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Insights Of An Occupational Therapist (OT)

Posted by Kate Makin on October 7, 2020

A close-up of Kate Makin – in the distance is a brick wall and some bushes – Kate is looking out at the reader

Hello everyone, Kate here.

For this blog, I was asked to give some insights into my work as an occupational therapist or OT.

Every occupational therapist works in a slightly different way, and what each OT does can vary greatly. We help all sorts of people, and each assessment we undertake is as individual as the person we are working with.

So, I thought the best way for me to share an understanding of the type of work I do and give an insight into my world is by telling you about a case I’ve recently been involved in.

A young person was involved in a serious road traffic collision. As a result of the accident, there were complex fractures throughout the whole body, including the spine, pelvis, both legs and the right hand and arm.

As you can imagine, the accident had a massive life-changing impact on this person’s life. They lived alone, and the injuries affected many usual daily activities including walking, washing, dressing, cooking and any household job that required standing. Furthermore, this person was unable to drive, undertake any shopping, visit family and friends and take part in leisure activities previously enjoyed, including running and going to the gym.

As well as dealing with the effect of the physical injuries, the person was struggling psychologically, too. Their mood was low, they found it hard to sleep, and they were extremely anxious about how they would ever get life back to ‘normal’.

As the appointed occupational therapist, this was a very challenging case. Still, I was determined that together, we could make a considerable difference to their quality of life.

I undertook a full assessment and discussed with the person what their priorities were. Together, we came up with a list of goals.

I made my recommendations to their case manager regarding what I felt this person needed to enable them to be independent again. Once I had the approval to go ahead, and the necessary funds were in place, I began to put my plan into action.

My role was extremely varied and involved the implementation of many mobility aids and adaptations within the home enabling this person to be more independent. This included various disability aids, a bath lift, washing and dressing aids, a shower chair, and different grab rails placed at strategic locations around the home. I also assessed this person for a riser recliner chair and a profiling (hospital style) bed.

For the kitchen, I provided a perching stool and various aids such as ergonomic knives, Easi-Grip utensils, a plate holder and a pan holder to enable cooking with the use of just one hand.

Then we turned to the outside of the home, and I encouraged the once very active person to undergo a driving assessment and to attend a local gym where they had adaptive gym equipment.

Other elements of my work involved pain and fatigue management, relaxation techniques and addressing sleeping difficulties. I also worked closely with the person’s employer towards the aim of a return to work.

This case, like many others I work on, has had its challenges, but with a lot of OT input, I am delighted to say that the person in question is doing really well. Their mobility has improved, they are much more independent, and back to cooking and generally being able to look after themselves independently. They have also returned to driving and has, on a phased return basis, gone back to work. 

Of course, I cannot take all the credit for this! I am often part of a much larger, multi-disciplinary team, and the person in question also had the help of a physiotherapist, a psychologist and a case manager. Plus, their will and strong determination also meant that we, as a team, could collaborate and help to make a difference.

Small Changes can make a BIG difference
The Royal College of Occupational Therapists recently held a campaign celebrating the small changes occupational therapists make that can have had a significant impact on a patient’s life.

As an example, I recently recommended a simple universal knob turner to a client.

The client’s daughter was popping over every day simply to turn the fire on and off for their mum.  However, with the remarkably low-cost and straightforward mobility knob turner, the lady in question can now turn her fire on and off by herself!

Sometimes the equipment I recommend doesn’t need to be complicated, high tech or expensive to make a big difference. Something as simple as the knob turner and seeing the positive effect it can have makes my job just as rewarding as working on a case that is much more involved.

For more information, you can contact me directly via


Kate Makin qualified as an occupational therapist (OT) in 2001 with a BSc (Hons) in Occupational Therapy. She is a member of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT).

As a registered occupational therapist (OT), Kate is a science degree-based, health and social care professional, taking a “whole person” approach to both physical and mental health and wellbeing. This enables individuals, of all ages, to achieve their full potential and lead as independent life as possible. 

Throughout her career, Kate has worked in many different clinical settings, in both the public and private sector. Kate has been running her own independent occupational therapist business since 2009. She is passionate about disability aids and adaptations, with a specialist interest in postural management and seating.

Kate lives in Newcastle upon Tyne with her husband and two young sons. She enjoys a busy family life and also loves to travel.

As Ability Superstore’s resident OT, Kate is on hand to offer professional advice and answer any queries.