Adam Ferry, occupational therapist and director at consultancy, The OT Service, offers tips on how mobility dealers can best approach therapists with equipment and engage with them when it comes to sales.
What is Occupational Therapy?
It is an allied health profession that uses meaningful occupation (activity or function) as the central focus for assessment and intervention. Do not let the term ‘occupation’ mislead you. We are not focused solely on employment (although vocational rehabilitation is certainly an occupational therapy role). This is a term used during the development of the profession during the era of the Crimean War, which simply meant ‘activity’.
In focusing on meaningful activity, an OT is uniquely positioned to support and enhance health and well-being for clients in areas of their lives that they hold the most value to. This may be getting washed and dressed, making a meal, maintain a role (as mother/father/grandparent/bread-winner/employee, for example) or visit friends/family, to name only a few.
The OT’s professional underpinning is to provide objective, client centred, holistic and meaningful occupation focused assessment and intervention to maximise independence, health and wellbeing. It is this unique remit that makes occupational therapy so attractive to the commercial disability equipment sector.
How do they do it?
An OT’s core skill is activity analysis. This is the breaking down of objectively observed activity into their smallest component parts to build a picture of the person’s abilities and needs. As the assessment is holistic this activity analysis covers everything from physical, cognitive and neurological components through to the environment (physical, social, cultural and economic), sensory, communication, affective and emotional elements. Application of this comprehensive activity analysis will lead the OT to make recommendations such as equipment, adaptations, rehabilitation or education/training.
When The OT Service is providing consultancy to companies in the industry, we stress the importance of using and understanding professional language. By this we mean using words that make the OT comfortable and engaged. This includes being able to ask the therapist questions about their client in a way that demonstrates both the company’s understanding and appreciation while enhancing integrity, efficiency and ultimately client/customer outcomes.
In our experience, OTs do not like to be ‘sold to’; they want a product that will enhance the health and well-being of their client. This involves shifting the focus away from sales and making the process entirely about the client’s needs. Business integrity is key. OTs are well educated and keep up-to-date with research within their clinical area so know a fake fact or ‘research’ when they hear it. So ensure that any evidence base is sound and available for review.
Remember that the OT’s focus is on meaningful activity so consider this when designing sales material or graphics. The language and information needs to catch their attention so it has to be profession focused; do not assume that one piece of advertising or media publication will do the same job for physiotherapists, OTs and nurses, for example.
The OT Service offers specialist consultancy for companies of any size, making it accessible, whether a large multi-national or a single store retailer. Contact Adam Ferry on firstname.lastname@example.org for more details