Occupational therapy provides practical support to empower people to facilitate recovery and overcome barriers to doing the activities (or occupations) that matter to them. This support increases people’s independence and satisfaction in all aspects of life.
“Occupation” as a term refers to practical and purposeful activities that allow people to live independently and have a sense of identity. This could be essential day-to-day tasks such as self-care, work or leisure.
Occupational therapists play a critical role in helping people of all ages overcome the effects of disability caused by illness, ageing or accident so that they can carry out everyday tasks or occupations. They consider all of the patient’s needs – physical, psychological, social and environmental. This support can make a real difference giving people a renewed sense of purpose, opening up new horizons, and changing the way they feel about the future.
Occupational Therapy assessment will consider:
- assess a client’s ability to function at an optimal level, despite barriers
- how activities which the person needs or wants to do can be modified or adapted to make them easier
- how clients feel about themselves and their ability to tackle problems
- how the physical and social environment can be altered so that restrictions are reduced
- work with individuals, families and support workers so they understand the importance of taking part in everyday activities
Occupational Therapy interventions may include:
- enabling people improve their self-care, e.g. by supporting them to use washing machines or to cook for themselves
- enabling people to manage their money by learning budgeting skills and how to use banks
- support people to live independently by providing systems to assist in dealing with, for example, mail and bills or negotiating with neighbours
- enabling people to get involved in activities around the home, such as cooking
- supporting people to develop parenting skills
- work with people to identify and improve work skills, apply for jobs and stay in employment
- enable people to access and use mainstream leisure activities
- provide advice on how much assistance a person may need to live independently in the long-term
Occupational therapists help people to develop a personally satisfying routine of everyday activities that creates a sense of purpose and enhances the person’s recovery journey. RCOT 2017
Workplace Rehabilitation, also known as vocational rehabilitation, is a process which helps a person with a health problem remain in work, or prepare to get back to work after illness or injury. Within occupational therapy, work is considered to include paid employment and unpaid employment. For example, unpaid employment can include volunteering, studying, housework, gardening, and leisure activities.
Workplace Rehabilitation enables a person to identify physical or mental health issues which may cause them difficulty in tasks either at their work, in their home or in the community. We consider carefully all the influencing factors in a person’s daily activities, and work in partnership to try and find solutions to the problems they are experiencing.
Workplace rehabilitation may include:
- assessment and treatment of the person to maximise their ability to work
- assessment of home and work environments and make recommendations for equipment or adaptations which will support the person to keep working or return to work
- provision of information and links to other key resources that may support them, e.g. other agencies (Job Centre Plus, Citizens Advice Bureaux, Healthy Working Lives), equipment resources, information about their health condition or information about legislation that may support them
- completion of AHP Advisory Fitness for Work Reports for employees, employers or doctors
- Transferable Skills Analysis – a set of tests or logic to determine what positions a person may fill if their previous position no longer exists in the local job market, or they can no longer perform their last position, because of an injury, for example. Transferable skills are determined by analysing past accomplishments or experience. For instance, a stay-at-home parent might find they have skills in budgeting, child development, food services, property management etc
- work site assessment/job demands analysis – understanding the demands a particular job places on the person. The process grades the task components in detail and provides a thorough analysis of the processes enabling the assessor to provide advice on work role adjustments