The most common time to meet an Occupational Therapist (OT) is after an illness or injury which has changed your ability to manage everyday tasks. This is when an OT will meet with you to find out what you are no longer able to do and suggest and agree ways to tackle those issues so you are back to full independence wherever possible.
Ways to tackles the issues may include finding new and different ways to accomplish a task. This may be learning a new technique or how to use a piece of equipment to help. It may be helping to redesign your environment so that it enables rather than hinders you.
Another common time to meet an OT is after calling your local services department for an assessment of your changing needs regarding your ability to care for yourself or to get around and in and out of your home. It used to be only OTs who were trained to assess for equipment and adaptations but now trained therapy assistants and ‘trusted assessors’ can do this for less complex situations.
Care assessors can assess for care and support needs and sometimes equipment.
A private OT can visit and assess your needs and they can be contacted via the Royal College of Occupational Therapists Private Practice.
There may be different types and levels of assessment that an OT can do depending on the type of problems and the service they work for:
For example a mobility check to see the you are safe using mobility equipment or trolleys and on the stairs, a home environment safety check, an equipment assessment for specific issues, a memory or cognitive assessment with tailored solutions or systems and advice and recommendations, specific types of therapy including hand therapy and functional assessment of the problems you are having with washing and dressing, making meals or hot drinks, bathing, driving, productive activities and so on.
Or it may be a full Occupational Therapy assessment looking at all activities of daily living and community engagement with a plan of how to maximise independence and quality of life in these areas.
You can ask to be referred to an Occupational Therapist via the NHS if you think you will struggle to get back to independence in caring for yourself in hospital you may then be referred to get follow up by an OT in the hospital or once home or if you have to go for intermediate care.
If you have contact with community nurses or a GP you may also be referred depending on the services available in your area. The NHS and Social care are currently co-operating in some areas with the aim of a more integrated service nationally and this is at different stages in different parts of the country. You can ask for an assessment by a community OT by calling your local social services department and explaining what you are finding difficult, there may be a waiting list and dependent on level of urgency.
Your local hospice may also have an Occupational Therapy service.
A good start would be any service user or resident help or advice lines available in your area which is a point of accessing help or signposting to the right place. This will help you to find out what types of OT assessment are available via which route.
It is best to plan ahead and seek advice when everyday activities start to become a struggle so that you have a plan in place and so that the right advice and help can be sought at the right time to maintain independence and quality of life and to prevent a crisis.
Any information of a medical nature on this website is given to provide a general understanding of a medical condition or conditions.
No patient/doctor relationship is to be inferred and you should seek medical advice from a qualified practitioner.
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