Occupational therapy proves crucial for reducing hospital admission in Scotland

In News and Updates by COT Editor

The College of Occupational Therapists (COT) has called for an urgent increase in the use of occupational therapists to reduce pressures on hospitals across Scotland this winter and beyond.

A year- long campaign by the College found occupational therapists can reduce hospital admissions by 70-80% by working in A & E and frontline emergency services, prompting the call for urgent action. Access to occupational therapy at the hospital front door cuts admissions and discharge delays, reducing the time patients spend in hospital unnecessarily. Audit Scotland recently noted the need for NHS Scotland to rebalance itself and to provide more care outside of hospital. This report demonstrates how Occupational Therapists can help boards to achieve that objective.

Julia Scott, Chief Executive at the College of Occupational Therapists said: “Patients are being seen by occupational therapists too late and risk being admitted into hospital unnecessarily. We want to see more occupational therapists in A&E and in acute teams so that medically fit patients can return home, and continue with daily routines and activities.

There’s a growing crisis in our hospitals and occupational therapists are proving they can deliver a solution. We now call on NHS Boards to urgently review their admission and discharge teams to increase 7 day occupational therapy-led services across hospitals.”

Occupational therapists in A&E departments support patients to safely return home and manage daily activities independently. An occupational therapy assessment supports peoples’ abilities to continue to take part in daily occupations and activities. They advise in falls prevention, arrange home adaptations and signpost patients to support services so they can manage once home.

The College argues that a medical ‘fix’ is not enough for frail older people and that hospitals should equally focus on patients’ needs for recovery and long term independence. The Reducing the Pressure on Hospitals report from COT gives six key recommendations for change, including the provision of occupational therapists in all rapid response and emergency care services, more occupational therapy within primary care to prevent frailty and falls-related hospital admissions and ‘out of hours’ service provision.

Download the report: Reducing the pressure on hospitals – A report on the value of occupational therapy in Scotland 

Service example

Occupational therapists at NHS Grampian who work as part of an acute amputee assessment team introduced iPads to improve the efficiency and communication associated with discharge from hospital to home. Secure video conferencing provides a live link-up between the hospital and the patient’s home. The hospital-based occupational therapist and patient, and the social care occupational therapist and the patient’s next of kin could then discuss and plan requirements for discharge.

Using iPads for home environment assessments improved communication and saved an average of three days of clinical time and hospital inpatient stay per patient. This equates to a potential saving of £2,319 for each patient. If extrapolated to the overall amputee population who had a home environment assessment during the year (of the project), this would have realised a service saving of £108,993.00. See further details and images of the system in use.

Notes to Editors

  • For queries please contact Andrew Sharratt, on 0207 450 5229 or via MediaOfficer@cot.co.uk
  • The College’s Reducing Pressure on Hospitals Report will be published on 14 November 2016 as part of its Improving Lives, Saving Money Campaign.
  • The report makes six key recommendations:
    • To prevent inappropriate admissions from falls occupational therapists need to be an essential part of the wider primary care workforce.
    • All rapid response and accident and emergency services must have occupational therapists embedded in multidisciplinary teams.
    • Extend occupational therapy services to improve 7 day hospital discharge.
    • Occupational therapists should be in all hospital admission and discharge teams.
    • Commissioners and providers to support therapy led services across hospitals, in parallel with medical care.
    • Occupational therapists to lead reablement and community support programmes.
  • The College is the professional body for occupational therapy representing 3000 occupational therapists in Scotland and 31,000 across the UK. Occupational therapists provide life changing support to people managing illness, injuries and a wide range of physical and mental health conditions. Uniquely, they enable people to carry out daily activities (‘occupations’) which are essential for health and happiness. This vital care helps people recover and build new skills to enjoy a full and independent life.
  • Audit Scotland’s report referenced above can be downloaded at their site.