Karin Orman is Professional Practice Manager at the College of Occupational Therapists
The College of Occupational Therapists published a report on the value of occupational therapy across urgent care at the start of Occupational Therapy Week in November. The report argues that urgent care is a term that encompasses a wide range of services and settings from primary care to care homes. Traditionally occupational therapists have been commissioned to work in secondary services but increasingly the profession is developing roles within primary care and with non-statutory providers such as housing associations offering timely, short term interventions that reduce or delay the need for more complex support and packages of care.
Occupational therapists already work within admission avoidance and discharge planning teams. There are many examples of innovation across the country with occupational therapists assessing and making recommendations to support people to continue with their daily occupations and facilitating adaptations. Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s Discharge to Assess model is frequently cited but figures for reducing admission from 6 days to 6 hours are very impressive.
Commissioning occupational therapy within services that extend the ability of GPs and nurses to provide holistic care seems an obvious next step. Through addressing how symptoms affect function and then setting goals, individuals can be supported to continue participating in daily life. The growing evidence of the impact on social isolation underlines the importance of older people accessing their local community. The College proposes other areas for improved patient outcomes such as occupational therapists acting as alternative signatories to the Med 3.for Fitness to Work assessments and occupational therapists completing the 75+ checks when completing home hazard assessments and supplying equipment and small adaptations.
Overall, the report demonstrates how placing occupational therapists within primary and early intervention services can reduce the risk of admission into hospital from incidents such as falls and contributes to savings through reducing costly packages of care. By highlighting just a few examples of effective practice we challenge our members to inform the College about their service innovations and to promote their work to commissioners and other stakeholders. The cry for more nurses and doctors is a tired one and does not reflect the skills mix that makes services effective. The BGS and others recognise the importance of multi-disciplinary working and if occupational therapists and other AHPs are to be included in prevention and early intervention services we need to be capturing the evidence to support this. This report is a first step.
To read the College of Occupational Therapists report Urgent Care: The Value of Occupational Therapy (England) 2015 visit: https://www.cot.co.uk/cot/occupational-therapy-improving-lives-saving-money