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Tagged In:  Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapists have been involved in social care since the early 1970s. But with increased emphasis on 'joined-up' working and prevention rather than cure, their role has never been more important and relevant. We spoke to experienced OT Bob Baldock to find out more.


Bob works with Adult Social Care services at Brighton and Hove City Council. His base is Hove Town Hall, but he spends a lot of time visiting clients in their own homes to carry out assessments. “Initially my placement was with the Independent Living Team,” he says. “But in August 2013, I moved to the Housing Adaptations Occupational Therapy Team (HAOT), based within Housing, not adult social care. However, it's an integral part of the role to link and liaise with colleagues in adult social care and NHS Assessment teams on a daily basis.”

Collaborative working


Comprising of occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants, Bob's team also works closely with the Council's Adaptations Technical Team of Home Improvement Officers, who mostly have technical backgrounds or experience in surveying.

“My role is Senior Occupational Therapist,” explained Bob. “It involves supervision and appraisal of occupational therapists on the team, holding a case load of clients requiring major adaptations, and drafting of OT recommendations and adaptation specifications. We link with the local Home Improvement agency whose role is to support applicants through the Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) process.”

Making a difference


Bob is in no doubt about the useful contribution occupational therapists can make in a social care context. “OTs spend a significant number of hours working within physical disabilities and mental health as part of our training,” he observed. “In my view, we're best placed to assess a person's functional abilities and potential for independence through either intrinsic or adaptive therapies. We're trained to take a holistic approach and our aim is to promote independence as far as possible by the use of purposeful activity.”

“With the high-profile focus currently on early intervention, prevention, and promotion of independence and well-being through a reablement approach, the role of occupational therapy has never been more important or held so much potential in the management of health and social care services.”

Tangible benefits


By enabling people with health issues or disability to live independently in their own homes, the work of occupational therapists can not only help improve their well-being, but also reduce costs and pressures on health and social care services. “Reablement has been shown to result in reductions in long-term care support packages and admissions to care facilities,” said Bob.

As an example, Bob cites the case of a wheelchair-dependent client who is housebound and reliant on paid carer support for all his needs. Over just one winter he had been admitted to hospital a number of times for chest infections and pneumonia. Following adaptations to his home, including central heating, ramped access and a remote door opening system, he is less prone to health problems, more independent, less socially isolated and less reliant on carers.

Bob summed it up well: “The benefits to clients of being able to remain independent can impact positively on their physical health, as well as their emotional and psychological well-being. The teaching of new skills or ways of doing things, or provision of equipment or adaptations, enabling people to manage their own personal care and way of life, significantly improves quality of life and promotes dignity and self-respect.”

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