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Occupational Therapy: What is It, How Can it Help?

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If you’ve suffered an injury that changes your life, have a disease or disability that impacts your life or are simply aging, you may well have been referred to an occupational therapist. But what is occupational therapy and what kind of impact can it have on your life.

Today we’re putting the spotlight on occupational therapy jobs to help inform you about the discipline, whether you’re working with them on your own health or considering training to join their ranks!

Quality of Life

The main focus of the occupational therapy discipline is quality of life: to improve it or restore it for people who’ve had it affected by injury or illness.

It’s a very personal discipline: there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution for every patient: the important thing is to work with them to find out their priorities, and then find a way to make them possible within the scope of their current abilities. The key is independence: finding what makes a patient feel independent, in control of their life and then looking at those tasks through the prism of their condition.

There are various ways occupational therapists can do this: physical adaptions can take some of the strain of a body that’s not currently less able to. Fitting bars in a bath or shower gives someone who’s not able to support themselves while washing themselves independence over their grooming, and spares them from the questionable dignity of being washed by carer.

That’s a more dramatic example. Other approaches might simply be to break a task down into smaller, more manageable steps so it becomes more realistically achievable. If someone’s hands aren’t steady enough to chop ingredients, they can’t cook for themselves. An occupational therapist could find replacement implements that could chop vegetables, or help to find pre-prepared ingredients for their favourite meals, putting them once again within reach. Cheese can be bought pre-grated, onion can arrive chopped. This could allow someone to cook a favourite meal for their wife and once again contribute to family life in a way they thought was beyond their abilities.

Qualifications

Occupational Therapy is protected by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), so to register as one you need a degree from an institution they approve. There is plenty of choice, fortunately, so you should be able to find one that meets your needs.

For people who have relevant experience, or an adjacent qualification there are part time and vocational courses that can transfer into an HCPC compliant qualification and allow you to practise, so there are plenty of different routes into the profession for people who are interested.

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