Occupational therapists help adults and children of all ages to overcome physical and mental problems that are the result of disability, injury or illness.
You will create individual treatment programmes and suggest changes to the person’s environment, whether that be at home, work or school, and may introduce the use of equipment which will help with some activities. You will review the treatments periodically, evaluate progress and make changes as needed.
Employers of occupational therapists
- Local authority social services departments
- Nursing and residential homes
- Day care and health centres
- develop a rehabilitation programme to help rebuild lost skills and restore confidence;
- advise on home and workplace environmental alterations, such as adjustments for wheelchair access;
- teach anxiety management techniques;
- help people to return to work;
- advise on specialist equipment to help with daily activities;
- coach people with learning difficulties or poor social skills, e.g. in handling money and social interaction;
- mentor people on how to control their own behaviour;
- liaise with other professionals, such as doctors, physiotherapists, social workers, equipment suppliers and architects, as well as patients’ families, carers and employers;
- write reports and attend multidisciplinary case meetings to plan and review ongoing treatment;
- organize support and rehabilitation groups for carers and clients;
- train students and supervise the work of occupational therapy assistants;
- manage a caseload, prioritizing needs and completing administrative tasks such as patient and budgetary records.
To become an occupational therapist you will need to study an accredited occupational therapy degree.
Entry without a degree is possible at occupational therapy assistant, technician or support-worker level. It may be possible to progress to become an occupational therapist through undertaking an approved in-service BSc Occupational Therapy course with the support of your employer.
- communication and observation skills;
- the ability to think outside the box and work under pressure;
- decision-making skills and the ability to organise and plan your workload;
- a flexible approach to work;
- assessment and report writing skills;
- good creative and practical skills;
- team working skills as you will often liaise with other professionals such as doctors and social workers;
- enthusiasm, sensitivity and patience to deal with patients with a range of needs;
- the ability to explain, encourage and build confidence, and develop rapport with your patients;
- computer literacy.