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Occupational Therapy

Therapies Staff Strategy 1

Occupational therapy helps patients to make the greatest use of their abilities to regain independence in their activities of daily living after a hospital stay. Activities of daily living are the everyday tasks that people do to take care of themselves, such as washing, dressing, toileting, cooking, cleaning or managing medication.  It also can enhance their quality of life once they’re back at home, by enabling them to keep doing these tasks and other activities that provide meaning and enjoyment.

Occupational therapists, usually called OTs, assess a patient’s function and provide expertise by showing patients different and more efficient ways of doing everyday tasks (activities of daily living). To help with this they can help source equipment and aids, and will work with the patient and their family to maximise independence so the patient can live safely at home. OTs will show patients how to practice functional tasks and can signpost you to community support, if it is needed. They will carry out functional assessments to find out whether further rehabilitation and support will benefit each patient, in order for them to regain their independence. These assessments will washing and dressing, personal care and basic household tasks, like making a cup of tea or a snack. Based on the outcome of these assessments, OTs may refer patients for the community re-ablement team (CRT). This is a short term service to provide therapy or care for patients who were previously quite independent, to provide rehabilitation in the home environment and regain independence.

The OT role:

  • Re-education
  • Assessment of functional tasks
  • Cognitive and perceptual assessments
  • Home assessments
  • Rehabilitation
  • Practice of safe techniques to help patients engage in their activities of daily living
  • Provision of equipment

OTs can work with individuals in a holistic manner to maximise their independence and ensure a safe discharge from the hospital.

Areas where the OT team work

OTs work in all clinical areas across the Trust, in both inpatient and outpatient settings. This includes:

Medicine (contact: 0118 322 5339)
Medical ward OTs cover a range of specialities which include respiratory, rheumatology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, cardiology and renal. These wards give OTs the experience of a variety of specific long-term conditions and how they impact on a patient’s everyday living.Many patients on medical wards will have chronic conditions which may have flared up suddenly or which may have progressed gradually, leaving the patient no longer able to cope at home. Initially, OTs work closely with doctors and nurses in planning for a patient’s rehabilitation, and staying in close contact with local community services to begin preparing for the patient’s return home. With physiotherapy colleagues and other staff, OTs will to help patients to get up for the first time and recommend specific exercises for their condition and ability so they can regain independence.

The role of the medical ward OT can be broad, and may include use of activities to help settle a disorientated patient with dementia, assessment for splints to support joints, or potentially completion of access visits to assess the home environment and potential needs for equipment.

Surgery  (contact:0118 322 7560)
Surgical occupational therapy covers many different areas, including abdominal surgery, ear nose and throat, urology and trauma-based injuries. Surgical OTs see planned or elective surgery patients, as well as emergency surgery patients, and treat a wide variety of age groups from 18 years upwards. The OT in surgery will assess function and look at how a person managed previously and whether this current condition or injury will affect them temporarily, or permanently. In surgery, OTs will  also see patients who may have a long-standing illness such as cancer, Parkinson’s, dementia or stroke, and will consider this in interventions to best maintain that person’s independence in everyday activities. Surgical OTs may refer patients for voluntary-based assistance at home as well as further rehabilitation and care, when appropriate. We can also look at equipment provision if necessary, for a person to return home safely and independently.

Surgical OTs also assist with new surgical interventions, such as stoma management or long term indwelling catheters. This helps patients and families to learn about using and looking after their device, as well as where to find help when necessary.

Orthopaedics (contact: 0118 322 7560)
Orthopaedic OTs see patients of all ages, for both planned and emergency surgery involving bones and muscles. While the OTs see emergency patients after surgery, for patients with planned operations, occupational therapy is often involved before surgery. This enables the OT to complete an initial assessment, discuss concerns, answer questions and give advice on appropriate equipment or modifications of existing furniture in order to prepare the patient for their recovery and rehabilitation.

Orthopaedic OTs assess function, address pain management and its effect on function, recommend alternative strategies for patients to continue to perform their everyday activities, provide rehabilitation and advise as to best practice. Orthopaedic OTs will also consider the home environment to ensure that is suitable for the patient to complete their everyday activities when they return home following surgery. Where necessary, the OT may complete an access visit if they have concerns about the patient managing within the home environment.

Neuro-rehabilitation (contact: 0118 322 6523)
Occupational therapy in neuro-rehabilitation (usually called ‘neuro-rehab’) and acute stroke care can help patients find practical solutions to overcome some of the problems that have been caused by brain injury and stroke. This involves helping patients find practical solutions to carrying out their everyday tasks and activities, which are important for independence and quality of life. This can includes bathing, dressing, toileting and preparing food.

After a brain injury or stroke, patients may experience physical, cognitive (understanding) or emotional difficulties which affect how everyday tasks are completed. Neuro-rehab OTs will further explore cognition and thinking skills, and how patients perceive the world around them and aim to offer new ways on how to do things.

In addition to providing treatment, neuro-rehab OTs are able to provide equipment or make recommendations to make tasks easier at home as well as accessing community services and / or returning to work.

Elderly Care (contact: 0118 322 5339)
OTs in Elderly Care treat patients over the age of 65, usually with a variety of medical conditions. All elderly care patients are assessed by an OT in order to identify any needs or difficulties patients may be having with performing their everyday activities, such as washing and dressing, toileting or functional tasks in the kitchen. Intervention and rehabilitation is then tailored to the patients’ needs to increase their independence and functioning in their everyday activities in order to prepare them for when they leave the hospital. Elderly care OTs are involved in patient discharge, and ensure that patients will be returning to an appropriate environment that will help keep them as independent and safe as possible.

Within Elderly Care, the Emmer Green Hip Fracture Unit treats patients with hip fractures. On this unit there is an emphasis on rehabilitation, and therapists see patients within a day of their surgery to get them on their feet and moving, in line with national recommendations. OTs assess and practice functional skills, provide appropriate equipment where required, refer and provide information about services in the community and may refer for reablement care (CRT) where appropriate.

Rheumatology (contact: 0118 322 5305)
Occupational therapy in rheumatology is both an inpatient and outpatient service, working with individuals with rheumatological conditions such as arthritis and chronic pain. The OT in rheumatology will assess how patients are managing their everyday activities and responsibilities, and provide treatment to help patients manage pain, fatigue and functional difficulties. The aim, as with all occupational therapy, is to promote and support the patient’s independence.

Occupational therapy treatment addresses both physical and mental health and wellbeing, recognising the impact of physical symptoms on mental health. It can involve supplying pre-fabricated splints or custom fitting of splints to support painful and inflamed joints, oedema and swelling management, recommendation of strengthening exercises and provision of equipment or aids to maintain independence. Rheumatology OTs can also help with self-management techniques including pain management, sleep hygiene, energy conservation, fatigue management, pacing and joint protection strategies.

Emergency Department (A&E)  (contact: 0118 322 7015)
In the Emergency Department, the Acute Medical Unit and the Short Stay Unit are both short stay units that attempt to prevent patients being admitted to a ward, unless it is absolutely necessary. The A&E OTs work together with other members of the multidisciplinary team (MDT) to provide timely, patient-focused assessments and treatment for people who are elderly, frail, or who have had a change in function. A&E OTs will assess a patient’s functioning to ensure that they are safe to manage at home, and can potentially provide equipment or link patients with community services to support them at home to avoid hospital admission, where appropriate.

The A&E OT has a key role in reducing the length of stay for patients who do not require an inpatient hospital stay – this is made possible through collaboration with the patient, their family/friends and community/voluntary services.


West Berkshire Wheelchair Service 0118 322 6706
Paediatrics 0118 322 5366

Directorate Manager: Rhian Warner
Clinical Lead: Josie Caffrey

Useful contacts

Occupational Therapy

Level 1, Battle Block
Royal Berkshire
NHS Foundation Trust
London Road
Reading RG1 5AN

0118 322 5305


    Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust,
    London Road,
    RG1 5AN
    Email us
    Tel: 0118 322 5111
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