Examples of our occupational therapy work

Sourcing a vehicle and assessing public environments

Liz sustained a spinal injury and as a result became wheelchair dependant. She started to become socially isolated because she couldn't leave her local area and her friends found it difficult to always travel to her. Liz was also worried about visiting the public places she used to go to such as pubs, restaurants and shopping centres, because she was not confident driving her electric wheelchair and using disabled toilets. Her support workers were happy to help her but were nervous with new situations themselves.

Our occupational therapist worked with Liz and her support workers, firstly to look at public transport options, such as using the tram, and to assess different environments for accessibility. The OT taught the support workers how to assess new environments that Liz might want to visit and practiced this with them until they were proficient at it. She then accompanied Liz and her support workers on trips out until everyone felt happy and confident.

With her knowledge of disability our OT was able to help Liz source a vehicle that met her needs for transport on the longer term. This meant helping her through the decision making process and liaising with sales reps to help them understand Liz’s difficulties and needs. For example, she needed air conditioning as well as heating in the rear of her vehicle because of her sensory impairment. The OT also worked alongside Liz’s case manager to arrange driver training for the support workers.

Outcome: Liz's quality of life increased dramatically as she became more independent; able to visit public places again and go out to see her friends.

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Independent living

Clare sustained a brain injury as a result of an accident she had when she was 17 years old. She was 21 years old when our occupational therapist began working with her. Until this time Clare had lived with her parents and younger siblings - she had never tried living on her own. To live independently became her main goal so a ‘rehab flat’ was rented as her own home was not suitable for rehabilitation due to the number of people living in it and the needs of the rest of the family. An occupational therapy programme was implemented, focusing on working with Clare in the flat to teach her independent living skills like budgeting her money, cooking, cleaning and shopping.

A rehabilitation assistant was introduced to work with Clare on independent living and to help her practice the skills, strategies and routines that were introduced by her OT. Working with a rehabilitation assistant also meant that Clare could get used to having someone to support her before the case manager went on to recruit her support team. Over time, with the help of her OT, Clare took on more and more responsibilities in the flat and she improved her independent living skills.

Despite learning to become more independent in many areas, it soon became clear that there were some tasks for which Clare would need long term support - mainly getting her shopping and budgeting her money. To address this, Clare’s case manager recruited two support workers to provide long-terms support to Clare. We ensured that there was a period of joint working and handover between the new support workers and the rehabilitation assistant which allowed Clare to get used to her new team members, and to allow the support workers time to learn the best way to support Clare in her home.

Outcome: The occupational therapy programme is now finished and Clare continues to live independently with the help of her support workers and case manager. They help her to continue with the routines and strategies introduced by her OT to enable her to live independently, and they assist her with any new situations that she needs help with.

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College and employment

John sustained a brain injury following an accident in his teens and whilst physically fit, he had numerous cognitive difficulties as a result. John was keen to ‘get on in life’ but struggled to know how to do this without help.

He was referred to our occupational therapy team at the age of 18 to help him look at his plans for the future. Our occupational therapist helped him identify what he was interested in doing and worked with him to explore his options. John decided on a mechanics course that he would like to do at college.

The OT worked closely with the college tutors to help them understand John’s brain injury and to ensure that the appropriate level of support was in place. She taught him strategies to learn new information and helped him put systems in place to organise and plan his work.

When John successfully finished the course, the OT supported him in finding a part time job where he could practice his new skills. She met with the employer to look at John’s needs and strengths within the workplace. Systems to ensure successful employment were then put in place. The OT then had regular meetings with John and his employer to trouble shoot any problems, in order to ensure a successful outcome.

Outcome: The occupational therapists intervention regarding John's employment lasted for six months, until John and his employers were happy and working well together, and was then withdrawn.