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

Simple Food Preparation- Preparing a Hot Beverage

Simple Food Preparation- Preparing a Hot Beverage

I work in a skilled nursing facility. While I highly value completing a food preparation task with each client before they discharge home, there are several practical constraints I must consider. For example, I may be concerned about a client’s safety with a knife or with hot surfaces. I also have to consider the time various foods require to prepare, what ingredients are readily available, the budget for each task, and the equipment I have available.

When I don’t have concerns about a client’s safety preparing a hot item but I have limited time, I like to ask clients to prepare a hot beverage. I work in a skilled nursing facility that has a hot drink station. We have hot water and coffee in insulated canisters. We also have hot chocolate packages, a variety of tea bags, and cream and sweeteners available. This makes for a quick and easy intervention. When I want the task to be more difficulty, I have a coffee maker and kettle in our therapy gym that the client’s can use.


Assess and develop executive functioning skills


Great for 1:1 treatment – Good for Concurrent/Group treatment for clients

Time Frame

10-15 minutes

Materials Required

  • Coffee cups or mugs
  • Spoons or stirring sticks
  • Stovetop and tea kettle, electric kettle, coffee maker, or microwave
  • Coffee grounds, coffee filter, or instant coffee; tea bags; hot chocolate mix
  • Cream, sugar, artificial sweetener, and honey
  • Hot pads
  • A work space such as a counter or table
  • Written recipes (preferably in large print) for each beverage available for the client to prepare


  • Clarify client’s dietary restrictions including texture (thin-, nectar-, or honey-thick) and medical (diabetic, renal, cardiac, etc.)


  1. Ask the client to select a hot beverage to prepare for themselves.
  2. Ensure that the client washes their hands and sanitizes the work area prior to beginning. If client does not initiate hygiene, direct client to complete tasks.
  3. Ask the client to identify the items they will need to prepare the food, including ingredients, cups, spoons, etc. Cue the client to create a list if needed to aid in their ability to recall.
  4. Direct the client to locate all necessary items and place them on the counter or table.
  5. Ask the client to verbally explain to you the steps for preparing the food item they selected or to read aloud the recipe/instructions if needed.
  6. Review safety for handling hot items including using a hot pad.
  7. Direct the client to prepare the beverage. Provide verbal cues and physical assistance if necessary but allow client to complete activity as independently as possible.
  8. Allow the client to drink the beverage prepared.  

Special Notes

It is recommended to allow the client to choose from at least two options when selecting the beverage item to prepare however the therapist may wish to provide only one food item if the client has significant dietary restrictions.

You may ask the client to prepare a beverage for you to drink, or you may prepare a beverage for yourself concurrently.

It is recommended that this activity be completed as a 1:1 intervention when the client is handling hot items for the first time during therapy so that the therapist can mediate safety concerns if they arise.

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