As you'll be working with a range of people who will all have different requirements, you'll need to understand each client's lifestyle so that you can create the best treatment plan for them.
As an occupational therapist, you'll need to:
take a 'whole person' approach to each patient's physical and mental wellbeing by considering all their needs – physical, social, psychological and environmental
assess, plan, implement and evaluate treatment plans in hospital and community settings
establish realistic goals with the patient with meaningful outcomes
liaise with other professionals, such as doctors, physiotherapists, social workers, equipment suppliers and architects, as well as patients' families, teachers, carers and employers
keep up-to-date written and electronic records
write reports and care plans and attend multidisciplinary case meetings to plan and review ongoing treatment
refer patients to other specialists when needed
organise support and rehabilitation groups for carers and clients
contribute to the analysis, planning, audit, development and evaluation of clinical services
train students and supervise the work of occupational therapy assistants
manage a caseload, prioritising patient needs and completing administrative tasks such as patient and budgetary records.
Your client case load - whether you're working with the elderly, children, people with mental ill health or living with a disability - will dictate your specific activities. You may need to:
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.
To practise as an occupational therapist in the UK you must be registered with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC). In order to register, you must successfully complete an HCPC-approved pre-registration occupational therapy programme at either undergraduate or postgraduate level. Search the list of HCPC-approved programmes.
What to expect
You will need to be flexible about the geographical area in which you're willing to work when applying for entry-level positions.
You can work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, community facilities, schools, businesses, prisons and clients' own homes.
Some areas of work can be challenging and require physical and mental strength, flexibility and stamina.
Travel within a working day is common if you work in the community.
There are opportunities to work abroad as qualifications accredited by the Royal College of Occupational Therapist are recognised internationally.
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