About occupational therapists in general practice
Occupational therapists enable people living with a range of health problems and chronic conditions to overcome barriers so they can participate in everyday life, and improve their health and wellbeing. Occupational therapists assess the needs of people to do what they need and want to do (occupations).
They develop plans with patients so they can re-engage in everyday life despite their health and social difficulties. Through intervening early and taking a collaborative approach, occupational therapists are able to address what matters most to people. This can help to minimise crisis situations, prevent further deterioration and promote independence and social inclusion.
What can occupational therapists offer?
Occupational therapists working with GPs can support people to live independently in the local community. People who might benefit from working with an occupational therapist include people who may be:
- frail and with complex needs
- living with chronic physical or mental health conditions
- managing anxiety or depression
- requiring advice to return or remain in work
- in need of rehabilitation so they can continue with previous occupations (activities of daily living)
How patients benefit from occupational therapy
There are many ways that patients in primary care can benefit from working with an occupational therapist. Some of these include:
- improved confidence and ability to manage their health condition(s) and daily life
- an increased number of occupations people are able to engage in
- support to remain safe and live independently at home
- early interventions which can prevent situations becoming a crisis
- an increased awareness of services and support available
- returning to work or remaining in employment
How do GPs benefit?
There are lots of ways that GPs benefit from having occupational therapists working alongside them in primary care. Occupational therapists can reduce the number of GP appointments and home visits, helping to free up GP appointments for other patients. Patients working with occupational therapists may need fewer unnecessary admissions to hospital, and may receive more timely responses to crises. Occupational therapists can also support with appropriate referrals on to other services.