for your Occupational Therapy assessment 

If you or someone you know could benefit from an occupational therapy assessment, don’t hesitate to contact us today! 

Email: referrals@ot-works.com 
Vancouver: 604.696.1066 
Victoria: 250.999.8896 

Occupational Therapy Initial Assessment

OT Assessment: What to Expect

Getting Started with an Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapists are client-centered problem solvers.  With an OT’s help, clients can increase their ability to take care of themselves, be productive, and enjoy what their homes and communities have to offer.

Occupational therapy begins with a thorough assessment to identify a client’s current abilities and how to maximize their functioning so that they can achieve their personal goals. OTs check their client’s physical, cognitive and emotional abilities and explore any assistive devices, social supports and environmental setups they have or need.

When to Refer to an OT

If a person shows a decrease in daily function, an OT assessment can determine if occupational therapy is right for them.  The Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT) suggest an assessment may be helpful if a person has had an accident or a change in health status and shows any of these signs:

  • They have not returned to work, school, volunteering or other pre-accident roles.
  • They struggle to care for themselves, their family or their home.
  • Despite other treatments, they are still recovering slowly or not at all.

Initial assessments are also beneficial for insurers who request our OTs’ help.  An OT’s observations and recommendations provide clarification for the insurer so that they can arrange funding and coordinate treatment providers. An assessment is particularly useful to determine how a person participates in activities of daily living (ADLs) and how those activities are affected by the injury at hand.

What happens with an OT Assessment?

An OT assessment is a process that usually involves an in-person meeting and a written report.  During the assessment, the therapist will typically:

  • Gain an understanding of the client’s pre-injury status.  How did the client engage in activities before their function decreased?
  • Observe the client doing functional tasks in their real environment(s), as well as standardized testing.  What are the physical, cognitive and emotional barriers affecting the client’s ability to engage in daily activities as before?  What physical, emotional and social supports does the client have in the home, at work or in their community?
  • Develop a collaborative plan for treatment.  What specific skills or supports require improvement?  Is education or ongoing treatment necessary?  How does the treatment plan reflect the client’s specific needs and goals as well as current medical research?
  • Write a report for the insurer and other health providersWhat information would other parties benefit from knowing about the client’s situation?  What objective, measurable goals will help a client to their pre-injury function?

Different Kinds of OT Assessments

OT assessments vary depending on the nature of the referral (also known as the “referral question”), the environment for the assessment and the needs of the client.  Here are some examples of assessments with a specific focus.

  • Hospital Discharge Planning – assess the need for adaptive equipment, home modifications or home support services such as cleaning services or a care aide when a client may be unsafe upon returning home after hospitalization.
  • Cognitive Rehabilitation – if the client has experienced a concussion or traumatic brain injury due to the accident, or reports changes in thinking due to a mental health condition, an OT can assess those specific changes.  In particular, they assess attention, memory, information processing, and executive function (such as planning).
  • Ergonomic Assessment – sometimes an injury doesn’t prevent the client from returning to work but they experience ongoing or increasing symptoms while at work.  In this case, an OT assesses the desk, chair and computer set up, particularly to prevent shoulder, neck, back, hip and wrist pain.
  • Return-to-Work Planning – if the client cannot return to work due to their injuries, an OT can liaise with their employer to develop a step-by-step plan that gradually reintroduces the client back into their pre-injury worker role.  OTs also determine if and how activities, tasks and work roles can be modified in the short or long-term, when medically required.

Where does it take place?

The initial assessment can occur at the client’s home, in their community, or at their workplace.  Some also take place in hospitals, clinics or community health centers.  Our OTs work in their community.  They come to the client to assess their function “in vivo”, which means where they spend most of their time.  Our OTs see clients in Greater Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and the Sea-to-Sky area (Squamish, Whistler, Pemberton).  We also serve clients on the Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island.

What do you get from an OT assessment?

Once an assessment is complete, the client and their insurer can review the OT’s recommendations, often as a report.  If medically supported and advised, the OT may recommend further follow-up meetings for continued OT treatment.

Some clients start OT already knowing they would benefit from ongoing treatment.  For instance, return-to-work planning may require monitoring as an OT’s presence can assist a client as they gradually ease back into their routine.  Other clients and fee-payers may be unsure whether longer treatment options are necessary.  Nonetheless, an initial assessment is a good place to start and provides professional expertise to determine how to move forward.

How can OT Works! help?

Our occupational therapists are experienced with a wide range of assessments and tools.  They have developed unique, client-centered treatment plans that have helped hundreds of people return to their pre-injury status and make the best of their situations. 

All of our OTs are university-trained and certified by the College of Occupational Therapists of British Columbia (COTBC).  Many of our OTs have additional training in physical OT treatment, mental health, and goal-planning, to name a few.  They enjoy working with a variety of insurance providers including ICBC, WorkSafe BC, Pacific Blue Cross, and Great West Life.  Our therapists know what steps to take to ensure all parties are content with the outcome of the assessment.

Contact us today if you or your client could benefit from an OT assessment.  We would be happy to discuss your needs or answer any question you may have.

Email:  referrals@ot-works.com

Phone:  604.696.1066 ext. 1000.