A Day in the Life of an Occupational Therapist

A Day in the Life of an Occupational Therapist

A Day in the Life of an Occupational Therapist

The day begins by compiling a case load formulated by a mixture of sources – handover from previous on-duty Occupational Therapist (OT), ‘triaging’ from yesterday’s hospital discharges, email based referrals from fellow HNP staff or acute hospital therapy colleagues and attending the daily morning meeting with office based co-ordinators.

Unlike any other community based Occupational Therapy team in the region, the beauty of being an Occupational Therapist within Hilton Nursing Partners is there is no ‘waiting list’ for patients to be visited by an OT in their own home. Therefore, most patients will be seen by an Occupational Therapist on the day or within 24 hours of referral.

Once my caseload for the day is established, I make contact to arrange visits with patients or their relatives on a priority basis if applicable.

On arrival to my first patient of the day, once introductions are made, I find it of great value to spend time listening to his story. What was his circumstances before going to hospital? How well did he manage at home? What support, if any, did he previously receive? He tells me about the roller-coaster of a ride he has been on whilst in hospital: how he underwent two surgical interventions, to be told he would never walk again.

This once ‘live life to the full’ gentleman tells me how he can now only take a few steps with help and how he must wait for the invaluable arrival of the PNA before he can reach the commode safely as he is too anxious to do this alone.

Together, we complete a brief assessment of his ability to access various rooms of his home and complete simple tasks for himself. This provides a platform for us to discuss what are his immediate goals and how as a team with the support from PNAs we can inch our way towards achieving these.

I discuss and implement simple environmental changes and advice on techniques for him to be able to toilet himself. In that moment – the gentleman can consistently and safely manoeuvre himself on and off his commode without additional support.

With a beaming smile and a ‘thumbs up’, he waves me off as I tell him I’ll be back Monday!

Throughout the day, I weave from visit to visit, enabling one person to cook their own lunch, assessing another person’s shower for adaptations, supporting and making recommendations to allow someone to finally be able to get into their own bed to have a comfortable night sleep and liaising with GPs, District Nurses and other health and social care providers as I go along.

After I’ve settled down to sip my cup of tea, gorge on a blueberry muffin and complete my electronic paperwork of the events of the day, I receive a phone-call from an Assessor: a patient has come home today with a stand aid however, they’re now struggling to stand. Once I’ve battled through the rush-hour traffic, I arrive at the patient’s home. As a team with lots of determination and patience, we work together with the equipment in place, to help the new-arrival into bed where they are desperate to rest from their exhausting journey home from hospital. Before I leave, I help the Assessor complete the support plan with the patient to determine what help they might need over the next few days.

On my way home, I reflect on my day. I’ve helped a man achieve a personal, meaningful goal and supported others to accomplish tasks in their homes that many of us would take for granted and I’ve assisted my team members to safely settle another in their first few moments of being back in their familiar environment. It’s been a day of successes.

Each day as a Hilton Occupational Therapist is varied and full of different stories, scenarios and challenges which do not always have a fairy tale ending. However, we work hard to bridge the what at times can seem, a daunting gap between the hustle and bustle of an acute hospital ward to the reality of life at home following illness. We endeavour to make this transition as fluid as possible and rehabilitate people in their own homes to their former selves. When this is not always achievable, as a team of diverse experience and skill sets, we rally around to keep not only our patients safe but their family, friends and their carers too.

I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.