Homelessness: Application

OT Role Fulfillment 

The application of OT with the homeless population can be done through a variety of roles and approaches. Below are some examples and ideas to help you envision just a few of the possibilities. 


  • Compose articles or create educational resources and submit to OT websites, magazines, or journals
  • Include the topic of homelessness in your OT blog or podcast
  • Host healthcare competency event on homelessness within your department to highlight the population's specific needs
  • Share/disperse resources on social media platforms or at your facility to provide information regarding homelessness matters


  • Provide information on the needs of the homeless population to students as a fieldwork educator or professor
  • Provide guidance to students on how to navigate a non-traditional community-based practice area
  • Educate on grant writing specific to OT and a community setting to better prepare students


  • Create your own consulting business to serve the homeless population
  • Create your own business as a mobile OT service provider and conduct outreach for the homeless population
  • Create and sell a toolkit for OT practitioners with resources regarding the treatment of homeless individuals
  • Create and sell an educational phone/tablet application for OT's
  • Write and sell a book on the homeless population and OT application

Leader / Administration

  • Become a leader with AOTA or your state association who focuses on matters related to the homeless population
  • Present at national, state, or local conferences on the unique needs of the homeless population
  • Identify gaps in services for the homeless population at your organization and address them
  • Create resources that are specific to the homeless population to improve carryover upon discharge

Policy Developer

  • Propose and advocate for OT services inclusion within federal grants at local community centers serving the homeless population
  • Propose and advocate for OT's recognition as a qualified mental health provider in your state (if not already)
  • Support and promote legislation that supports positive occupational engagement for the homeless community


  • Conduct research while practicing as a consultant at a local organization with the homeless population
  • Conduct a national research project to identify the current practices and applications of OT services
  • Conduct research with the homeless population to identify common unmet needs for all realms of health and wellness (gaps in service)


  • Lead life skills groups at your local homeless shelter, transitional housing facility, or drop-in center
  • Consult organization's that currently serve the homeless population to help them better meet the population's needs
  • Lead educational trainings for existing staff at your local homeless shelter, transitional housing facility, or drop-in center to maximize services and minimize challenges
  • See treatment ideas below 

Direct Service Provider

  • Provide resources that are specific to the homeless population to improve carryover upon discharge (such as information on bed mobility from the floor, donning/doffing clothing from the floor, etc.)
  • Practice occupations that the client specifically reports participating in (setting up a temporary shelter, using public transportation, etc.)
  • Conduct assessments and facilitate skill development in a one-on-one approach 
  • See treatment ideas below 

Suggested Frameworks & Models 

  • Biomechanical Model 
  • Ecology of Human Performance
  • MOHO
  • Person-Environment-Occupation Model (PEO)
  • Person-Environment-Occupation-Performance Model (PEOP)

Suggested Assessments

  • Activity Card Sort
  • Activity Index
  • Adolescent Leisure Interest Profile
  • Adolescent/Adult Sensory Profile
  • Assessment of Living Skills and Resources-Revised 2 (ALSAR-R2)
  • Assessment of Motor and Process Skills (AMPS)
  • Barthel Index
  • Battelle Developmental Inventory
  • Bay Area Functional Performance Evaluation (BAFPE)
  • Bayley Scales of Infant Development, 3rd ed.
  • Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI)
  • Beck Depression Inventory (BDIII)
  • Berg Balance Scale
  • Canadian Occupational Performance Measure (COPM)
  • Child Occupational Self-Assessment (COSA)
  • Clinical Observation of Motor and Postural Skills (COMPS2)
  • Cognitive Assessment of Minnesota (CAM)
  • Cognitive Performance Test (CPT)
  • Comprehensive Occupational Therapy Evaluation Scale (COTE Scale)
  • Coping Inventory
  • Empowerment Scale
  • Executive Function Performance Test (EFPT)
  • Family Needs Scale
  • Functional Independence Measure (FIM)
  • Goal Attainment Scaling (GAS)
  • Hamilton Depression Rating Scale
  • Hawaii Early Learning Profile Revised (HELP)
  • Interest Checklist
  • KATZ Index of ADL
  • Life Balance Inventory
  • Magazine Picture Collage
  • Mini-Mental State Exam
  • MoCA
  • Model of Human Occupation Screening Tool (MOHOST)
  • Occupational CIrcumstances Assessment-Interview Rating (OCAIRS)
  • Occupational Performance History Interview (OPHI-II)
  • Occupational Questionnaire (OQ)
  • Occupational Self Assessment
  • Participation and Environment Measure for Childen and Youth (PEM-CY)
  • Peabody Developmental Motor Scales (PDMS)
  • Pediatric Volitional Questionnaire (PQV)
  • Role Checklist (RC)
  • Social Interaction Scale (SIS)
  • Task-Oriented Assessment (TOA)
  • Test of Grocery Shopping Skills (TOGSS)
  • Volitional Questionnaire

Treatment Ideas

ADLs and IADLs

  • Acquisition and maintenance of personal devices (hearing aids, glasses, contacts, prosthetics, mobility devices, etc.)
  • Acquisition and management of a bank account
  • Acquisition and utilization of communication and technological devices (cellphones, computers, tablets, adaptive devices, etc.)
  • Acquisition of driver license and car insurance
  • Acquisition of health insurance
  • Acquisition of necessities such as food, clothing, toiletries, etc. (where to go, how to apply for assistance, etc.)
  • Address physical deficits or injuries that impede participation in occupation; refer out as needed
  • Available community resources and procedures of utilization (library, public transportation, etc.)
  • Budgeting skills
  • Caregiving information/techniques
  • Cultural norms for grooming, bathing, dressing
  • Home/residency maintenance (traditional housing facilities, temporary shelter, etc.)
  • Food safety practices
  • Meal preparation utilizing low-cost, nutritious items
  • Medication management 
  • Mental health (management of anxiety, depression, stress, PTSD, trauma, other mental illness, etc.)
  • Pain management
  • Paying bills
  • Religious participation
  • Safety awareness and utilization of home appliances (stove, refrigerator, microwave, washing machine, dryer, etc.)
  • Sexual education, family planning
  • Substance abuse cessation


  • Available support resources
  • Enrollment at all levels
  • Evaluate if developmentally on par
  • Identification and utilization of community organizations offering free educational classes 
  • Transportation to and from school

Play, Leisure, and Social Participation

  • Bullying resources
  • Engagement in facility social opportunities
  • Engagement in self-play and play with others 
  • Identification and utilization of community resources (local parks, playgrounds, libraries, churches, gyms, YMCA, etc.)
  • Identify interests in activities (sports, theater, clubs, music, etc.)
  • Senior centers
  • Social-emotional skills

Sleep and Rest

  • Education of health benefits
  • Mindfulness
  • Positioning
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Sleep hygiene
  • Sleep schedule
  • Sleeping arrangements
  • Time management

Work and Volunteering

  • ADA accommodations
  • Applying for employment
  • Expectations surrounding work ethics
  • Identifying opportunities
  • Identifying skill sets
  • Interview skills (role-playing, identifying strengths, preparation, etc.)
  • New employee paperwork
  • Resume development
  • Self-efficacy; Self-esteem
  • Vocational readiness

Podcast: OT's Role with the Homeless Population with Dr. Keisa Boykin

Listen to this podcast with Dr. Keisa Boykin to discuss program development at a transitional housing facility!

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