The Royal College of Occupational therapists (RCOT) has launched a report which outlines the “integral role” that occupational therapists play in the social care system.
Part of the Improving Lives Saving Money series, the report outlines how the work of occupational therapists can relieve the pressure on the social care system.
It highlights that despite making up just 4% of the regulated workforce, occupational therapists address 35 to 45% of local authority referrals.
In one example, the report notes that occupational therapists saved Devon County Council £472,301 in 2018/19 and 239 hours of care costs by reviewing double-handed care packages, reviewing people’s priorities and needs and working with care providers to adjust level of support to meet need.
Commenting on the report RCOT chief executive Julia Scott said: “Every day we hear about the crisis in social care, people not having access to services when they need them, people moving into residential care due to the lack of community services and families and carers under enormous pressure.
“People who need social services are struggling with daily life. Successive governments have continually promised to focus on social care, but people in need don’t have time to wait for a green or white paper, they need help now.
“It’s clear that occupational therapists are a vital part of the solution. They give a person centred approach which focuses on making the things that matter to people possible again. By focusing on the person’s ability to participate in daily life they can vastly improve their quality of life.
“This report outlines how occupational therapy services are not only cost effective but can make a considerable difference to people’s lives on a day to day basis.
“Occupational Therapists are increasingly recognised as an essential part of social care services and in some local authority areas they are the first to assess people and swiftly resolve difficulties without the need to refer on to other parts of the system.”
RCOT said that by focusing on the person’s ability to participate in daily life, occupational therapists identify the right support to address people’s needs; teach strategies and adapt the home to keep people as independent and safe as possible; and address the barriers to people staying connected within their local community.