Wanting to get creative and provide meaningful, occupation based OT treatments to your patients while they are in isolation?

In Room Treatment Ideas for OT

In room treatment ideas for OT is a hot topic right now with everything going on in the world - everyone is isolated, feeling the effects of social distancing and working with limited supplies.
So many questions circulating -
How long is this going to last?
How can I protect my self and my patients?
Can I still help my patients achieve their goals in isolation?
But one of the biggest questions I have been getting is...

Do you have any ideas for in room treatment ideas?

So this month, I am going to share some treatment ideas that you can do with your patients while they are on isolation and discuss how to make sure our goals continue to reflect achievable, client centered outcomes.

Not only are in-room treatments a challenge for you as a clinician, but is difficult for our patients as well.

It is our job to not only help them achieve their goals, but bring care, compassion and use our therapeutic use of self to help our patient's through isolation. 

It can definitely be hard when our patient rooms commonly look like this.
In room treatment ideas for OT

Pic via Northstar Commercial Construction LLC


Not a lot of supplies.

No "equipment."

But this is where OT can ✨ shine✨ as we are experts in being occupation based!

Evaluation and Goal Writing (for when it's inevitable that we will be completing in room treatments)

Even though we will be completing our evaluations and goals with our patients in isolation. Do we need to alter the plan of care since our treatments will be done completely in-room?

No way!

We need to continue to complete comprehensive evaluations using the OTPF guidelines, an occupational profile, good interviewing skills and outcome measures where appropriate.
Instead of adapting our evaluations to fit our current treatment limitations, we need to increase our creativity, use our activity analysis skills and meet the needs of our patients first. Using the outcome measures are of upmost value these days to ensure that we are creating a plan of care that is measurable and client centered.
If this is difficult for you, one great resource is the OT Goal Writing and Goal Bank Guide ebook, which breaks down each section of a "comprehensive" goal, gives examples and helps you write rock solid goals. This will also make treatment planning and daily intervention so much easier since your POC is clear and client directed (including those in-room treatments!)
Wanting to get creative and provide meaningful, occupation based OT treatments to your patients while they are in isolation? Here is a list!
Depending on what you can/cannot take into the patient's room, what setting you work in and what are the goals your patient needs to work on in order to achieve their goals (YEA for activity analysis skills!), here are a few isolation-worthy treatment examples...
Hidden Content

ADL/IADL In Room Treatment Ideas

  • ADLs
    • actually do the tasks of bathing, dressing, make up, shave, shoes, etc
  • Washing hands and proper hygiene
  • Transfers (to and from bed, toilet, chair, wheelchair, etc with walker, transfer pole, sliding board, etc)
  • Disinfect surfaces such as tables, doorknobs, remote controls, drawer pulls, walker, wheelchair, etc
  • Wheelchair training
  • Reorganize the closet/drawers
  • Fold laundry
  • Painting nails
  • Nail care: could even use old toothbrush to
  • Tidy up the room
  • Make the bed/change pillow cases/strip bed
  • Replace water in water bottle/cup
  • Bed mobility: up and down bed, as well as in and out depending on ability or what side they get in and out of at home
  • Scooting up and down the edge of the bed (left and right)
  • Access/use remote controls and call buttons
  • Replace water in water bottle

Games/Activities for In Room Treatments That Address Performance Components

  • Scavenger hunt in the room with/without reacher - hiding some of their own items in their bathrooms, closets, drawers to get them moving around their room and dynamic reaching, balance, etc
  • Obstacle course (with walker, sit to stand at EOB 3x, side step between chair and bed, go around the chair, walk down to end of room, come back, use reacher to pick up washcloth on floor, and start over, etc)
  • Crumple up paper and shoot into trashcan
  • Yoga
  • Tai Chi
  • Zumba
  • Dancing - anything guided: cha cha slide, macarana, etc
  • Shaving cream on mirror to clean/games/have fun in!
  • Good 'ol general exercise
  • Dry erase markers on mirrors/windows - games, or even pictures, drawings or sayings of inspiration/hope/springtime
  • Integrating "power ups" into transfers and ADL (Learning Lab member exclusive treatment video)
  • Post-it notes: games like wall sized tic tac toe or even visual scanning or safety during mobility training with a scavenger hunt
  • Origami
  • Put bean bags from the therapy gym in ziplocks and play games like "corn hole" with tape on the floor
  • Edema management
  • Seating and positioning
  • Stained glass windows - painters tape in geometric designs on window/glass, paint different colors in each section and then remove the tape
  • Eye spy for visual scanning
  • Write letters to loved ones
  • Wringing out washcloths


  • Discharge planning
  • Precaution education
  • Chronic health management
  • Home safety
  • Skin integrity
  • Splint use
  • Use of smart phones to connect with family/contact emergency services
  • Oxygen cord management
  • Continence management
  • Catheter management
  • Fall prevention
  • Pursed lip/Diaphragmatic breathing
  • Pacing
  • Energy conservation
  • Diabetic foot checks
  • Training in using elbow for cough
I know of some facilities that were able to do zoom with people in other rooms for a "group" activity like chair yoga.
Use those motivational interviewing skills to really dig into what they want and need to be able to do, what their goals are and their concerns.
Hidden Content
What else would you add to this list?

Comments 11

  1. This is such a big help due to our patients have to be quarantined for 10-14 days depending on if they’re vaccinated.

  2. Thank you Seniors Flourish for this excellent and helpful blog. One in-room treatment suggestion is to create a custom greeting card to give to a family member, friend, or fellow patient. The task can be graded to allow for various therapeutic outcomes. Here are some examples:

    To address mobility: Place the required items to make the card in various places within the room & teach them safe retrieval and use of any assistive devices recommended.
    To address fine motor skills: Vary the types of material to either challenge fine motor skills or compensate if they are unable to do certain parts of the task (for example, pre-cut shapes if they cannot use a scissor).
    To address cognitive skills: Provide multi-sensory cues for sequencing, following directions, etc.
    To address strengthening: Provide materials that are harder cut with the scissor, thus requiring more strength. Encourage some of the materials to be torn with their hands to work on pinch strength.
    I look forward to more helpful blogs and tips on this website. Laurie

    1. Post
  3. Thank you so much for this post! I appreciate your suggestions for in-room treatment ideas. These are a great source of inspiration to me as a fellow occupational therapist in a skilled nursing setting. During the Covid-19 pandemic we have all had to get creative and return to our occupation-based roots. The ideas you share are ingenious, inexpensive, easy to implement, and fun. I am eager to try some of them and vary what I have been doing with my patients. If I may suggest another idea, I have purchased small puzzles and games from the dollar store, as well as crossword puzzle and word search books, and brought them to my patients in their rooms for us to do together. That way we can work on occupation-based activities that can just stay in the patient’s room and don’t need to be cleaned and disinfected for use with another person. Does anyone else have any other ideas they are using for in room activities with their patients?

  4. Pingback: Helping Our Patients In Social Isolation | Seniors Flourish

    1. Post
    1. Post
    1. Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.