Marie Wright, a Northumbrian occupational therapist tells us what she loves about her job on National AHPs Day
My name is Marie Wright and I am a senior occupational therapist (OT) at North Tyneside General Hospital.
AHP day is a great opportunity to raise awareness of our job and it’s an opportunity for AHPs to consider their role and really appreciate the fantastic work we do day-to-day in extremely varied settings.
OTs have an integral role within the multi-disciplinary team, working with patients, their families and carers throughout patients’ stays in hospital to ensure their discharge home is as safe as possible.
Our work is invaluable as we look at so many aspects of patients’ functioning and support them to be as independent as possible.
We assess patients’ individual needs using various methods including:
- Their ability to carry out various daily activities
- Their need for adaptive equipment to support daily living activities
- Their home environment
- Their memory, communication and attention, and ‘psycho-social’ skills including coping with anxiety and stress, and teaching relaxation techniques.
- Their sensory skills including hearing and vision
- Their risk of falls and how to prevent them
If it is not possible for a patient to return to their home environment, OTs work closely with the multi-disciplinary team to find more appropriate accommodation, for example a residential or nursing home, or rehabilitation unit.
Given that OTs are integral in co-ordinating patients’ safe discharges to ensure that they do not require a re-admission to hospital due to their functional ability, we are particularly important during the Covid-19 pandemic when it is vital we have as many beds available as possible.
Covid-19 has brought some expected understandable changes such as the increased use of personal protective equipment (PPE), being unable to take patients off the ward for assessments in alternative environments and being unable to liaise with families face-to-face on wards. We have also had to explore alternative support for patients due to community services being unavailable.
Reassuring patients on the ward who can’t see their family and vice versa has been a very challenging part of the OT role during the pandemic as well as providing pastoral support for patients, specifically tackling loneliness, isolation and practical issues eg shopping.
We have an extremely supportive team who work together to get the best results for our patients. Often people aren’t aware of the various areas we consider in patients’ care, including cognition, falls and sensory skills, and therefore AHP day is an excellent way of celebrating what we do.