What Is An Occupational Therapist (OT)?
Posted by Kate Makin on September 29, 2020
Hi. I’m Kate Makin. I’m delighted to be working with Ability Superstore as their chosen consultant occupational therapist (OT).
As a registered and qualified OT, I have wide-ranging experience dealing with and recommending all forms of daily living assistive aids; from equipment for the bathroom, such as bath lifts and toileting aids to products for the kitchen, such as gripping aids, drinking cups and adaptive cutlery to general mobility aids designed to make everyday life that little bit easier.
My role with Ability Superstore allows me to give my professional advice and expertise to their in-house team, as well as to their hundreds of customers, through the writing of different and relevant news articles for the website. I also provide a support and advice service for those customers who have specific queries.
I’m often asked what an occupational therapist actually does. So I thought I would use my first news article to give you a quick overview of what I do.
Essentially, an occupational therapist (often referred to as an OT) works with adults and children of all ages with a wide range of conditions. These include physical illness or disability, learning difficulties, or simply to help those who, as they get older, find it more challenging to undertake everyday tasks. OTs look at the issues people may be experiencing in their day-to-day lives, including daily activities such as washing, dressing and cooking, and help them to work out practical and workable solutions, encouraging independent living as much as possible.
Occupational therapists work ‘holistically’, meaning that we look at all aspects of an individual. OTs fundamentally believe that a person’s mental and physical health are closely linked. Ideally, an individual should have a balance of self-care, work, productivity and leisure activities in their daily lives to create an even balance.
Once any daily difficulties have been identified, OTs problem-solve to help find and suggest good and robust possible solutions. The main techniques used are (1) practising activities in manageable stages. (2) Teaching different ways to complete certain activities, utilising what strengths/skills an individual already has. (3) Recommending changes, and then (4) recommending suitable equipment that may help.
Access to an occupational therapist may be via a doctor, nurse, or other health or social care professional. Referrals also come from social services departments. Some people choose to contact an occupational therapist directly through private practice, and this is the area of professional practice that I work within.
The majority of OTs in the UK work for the NHS or social care. These roles may be hospital-based, in the community or a mixed post. Some OTs work in housing and with children in schools and other educational settings, re-employment schemes, occupational health departments and the voluntary sector.
A person’s home environment plays a significant part in a person’s health and wellbeing. Seeing clients in their own home enables practical solutions to be tried and tested; the environment can also be adapted if necessary. In light of Coronavirus, many assessments are now undertaken remotely via telephone or video calls and, in many instances, this works just as well. I can see that this method may well be adopted for many years to come.
To qualify as an occupational therapist in the UK, you need to complete a BSc (Hons) degree programme at one of the universities accredited by the Royal College of Occupational Therapy.
Before graduating, every OT spends a minimum of 1,000 hours in clinical practice. These hours may be in physical rehabilitation, learning disabilities, mental health or any other specialist area of practice. These practical placements are under the supervision of a qualified occupational therapist and provide an opportunity to put theory into practice.
All OTs in the UK must be registered with, and are regulated by, the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).
I am passionate about the work that I do, and I find it such a rewarding job. The role is flexible and provides opportunities to improve the safety, independence and quality of many peoples’ lives – something which I love to do.
In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my two kids and husband. As a family, we love to travel, and my sons also keep me busy with their many hobbies and interests.
If you want to reach me, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org
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.