Jude Driscoll of Alexandra has greatly contributed to the practice of occupational therapy in Prince Edward Island.
Driscoll, who is originally from Saskatchewan but moved to P.E.I. in 1977, has been practicing occupational therapy in the province for 40 years.
She has worked from West Prince to East Prince, in small hospitals, manors, schools as well as in the community. She has been practicing as a private occupational therapist since 2013.
When she first arrived to the Island, there were 14 registered occupational therapists. There are now 70 registered occupational therapists in P.E.I.
“Occupational therapy is for people with a short term or long term disability,” said Driscoll. “We work with doctors and nurses all the time. They are looking to optimize health and we are looking optimize function.”
What is occupational therapy?
Occupational therapy is used to help people with short and long term disabilities. It is a type of health care that helps to solve the problems that interfere with a person’s ability to do the things that are important to them – everyday things like:
- Self-care - getting dressed, eating, moving around the house
- Being productive - going to work or school, participating in the community
- Leisure activities - sports, gardening and social activities
Occupational therapy can also prevent a problem or minimize its effects.
Driscoll recently decided to retire after more than four decades in the industry and is happy to pass the torch to new graduates who are beginning their careers.
She graduated from the University of Alberta in 1975. She went on to work at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario for two years before moving to P.E.I.
Driscoll says she got into this profession for personal reasons.
Her brother was hydrocephalic, meaning fluid on the brain, and her parents were at a loss of how to help their son. He later died when he was only three years old.
“When you have someone who is not able to thrive, they need a lot more rehab supports for comfort and safety,” said Driscoll. “(Occupational therapists) help people help themselves and instead of feeling helpless, which they did, I went to school and learned a whole lot about helping people.”
Her contributions include helping thousands of Islanders with their function needs, in addition to writing a report for the federal government, between 1977-1979, to illustrate the value of integrated services in P.E.I.
She also did a six-month study in 1999 for the P.E.I. Occupational Health and Safety Division of the Workers Compensation Board of P.E.I. on injury prevention in the P.E.I. health care section.
This study resulted in hospitals and nursing homes acquiring ceiling lifts, therefore reducing back and shoulder injury for caregivers.
Another proud moment includes an article she wrote for the Clinical OT Journal, OT Now in Nov. 2014 entitled ‘Executive function and occupational therapy: Lessons drawn from the literature and lived experience with 22q.11.2 deletion syndrome’.
As she wraps up her career, she has many reflections about her time as an occupational therapist.
These include having the opportunity to have input on program development over the years and having contributed to systemic change.
“The thing that really has inspired me is always exploring where else can OT contribute to helping people help themselves.”
However most of all, she says she has enjoyed working with her clients who demonstrated determination and courage as well as the family and community organizations who rallied behind their loved ones.
“The beauty is seeing them go from the struggle, and it is a struggle… to their family and their supports seeing them thrive, and that is the true joy.”
Driscoll says she plans to spend retirement learning Spanish, travelling and dancing.