This page provides an overview of the physiotherapist role in long-term care based on the information given to us by those in the field and the sources outlined below. The role of a physiotherapist may vary based on the long-term home and region. For a more comprehensive picture of this role, visit the physiotherapy association information links below. This page is part of our Careers in Long-Term Care Initiative.
What does a physiotherapist in LTC do?
A physiotherapist working in Long-Term Care (LTC) supports every resident’s physical health and well-being by assessing and diagnosing symptoms of pain and limited mobility caused by illness, injury, or disability. Part of an assessment includes looking at how well a resident can carry out their daily activities. Physiotherapists speak with residents about their unique goals for maintaining their independence and then create a rehabilitation plan. Physiotherapists meet with residents to work on improving their strength, balance and range of motion.
Videos were filmed during the COVID-19 pandemic. All precautions were taken and protocols followed to ensure the safety of residents, team members, and crew, including vaccination requirements, wearing masks, filming outdoors, and distancing.
On any given day, a physiotherapist may:
- Assess residents and gather their medical history
- Develop a rehabilitation plan based on the resident’s goals
- Train other LTC team members on how to use equipment to support residents
- Document resident’s physiotherapy plan, changes, improvements and challenges
What skills will I use?
- Time management
- Communication – verbal and written
- Active listening
- Advocacy on behalf of residents
- Conflict resolution
- Musculoskeletal and kinesthetic awareness
How do I become an LTC physiotherapist?
To become a physiotherapist in Ontario, you need to complete a master’s degree program in physiotherapy. You must first complete a 4-year bachelor degree that has the prerequisite courses for a master’s degree and obtain a high enough Grade Point Average (GPA) to enroll in a 2-year Masters of Physiotherapy program from an accredited institution in Canada.
Program graduates must then take a Physiotherapy Competency Examination (PCE) through the Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators (CAPR). This examination has a written and clinical component and ensures that members of the public will be safe when they interact with physiotherapists. This evaluates the competencies you need to have to practice physiotherapy and you need to pass this exam in order to practice physiotherapy.
To use the title physiotherapist, physical therapist or PT, you must be registered with the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario.
- Physiotherapy assistant (PTA)
- Occupational therapist
- Rehabilitation coordinator
- Nurse practitioner
Connect to physiotherapy associations
- College of Physiotherapists of Ontario (2021). What is Physiotherapy? (web page).
- College of Physiotherapists of Ontario (2021). Physiotherapy University Programs and Bridging Programs (web page).
- Canadian Physiotherapy Association (2021). Working in Canada (web page).
- Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators (2019) Exam Overview (web page).
This profile was reviewed by a member of the Ontario Physiotherapy Association.
The webpage is part of the Ontario CLRI at RIA’s Careers in Long-Term Care Initiative