Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapists work in numerous settings. They aim to deliver specialist assessments and interventions to help individuals to engage in occupations that they need and want to do in their everyday lives but are prevented or restricted from doing as a result of their health conditions. Occupations can be defined as meaningful activities that are specifically important to a person and refer to everything we do in our daily lives. Occupational Therapists are trained to consider different ways that an individual can be enabled to perform occupations as independently and safely as possible focusing on the physical, mental, cognitive and social needs of the person and also the physical and social environment of where occupations are performed.

Additional information

Understanding the individual and what occupations are most important to them underpins the whole Occupational Therapy process and so Occupational Therapists work alongside the person promoting informed decision-making to establish and regularly review their specific therapy goals. Where appropriate to do so, the individual’s family and carers may also be involved in this process. Occupational Therapy may be delivered on an individual basis or in therapy groups depending on the aim of treatment and the clinical setting. Occupational Therapy aims to support individuals maintain or develop involvement in their essential or chosen activities and roles, to promote health and wellbeing whether this is through increasing a person’s confidence and self-esteem or in supporting them to develop new skills, to promote the importance of managing a healthy, balanced and structured routine and in promoting adaptations and adjustments of the way an occupation (activity) is performed or to the environment it is performed within.

Occupations are entirely subjective to the individual and so cover many areas. Despite this, they can include management and completion of self-care (personal care routines, management of symptoms, nutrition, hydration, sleep, relaxation and exercise) leisure (engagement and access to interests and hobbies), vocational (job retention, exploring work and study options, refreshing or developing new skills), interpersonal (communication and relationship skills, problem-solving, planning/ goal setting and time/organisational management), environmental (support networks, suitability of housing, accessibility and financial) and home maintenance (household routines and household management skills).

More specifically in working with individuals with neurological conditions, the focus of Occupational Therapy may be more around working with their colleagues to support individuals understand, accept and accommodate for their symptoms that may include neurological fatigue, reduced cognition (i.e. memory, organisation, problem-solving), reduced management of mood (including emotional adjustment and the ability to relax), reduced mobility, reduced physical stamina and endurance, reduced strength, function and/or movement of limbs and reduced ability to communicate. Occupational Therapists may work at an impairment level, but they aim to help individuals develop strategies which allow them to compensate for difficulties so that they can develop their independence and safety in performing their occupations. Occupational Therapists may also provide support and information to family and carers so that they can also help the individual engage in the rehabilitation process.

If you are experiencing difficulties in performing your occupations as a result of your health conditions and have not been referred to an Occupational Therapist, then you may benefit from discussing this with your General Practitioner and other people and services currently involved in your care.