Practical Guides #3: Hand-y small aids


Hi readers, happy 2016! I’m feeling good things for 2016 and that change is in the air! Hope you had a restful festive period.

So since last posting, I’ve rotated again! I’m now in a hand therapy department specialising in rheumatology. I’m  enjoying it and think this where my OT journey may be heading. However there’s plenty of areas of OT to discover, so who knows?

Anyway I thought that I would write a blog post based on the area that I am in at the moment. Today I’m going to write about small aids to assist hand function. Rheumatology patients often say to me that they struggle opening cans, jars, bottles, lifting kettles and pans and peeling vegetables. Here’s some aids that I recommend. Please note that I’ve not been paid to recommend any of these products.


Progressive 6 in 1 multi-opener


I like to call this a ‘tool’; the Swiss Army Knife of the kitchen. This nifty little gadget performs 6 common functions that people tend to struggle with. Often people don’t want lots of special items around the house. It can make them feel less able. Especially when they open the cutlery drawer and see a multitude of items to assist them with things that the CAN’T do. This is what they CAN do with the 6 in 1:


  1. Open jars of varying sizes, with the adjustable handle.
  2. Open water/soda bottles. It can also be used to open medicine bottles with the child safety cap
  3. Open those fiddly seals on fresh milk
  4. Open bottles
  5. It has a little tooth on it which can open crisp packets or bags such as frozen peas
  6. Open ring pulls on cans


So it’s great because it addresses lots of things that people complain about with hand conditions. I recommend the brand Progressive as it has non slip surface that grips the cans and bottles better than its competitors.


Brix JarKey


A lot of people, including me, find difficulty opening jars when they have the vacuum seal on them. This item removes that vacuum to make the jar easy to open.


Dycem jar opener


The Dycem jar opener fits over the jar lid and provides a soft grip to open a jar easily. It also helps close lids which other gadgets neglect. You can also use it to fit over shower dials if people find them difficult to grip.


Culinare one touch electric can opener

one touch

This opens cans with one touch of a button. It affixes to cans with a magnet, then you press the button and off it goes! It’s got a nice chunky grip. This is important as it follows joint protection techniques that advise anyone with arthritic conditions to avoid a tight grip as it puts stress on joints. The great thing about this item is that it’s available at high street retailers, so no need to order from the internet or have to make a special journey to a mobility shop. Not that I’m knocking mobility shops, I just find that people are more likely to buy it as they can combine the purchase with their normal shop. Culinare also do an electric jar opener, but I’ve not tried that.


OXO Y shaped peeler


As mentioned before, a lot of my clients mention difficulty peeling vegetables. The OXO brand produces a lot of ergonomic items. Again, it’s the chunky, rubber grip that’s the key feature here. It’s also available at high street retailers such as Lakeland and John Lewis.



Easi-grip scissors


This can be a boon to people who enjoy crafts. It is lightweight, again following joint protection guidelines to avoid excessive force through joints. You can use your palm to use the scissors rather than the fingers. The scissors open by themselves after the pressure is released.


Chunky grips

As you may have noticed by now, a nice chunky grip is what we’re looking for. You can buyspecial cutlery or pens with chunky grips. But often people will talk about other things that they miss being able to do such as using make up brushes. Items can be quickly adapted with plastazote tubing. This is foam tubing which can be picked up cheaply from mobility stores or you can find it in DIY stores in the pipe insulation section. It has different bore hole sizes so you can fit different sized items in. It come is metre lengths and can be cut to size. It’s a great trial if people are deliberating buying items with special grips. It’s also handy to have if you’re on the wards, you can just cut a little bit off and give to the patients if you’ve noticed a patient struggling using cutlery or their toothbrush.


Breville One Cup

hot cup

For those finding difficulty lifting a kettle and don’t want a kettle tipper, there’s the One Cup. These are available from the high street and have different price points for different budgets. At the press of a button they dispense instantly enough boiling water for a cup. They look nice in the kitchen too.

Of course if people want a simpler solution they can:

  • use travel kettles for a lighter kettle
  • fill their normal kettle with just the water that they need
  • lift the kettle with two hands instead of one to distribute the weight through multiple joints.


Chip pan baskets

 chip pan

Ahhh, I’ve not seen these since my Nan used to make me chips in a proper chip pan. These can be put inside regular pans, not just chip pans. Veggies, pasta or noodles can be put inside the chip pan basket, placed into a pan of boiling water and cooked. The water then can be easily drained off by lifting and propping it up using the little hook on the side of the pan. This makes the load lighter to lift. Don’t forget to use two hands to lift, it’s so much easier! The great thing is they are so cheap and can be bought in places like Wilko’s. When the water in the pan is cooled, it can be drained safer, and slid across the counter (with a lid on) to the sink so you don’t have to lift for too long.


And the other stuff…

Well, I think that’s probably enough for you to be getting on with. Of course, there’s the obvious OT items such as sock/tight aids. button hooks, Helping Hands, long handled sponges, shoe horns, and combs but I thought I would write a post on the things that I’ve learned from this rotation. Hope it’s been…hand-y (ho ho) for you.






One thought on “Practical Guides #3: Hand-y small aids

  1. Pingback: Practical Guides #4: bathing equipment | The OT process

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