Empowering occupational therapy practitioners with a playbook of functional tasks to use with their geriatric clients

Setting Up a Doctor’s Appointment

Setting Up a Doctor’s Appointment

When I was a new therapist, I spent a lot of time studying. I read through my textbooks and class notes with a new appreciation and understanding because I could apply them to my caseload. I looked up published research to understand what best practices were. I spent time finding experts in the field and trying to do what they recommended. I also had my manager and colleagues giving me suggestions of things I should do. The thing that frustrated me with all of these sources of information is that I was finding out what I should be doing, but I received very little direction about how I was to accomplish it.

Over time, I learned that some best practices I should be following were helping clients set up a doctor’s appointment prior to discharge and working to develop executive functioning skills and practice compensatory techniques during functional tasks. This play is an example of how I tried to answer the question, “What would that look like in a therapy session?”


Assess and develop cognition skills including attention, planning, organization, and memory (or use of memory strategies)


Great for 1:1 intervention

Time Frame

5-10 minutes

Materials Required

  • Telephone – can be client’s cell phone
  • Client’s contact list (electronic or paper)
  • Phone book, smart phone, tablet, or computer for looking up phone number
  • Calendar
  • Paper and pen or pencil


  • If client is a resident of a SNF, clarify client’s discharge date


  1. Review with client medical concerns and needs such as prescription refills, concerns about pain, changes in functioning, changes in cognition, etc. Encourage client to create a list of these concerns and needs to take with them to their appointment.
  2. Clarify time frame during which appointment must be scheduled. Assist client to consider discharge date (if client is a resident of a SNF), when they will need prescriptions refilled, and medical urgency of concerns.
  3. Ask the client to identify the name of their primary care provider and their phone number, using a phone book or electronic device to obtain the phone number as needed. Assist client in obtaining this information if they are unable to do so.
  4. Direct client to place phone call. Assess client’s progress as call proceeds and assist client if needed to convey needed information and request an appointment time.
  5. Encourage client to write down the date and time of the appointment their calendar.

Special Notes

This activity is great to complete with clients in a SNF setting when the client is preparing to discharge home. Most clients in this setting are encouraged to see their primary care provider within 2 weeks of discharge to obtain prescriptions.

When placing call, therapist may direct client to use the speakerphone feature so that the therapist able to hear both sides of the conversation and assist if needed.

If client utilizes a memory book, consider using the memory book as part of this intervention. For example, have client record appointment on calendar in memory book. If client does not have a section for questions for their doctor, create one and put the list developed in the first step into this section. The therapist may also encourage the client to keep the name and contact information of their medical providers in a section in the memory book.

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