Day In The Life Of An Occupational Therapist

One of the best things about my job is never knowing what I am going to be doing from day to day – and that is a good thing!

I know that some people would hate that, but I love the challenge of something different every day.

Some of my work is meeting patients for the first time, before they have been discharged from hospital. This means assessing their needs whilst they are still on the wards and trying to discover what they can and cannot do prior to discharge.

What is supposed to happen is that we get a care plan in place before they are discharged from the ward they are on, and are in a position to be able to offer them some practical help, for when they return home.

Ideally, everything that we need in place for that discharge, be it equipment and nursing care, should be set up for their return.

Sadly, in practice, I know that this does not always happen like it should do and one of the bugbears of my job is having to visit a patient who has been discharged from hospital, before the support package has been put in place. Sometimes they have not even been assessed by an OT before they are discharged.

Therefore, I must play catch up and try my hardest to ensure that the patient is firstly getting all the services that they need. This can often be the hardest part of my job, as for various reasons; administrative, financial and social, they sometimes are not.

Whereas we understand hospitals needing to discharge patients who are medically well enough to leave, especially when there are people waiting for those beds, we are constantly being frustrated by the numbers of patients who are simply allowed to go home, in our view, too soon. This is especially the case for patients who are elderly.

All too often, an older patient, perhaps who has had a fall in their home, will be returning home after a minimal hospital stay, and simply be unable to cope.

One initiative that I am part of and am hoping will take off, is helping people in their own homes before they have an accident.

I go out to visit vulnerable people, often the elderly, but not always, who are in need of some help and adaptations to keep them out of hospital in the first place.

Prevention is better than any cure and should become an important part of any OT’s job.