Adapting to sudden changes in circumstances is at the very heart of occupational therapy. It is normally the role of the OT to guide and support their client to find their ‘new normal’, however with the arrival of Covid-19, OTs themselves are having to use their skills to adapt and find a new way to continue to deliver their services.
For independent occupational therapy company The OT Practice this has occurred at a swift pace. They have adapted their clinical delivery model to ensure that clients in the community are still able to access vital occupational therapy support. The company has introduced a clinically robust risk assessment process to allow clients to access a timely assessment or consultation with a qualified OT. For clients who are requiring essential services in the community, the option of face-to-face support remains available.
Nikki Thompson, executive director, explained: “The foundation of the services we offer at The OT Practice is based on seeing clients in the environment they live and operate in, whether it be home, school or work. Our goal is to enable independence and quality of life and we know this is best done by seeing and experiencing our client’s environment, so unquestionably we would rather be visiting people in their homes.
“However, the health and wellbeing of our clients, staff and therapy team is our priority, and as such we need to avoid direct contact as much as possible. We have therefore developed an effective and practicable alternative for when face-to-face visits are not imperative – we can now continue to visit clients virtually.”
A wholesale cessation of the delivery of occupational therapy care in the community is not a viable or safe option. If individuals stay safe in their home, avoid being admitted to hospital or simply manage to retain a level of independence at this difficult time, this reduces the risk of them requiring more significant interventions from the NHS or social care in the short or medium term, and when pressure on these resources is going to be at an all-time high.
Nikki Thompson, executive director, continued: “A huge amount can be achieved with a virtual visit. We can conduct comprehensive assessments; recommend and support with equipment provision; provide immediate risk mitigation advice, and help clients with strategies for any daily challenges they are experiencing in their home environment.
“We are aware this new process will bring with it new challenges, and that a virtual assessment is not suitable for all scenarios (which is why a risk-managed, face-to-face option remains available), but for many it offers a lifeline at a time of isolation and increased risk.”