Employee Spotlight: Sheila Butcher, Occupational Therapist

Employee Spotlight: Sheila Butcher, Occupational Therapist

Sheila Butcher, M.S., OTR/L, Allied Services Home Health

There are plenty of misconceptions about occupational therapy as a profession. The most common is that occupational therapists help you get a job. Wrong! Occupational therapy is the only profession that helps people across the lifespan to do the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of daily activities (occupations). Occupational therapy practitioners enable people of all ages to live life to its fullest by helping them promote health, and prevent—or live better with—injury, illness, or disability.

At a young age, Sheila Butcher had already grasped the concept. She broke both arms one summer and had to have 2 casts. Overnight, Sheila was forced to learn new ways of performing everyday tasks like brushing her teeth, getting dressed, eating and so much more.

Fast forward to the present day and Sheila is an experienced occupational therapist assisting patients in their homes as part of the care team at Allied Services Home Health.

Sheila began her career at Allied Services as an aide. She worked with occupational therapists and patients at Heinz Rehab Hospital in Wilkes-Barre during the summer throughout her college years. Shortly after graduating from Misericordia University in 1999, she became an Occupational Therapist at Heinz Rehab Hospital.

"I was inspired to become an occupational therapist (OT) by my neighbor who was an OT. Growing up I loved hearing about her work and was eventually able to observe her working with children. I wanted to follow that path."

Sheila worked at Heinz Rehab Hospital for 5 years before moving to the Philadelphia suburbs.

"In my time away from Allied Services I served in various clinical and management roles including those in skilled nursing, home health care, and more recently with a company that focused primarily on geriatric outpatient house calls."

Working in a home health setting is very different than a hospital or other clinical settings. Home health therapists often find themselves without complex rehabilitation equipment or aides to help while adapting to the patient's environment.

“You find yourself being very creative in order to accomplish what needs to be done for the patient to achieve their goals. The trunk of your car gets filled up quickly with all sorts of gadgets and activities!”

During her 21 years in the profession, Sheila has worked with patients of all ages. She found working with patients with dementia or brain injuries the most challenging and rewarding.

"'I've enjoyed working with this population of people and their family members the most! Being able to impact their day to day routine and improve their function with meaningful and tangible activities is rewarding. It is the small accomplishments during our sessions that create big moments for these people. In the end, I always end up learning from them!"

Today, Sheila and the rest of the Home Health team have the added challenge of providing care during a pandemic. Sheila knows that for many patients who are isolated at home, her visits are even more significant now.

"Of course, patients are worried about leaving home for care. We're a welcome face to patients and their families. They are thankful we can visit them in the comfort of their own home with the goal of remaining out of the hospital. Of course, it doesn’t go without concern however, our administrative team, clinical managers, and therapists have been informative and concerned for the safety of our staff in the field. They are always updating us regarding regulations and they provide the necessary equipment required to be able to complete our jobs as safely as possible."

At the end of the day, Sheila returns home to her husband, Paul, their daughters, Cali Grace and Kaitlyn Rose, and Golden Retriever puppy, Bear. She relaxes by baking with her girls, hiking at Frances Slocum State Park, and watching Fixer Upper.

Thank you, Sheila, and all of the members of Allied Services Home Health, for serving our patients.