A New Series: Faces of Occupational Therapy

NJOTA Newletter

Volume V Issue 5

Gregg Frank has been an occupational therapist for twenty years. He graduated from Boston University with a BS in OT in 1989 and has been working as an OT since that time. Two and a half years ago, while working in an outpatient practice, he started to do many home modification evaluations for insurance companies. The clients of these insurance companies were in rehabilitation after traumatic accidents and could not return to their homes without accessible bathrooms, stair-lifts, ramps, etc.

It was his job to make it possible for them to return home, and that meant suggesting modifications for their homes. He found that it was very difficult to find contractors to execute the plans in a manner that would be functional, and it was also a huge undertaking for the insurance companies. Since Gregg had an interest and some experience in construction, he went with his instinct and went after his dream, and opened a construction company called Back Home Safely.

The company specializes in home safety and accessibility modifications. Together with his wife, Karen, who is a physical therapist, they manage the company out of their home in Randolph New Jersey. They have found that their experience as therapists gives them a better perspective in choosing the most appropriate modifications for these clients then a general contractor would. The majority of their clients reside in the central to northern part of NJ, but they have had clients in PA, NY and southern NJ.

Gregg’s typical day starts out at a construction supply yard. Together with his staff of carpenters, trucks are loaded up with the lumber, stair-rail, screws, and tools that they will need for the day. A trailer is also stocked with grab bars, tub seats, bed rails, hand held showerheads, ramp materials, and other “OT gear”.

Then Gregg and his team head out to a client’s home. Once his crew is set up and Gregg has instructed them on the modifications to be completed for that day’s work, Gregg may leave the site. After getting a referral for his services, Gregg will go to hospitals and rehab centers to meet with potential clients and their therapists. He usually reviews photos of the clients’ home with the rehab staff in order to develop a safer, accurate, and functional plan for discharge to home after his services.

Gregg says that the most exciting part of his day is when a client who has been in a hospital for weeks or even months returns home for the first time. He enjoys knowing that he had a part in that return to home journey.

Gregg also spends time meeting with clients and their families who are already at their homes. He says that he is contacted because these individuals may have begun having difficulties, whether it is negotiating around their home or specific issues like getting in or out of the bathtubs.

They know that they need to do something, but are unsure of where start. Gregg and his team will recommend options and then complete what modifications may be in the client’s best interest. They try to give the clients the most cost effective and safest options.

When the OT/construction part of Gregg’s day comes to an end, he usually returns home to spend some time with family before retreating into his home office to spend a few hours on his computer. He will answer emails, document what went on during the day, and also manage the business aspect of the company.

In five years Gregg hopes to continue managing and expanding his company “Back Home Safely.” He hopes to be able to achieve safe and accessible homes for as many individuals as possible.

Gregg is an inspiration to all occupational therapist for he truly encompasses the spirit of occupational therapy.

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