RCOT – Improving Lives, Saving Money update – February 2018

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Just over one year on from the Royal College of Occupational Therapists’ landmark reports on how occupational therapists are easing pressure on hospitals across the UK, we have published an update looking at the progress made in expanding best practice services. We have been delighted to see occupational therapy best practice spreading in all four nations of the UK, with innovative pilots being put on a permanent footing and new services being set up.

The Royal College’s November 2016 report, Reducing Pressure on Hospitals, set out to make the case for our profession and inspire health services around the country to deploy occupational therapists innovatively to meet the significant challenges of delivering person centred care whilst reducing unnecessary admissions and delayed discharge. We are delighted to see the impact that the report is having across the country. More occupational therapists are helping to reduce hospital admissions and get patients back in the community as soon as possible with the support they need.

One such innovative service is Norfolk’s Early Intervention Vehicle (EIV), run by Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust and the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST). The EIV primarily deals with falls, which account for 10-25% of ambulance call-outs in the over-65s. The EIV pilot was successful in preventing 75% of patients being admitted to hospital, a return on investment of 9.6 to 1. Staffed by an emergency medical technician from the ambulance service and an occupational therapist from the community health trust, the EIV is reducing 999 responses to elderly falls patients, reducing emergency admissions, and ensuring that repeat fallers are falling less often. The Norfolk service has been highlighted as a best-practice success story in our new Reducing the pressure 12 months on  report looking at the progress made towards the 2016 report’s recommendations.

We are pleased that such best practice is now being used as a template for new services elsewhere. The EIV is now being copied across East Anglia, with pilots established in Waveney and Great Yarmouth. Norfolk and Waveney Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) has provided £130,000 of funding to allow the pilots to run until at least 31st March 2018. Seeing occupational therapy services replicated across the UK shows the impact of the ‘Improving Lives, Saving Money’ campaign, not just on the recognition of the value of occupational therapy, but in making a difference on the ground in communities up and down the country.

The Norfolk service was just one of our nation-wide best practice case studies which have received attention in the media. The College’s Chief Executive, Julia Scott, appeared on BBC Look East, telling viewers how the EIV service is enabling people to stay at home within their communities and reduce pressure on hospitals over the busy winter period. Meanwhile, the College’s Wales Policy Officer, Ruth Crowder, was live in the ITV Wales studio to discuss the impact of the Cym Taf occupational therapy mental health liaison service, which is reducing the average length of hospital stays by 3 days. And in Scotland, Consultant Occupational Therapist Thérèse Lebedis featured on BBC Reporting Scotland, explaining how NHS Grampian’s occupational therapy stroke rehabilitation unit has managed to cut the average length of time patients stay in hospital from 46 days to 39 days in just 6 months.

The potential of occupational therapy to improve lives and save money in the health service is getting wider recognition. Involving members at a local level is an important part of the campaign.  Get involved by attending your regional roadshow or use our toolkit (ILSM members toolkit) to update local stakeholders, managers and colleagues on the campaign and impact of occupational therapy.  Regional groups are also planning to invite MPs to visit events to raise their awareness of occupational therapy.  To find out more visit the regions pages on the website

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