The information below about the role of an occupational therapist (OT) has been adapted from information provided by Royal College of Occupational Therapists, NHS Careers, and Great Ormond Street Hospital.
What does an occupational therapist (OT) do?
Occupational therapy is the assessment and treatment of physical, psychological, social and environmental needs using specific, purposeful activity to prevent disability and help to increase people’s independence and satisfaction in all aspects of daily life.
The Royal College of Occupational Therapists says that OTs can help with everyday things in life when we have difficulty with these things.
Occupational therapy provides practical support to people with a physical and mental illness, disability, long-term condition, or those experiencing the effects of ageing, to do the things they need or want to do. It enables people of all ages to carry out practical and purposeful activities (often referred to as “occupation”). The therapy could help with essential day-to-day tasks – such as dressing, cooking or going shopping, to the things that make us who we are – our job, interests, hobbies and relationships.
OTs work closely with people to enable them to lead full and satisfying lives as independently as possible and achieve personal goals. This therapy offers valuable support and minimises the impact of disease and disability through the use of purposeful activity.
Examples of things an OT can help with
- physical rehabilitation
- mental health services
- learning disability
- primary care
- environmental adaptation
- care management
- equipment for daily living
Examples of how an OT can help
- Working with architects and builders to create accessible homes
- Supporting children with dyspraxia or a disability with writing and classroom skills
- Helping people with arthritis to return to work by developing a pain management programme
- Providing activity programmes to stimulate and engage residents in nursing and care homes
- Enabling people with disabilities to drive safely
The OT will start by assessing what the person is able to do and prepare a treatment plan that describes the support they need.
Where do occupational therapists work?
- community centres
- education establishments
- GP practices / primary care
- housing associations
- clients’ homes
- industrial and commercial organisations
- residential and nursing homes
- social services and council departments
- charities and voluntary agencies
Occupational therapy also has support roles such as the assistant practitioner, occupational therapy assistant, clinical support worker, rehabilitation assistant and technical instructor.
How can I find an Occupational Therapist?
Your GP will refer you to an occupational therapist if appropriate, or you may be advised to contact the social services department of your local council to arrange a home visit (social work departments in Scotland, or the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety in Northern Ireland).
You can find a private occupational therapist by searching the list of independent Occupational Therapy Practitioners at the Royal College of Occupational Therapists.
Royal College of Occupational Therapists
106-114 Borough High Street
Tel: 020 7357 6480
Although we believe this information to be accurate, we strongly advise you to make your own independent enquiries.