Picture the scene, it’s day one of #OTWeek2019 and everyone at the Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT) is locked and loaded, ready for the big launch of our national awareness campaign, Occupational Therapy Week 2019.
The day starts well. Numerous tweets and media coverage come in from around the UK and our Small Change, Big Impact story wall on the RCOT website lights up after we launch it at 9am. The day proceeds with meetings as normal but I seem to be spending a huge amount of time on Twitter liking (sometimes to be honest, loving), occupational therapists’ tweets about how they’re engaging in #OTWeek2019 and improving people’s lives. Others are adding their voices to the throng – people who use occupational therapy services, colleagues, carers – can it get any better? And indeed it can, when I receive an email from my friend Cathy Williams at Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), inviting me to provide you all with a guest ’OT Week’ blog.
Back to the present and I’m on a plane, flying to Scotland where I will spend most of the rest of OT week, and these words come to you from 30,000 feet, I suggest you strap in and read on.
Many Directors of Adult Social Care Services, principal social workers and policy wonks have already recognised the value of occupational therapists. Our report Relieving the pressure on social care: the value of occupational therapy really says it all: occupational therapists are integral to the Person-Environment-Occupation Model (note to self: does that sound too much like I’ve been brainwashed? Hope not). This means we will always put the person needing support at the centre of our plans and enable them to shape the service they want. We can assess work, custodial, home, school and care environments better than anyone, it’s just part of our DNA.
What’s that? Where’s the proof? Well, I personally noted 18 steps up to the aircraft door, right-hand rail ascending and trip hazard threshold at entry point, and I wasn’t even counting! We recognise the mental and physical health benefits of engaging in your chosen occupation, be it as simple as getting up and dressed, getting the children to school, making the evening meal, or even flying at 30,000 feet!
And so, I feel I must break it to you gently my dear Directors, if you are simply using your occupational therapy workforce to supply equipment and not utilising their greater skill set, you are missing a trick. This year’s Occupational Therapy Week focuses on our new campaign ‘Small Change, Big Impact’ - take a look at the story wall of examples I mentioned earlier. From these brief stories you’ll get a flavour of how much more value occupational therapists can offer to your local residents. From assessing people when they first make contact and supporting reablement schemes and staff, to ensuring new homes and refurbs (plus transport and community facilities) can keep people independent and living safely in their own homes.
I would love to say more but I’m being told that we’re starting our descent and I can hear some of you shouting mayday already! (Not Occupational therapists, oh dear me no, we are rapidly ascending!) So dear Directors, I suggest you talk to your occupational therapists about where and how they can add more value, then fast track them through security and sit back and relax whilst they do their wonderful, inspiring and amazing work.
RCOT Chief Executive, Julia Scott.