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Therapy Bonus Points Provide Patients and Staff a Visual Reminder of ProgressPublished: Aug. 5, 2022
About three years ago, KC Humphrey, OTL/R, an occupational therapist at Methodist Hospital, wanted to find a way to help motivate her patients and recognize them for completing therapy tasks.
While looking for something to help them remember their accomplishments, she found a certificate template online and created her own Therapy Bonus Points certificate. She proceeded to print out multiple copies and started handing them out periodically when patients completed difficult tasks or needed a pick-me-up.
“It’s definitely something we’ve started using more lately,” Humphrey said. “It’s just a great way to recognize the positive things that are going on.”
Humphrey said there are plenty of high-fives and fist bumps after a patient check items off their therapy list, but she wanted something more impactful.
“This is like a high-five that they can put on their wall, look at and have everyone else recognize the great work they did.”
Humphrey admits that Therapy Bonus Points feel like something you’d give out to kids at a day camp, and there’s no rhyme or reason for the amount of points awarded. But they’re met with an “awesome response.”
“I’d say 100% of the time people really like them, so it’s a pretty cool thing to do.”
When a patient accomplishes a specific task, Humphrey will pull out a certificate from her clipboard, write the patient’s name on it and present it to them as a keepsake. The certificate usually ends up on the wall of a patient’s room for everyone to see.
Shelbi Hatfield, PT, DPT, discovered Therapy Bonus Points when working with Humphrey at the hospital. She believes the certificates are helpful for patients who are having a down day or seem unmotivated to accomplish therapy.
“A lot of patients that are in the hospital don’t really want to get up and move,” Hatfield said. “So sometimes seeing these points on the board or even just a blank piece of paper saying that they did something good for the day, and they see how excited we are about it, which gets them a little more motivated to try and get up and do more or repeat what they did the day before.”
Humphrey and Hatfield agree that it helps even more if nurses or doctors know about the bonus points.
“When they walk in the room and see the certificate, they get excited, and they spread that excitement to those patients,” Hatfield said. “And everyone in the room ends up being a lot happier about being there.”
Rachel Tipton, RN, a nurse in the Progressive Care Unit at Methodist Hospital, likes to use bonus points as a talking point for patients who aren’t motivated.
“I want to empower and challenge my patients to be as independent as possible," Tipton said. "It can be easy to develop a learned helplessness mentality. The bonus points are a great way for my patient to visualize their progress by seeing what they've accomplished thus far. I tell them, 'Yes, you can. It's up here. We can see it. You can see it. Let's keep pushing for independence.'"
Hatfield said the Therapy Bonus Points benefit both the patient and therapist.
“It’s pretty simple for me to write some things on a paper and put that up on a wall,” she said. “But if a patient sees it and they want to do more to get even more points or want to do more to get more recognition, then that benefits me as a physical therapist because we’re able to progress what the patient’s able to do, get them stronger and get them back to those things that they love and enjoy.”
Humphrey hopes to see the bonus points used by more therapists, which is why she’s working to help bolster the program. She hopes to have Methodist-branded certificates available at nearly every work station at the hospital.
“It’s such a great tool for encouragement that I hope it’s more accessible,” Humphrey said. “Therapists use a lot of tools, and this is just a tool to help encourage people.”
Hatfield isn’t surprised that Humphrey is taking the initiative to expand Therapy Bonus Points.
“I think her being a leader with this is going to be nothing short of amazing,” Hatfield said. “And I think she’s going to help it take off. I truly think that out of everything she does, this is just one more piece that will help patients get better.”
Tipton knows how hard that Humphrey and Hatfield work, and providing the points is just another example of how much they care about patients’ improvement.
“I know my patients are receiving the best PT/OT when KC and Shelbi are working with them," Tipton said. "They consistently go above and beyond to meet the patients' needs and encourage them to be as independent as possible. I love that they also communicate with the nurses and CNAs on what was done for the patient and what we can do as a team to continue to reach our patients' goals."
- Learn more about occupational therapy and physical therapy services offered at Methodist.
- Read more Inspiring Stories in the Methodist Newsroom.
- Read about how occupational therapists combine compassion and creativity.