What exactly is occupational therapy?
Quite simply, occupational therapy is the supporting of people, both young and old, whose health and mobility restricts them from performing the actions/occupations that they want to. An occupational therapist (OT) is a trained professional that can identify strengths and difficulties an infirm person may have in everyday life, such as eating meals or getting around the home.
The OT will work with that person to provide practical solutions. These solutions could be things like practising an activity with the infirm person to build their confidence and strength, or it could be specifying mobility equipment to aid the person in performing activities. Such as hospital beds, mattresses and riser recliner chairs.
Occupational therapists are improving lives
The huge benefit of occupational therapy is that therapists provide one-to-one care. An infirm person is able to have the complete attention of the therapist, and in turn, the therapist is able to take actions that will have the most impact on the person they are caring for. This personalised care is proving hugely beneficial for the recipients of occupational therapy.
An OT will specify equipment that will help a person to be more mobile and perform tasks more easily. Regular muscular exercises improve physical condition and the ability to talk to someone about joys and worries enhance a person's mental state. All these benefits ensure a disabled or elderly person has a good quality of life.
Occupational therapists are saving money
Occupational therapists typically care for a person in their own home. They specify equipment and provide assistance to ensure the person they are looking after stays in their own home and independent as long as possible.
By retaining persons' independence at home, OT's relieve pressure on the National Health Service and other public care services. This means the NHS is saving money and can use its resources to provide better care for more emergency and short-term care patients. Bed-blocking is also reduced, a significant problem that costs the NHS more than £900m every year.
The College of Occupational Therapists' campaign
The College of Occupational Therapists represents over 31,000 occupational therapy professionals across the UK. The college prides itself on championing the vital work of occupational therapists by, in their own words, 'promoting value, excellence and innovation across the profession'.
The college has launched a campaign that aims to promote the value of occupational therapists and the impact the profession has on our health and social care system. The campaign is called, 'Improving Lives, Saving Money' and promotes the value of OTs in three key areas:
- Keeping people out of hospital
- Reducing pressure on primary care
- Addressing over reliance on social care
Campaigns like this are so important to not just gain support, but also have a presence and raise awareness. NHS and care services have reached a tipping point across the UK with increasing demand and limited funds available. Occupational therapists make a vital contribution to not only the NHS and care services, but also to schools, prisons, leisure centres and many other facilities.
This campaign affects occupational therapists working across England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, and is doing a great job at showing just how valuable OT's are to our care system.