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Meaningful Occupations: “Car Guys Club!”

By Sarah Scott, DOR, Draper Rehabilitation and Care, Draper, UT

The Abilities Care Program, with its focus on Can Do, May Do, and Will Do is beautifully simple. Who are they? What can they do? What are the problems? What do we need to do? What have they done? What would they want to do based on those pieces of information, and how are we going to support them to do it?

The answer to those questions is leading to many exciting programs at Draper Rehab. We have several “car guys” who reside here. We have some car magazines and motorcycle books that are briefly engaging, but for hours they are left with little to do. They are not interested in bingo, coloring, word searches, or games. Ask our “car guys” what they want to do or used to do, and they will tell you “work on engines” or “tinker in the garage.” How can we support meaningful occupation there?

I was discussing this need with a community acquaintance and retired BYU professor, Carl Harris. He mentioned he “might just have the thing.” He had created a hands-on learning tool for his grandchildren and other students in their third grade classroom. He disassembled a lawn mower engine, painted nuts with corresponding holes, and created a board that was color-coded to help organize and store removed bolts and tools. He donated this engine to us with step-by-step pictures for each step of assembly and disassembly.

Our “car guys” are now “happy campers.” One gentleman looked up at me and reverently exhaled, “I could do this all day.” He is, in fact, doing it much of the day and has not tired of it. It is amazing to see procedural and muscle memory for learned and loved skills in action years later. In addition to knowing how to complete the task, he could name all the parts: craft shank, piston, rod cap, engine head, engine block, cylinder casing, etc. This gentleman struggles with expressive speech and word recall, but not with these words. They are loved words for a loved task.

What are your residents’ meaningful occupations? The only way to know is to ask. Abilities Care unlocks this box, and the result is so fun. “I could do this all day.”

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