Frequently Asked Questions (OT)

Why is it called “Occupational Therapy”?

These days most people associate the word “occupation” with work or jobs. However, it also means “any activity in which a person is engaged”. Occupational Therapy is concerned with a person’s ability to engage in any activity they wish. It has been recognised for many years that the ability to engage in activity is necessary for good physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.


I was given some equipment by the Occupational Therapist in the Hospital, what do I do with it when I no longer need it?

The equipment you were given is on loan from Social Services (through NRS, their contractor). It should be returned to the Social Services/NRS Store. To do this please telephone 0300 1000 716 and ask them to collect it, giving your name, address and what equipment it is. You can also find this number on a sticker on the equipment. Please do not return the equipment to the hospital.


Why do Occupational therapists ask people to make a cup of tea (or coffee)? (I’ve been doing it all my life!)

Occupational Therapists use familiar, purposeful activities such as making a hot drink to assess what your functional abilities are now. Using a familiar task is non-threatening. It allows us to observe many things within one activity. These includes

  • your balance,
  • mobility,
  • hand –eye co-ordination,
  • ability to recognise familiar objects,
  • find your way around a common but unfamiliar room,
  • put the steps of the task in the right sequence,
  • your hand and arm strength and dexterity,
  • your endurance (activity tolerance),

    We will sometimes not only use this for assessment but also for treatment. Doing a task repeatedly helps to build confidence and you can easily see the improvement from day to day.making tea

Why does the Occupational Therapist want to see me get washed and dressed?

Whilst it might feel very strange to be “watched” getting washed and dressed, this allow us to assess what difficulties you may be having managing this daily task and why. We are often able to show you ways of doing individual steps that can make it easier or safer, if you are having problems (this is called an adaptive technique); or show you equipment to help, for example in reaching your feet. Sometimes we use this everyday task to help work on your balance, strength, movement or endurance. We are very aware that this can be awkward and are more than happy to turn our backs, or step behind a curtain, during those more private steps of the task, as long as you are able to do them safely.


What happens if I have difficulties doing daily tasks?

If you have problems managing daily tasks, and it appears that you will not be able to mange these another way or with special equipment we will work with Social Services to work out how best to support you on discharge from hospital. Your wishes are central to any decisions and you will be involved in the process. Our primary goal is that you should return home as independently and safely as possible. However, we have a duty to advise you if the assessments show that you might be unsafe at home. For more information about services available from Social Services please go to


What is a Home Visit?

A home visit enables us to identify any further equipment/adaptations to property, or home care support for when you leave hospital.

  • We check that you can safely enter your home and move around the parts of your home that you need to use.
  • We check that you can get on/off your chair, bed and toilet and will make recommendations/referrals for equipment if this is a problem.
  • We may ask you to make a hot drink during your visit (we will supply the milk if you live alone).

Home visits only take place with your consent. The Occupational Therapist will be responsible for getting you to your home and back to hospital. Generally we use a car, however, if this is not appropriate for your needs, we may use an ambulance or wheelchair taxi. It is often helpful to have a relative or close friend present. People involved in your care in hospital and the community may also be present, but we try to keep the numbers to a minimum. It is very helpful to make sure that you have appropriate clothes and shoes for going on the visit, particularly in cold or wet weather.
There are sometimes a number of arrangements that we would recommend to be made before you are discharged home. These could include equipment or adaptations to your property and/or home care in order to increase safety and independence when you return home. After the visit we write a report which will be placed in your medical notes. Other copies may be sent to professionals closely involved with your care.

A visit to your home may take place without you, if you have given your permission and a family member or friend is available to be present. This usually takes place when the purpose of the visit is to check that any equipment you need fits. This is known as an Access Visit.


What if I need equipment or rails?

technicianThe Occupational Therapist will work with you to identify what, if any equipment you might need. Very small equipment such as cutlery is not provided but you will be advised where you can get it. Small equipment such as toilet frames, perching stools and kitchen trolleys will either be ordered to be delivered to your house, or may be given to you to take home. Please use it as you have been advised – you will be given written information as well. It has been provided for your use and should not be used by others.

If you need rails, these will usually be fitted by our technicians, but we will need the permission of your landlord if you rent privately.

If you need major adaptations at home we will help you with the self-referral form for Social Services.