Respiratory Medicine (OT)
Within the respiratory team the role of the Occupational Therapist varies depending on the nature of your respiratory condition, stage and requirements of you as an individual.
Intervention from the Occupational Therapist largely covers assessment and discharge planning from hospital to your preferred discharge destination. This would include assessment of personal activities of daily living, transfers, mobility and practice of these skills for a safe discharge. Provision of equipment to assist activities of daily living is addressed by the Occupational Therapist particularly with view to conserving energy to manage daily activities.
People with respiratory disease are often limited by breathlessness and fatigue. The Occupational Therapist uses techniques such as energy conservation, planning and pacing activities, and fatigue management in order to manage daily activities in the most efficient way. Breathlessness can also be very frightening for you. The Occupational Therapist may teach you anxiety management techniques to cope with the impact that breathlessness can impose on your lifestyle. This advice can also be passed on to your relatives/carers in order for them to support you beyond discharge from hospital.
The Occupational Therapist encourages you to remain as active and independent as possible, and refers onwards to other professionals as appropriate for ongoing support whilst in hospital and upon discharge. These may include specialist respiratory nurses, community Occupational Therapists, social workers or palliative care nurses. The Occupational Therapy intervention is tailored to your individual needs depending on the goals set between you, the Occupational Therapist and your family/carers.
Some patients with respiratory disease may go on to require long term oxygen therapy depending upon their condition. The Occupational Therapist would assist to address any concerns around this and how to cope with daily activities whilst on oxygen therapy. This may include advice with regards to environmental adaptations, moving around the home environment, or continuing to pursue leisure or domestic activities outside of the home.
The Occupational Therapist is also part of the pulmonary rehab team. This offers an eight week outpatient programme for people mainly with the diagnosis of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). However, patients with other respiratory conditions are considered on an individual basis. The programme is run by members of the multidisciplinary team including specialist respiratory nurses, a respiratory physiotherapist and respiratory Occupational Therapist. Pulmonary rehab offers patients an exercise programme tailored to individual patients needs, a weekly educational talk and advice regarding management of respiratory disease, breathlessness, panic and improving quality of life. Patients who have completed the pulmonary rehab course often find they are able to be more independent with their activities of daily living, can control their breathlessness and anxiety with greater ease and are able to manage their condition with a greater confidence. The Occupational Therapist will set realistic and achievable goals with you to work on as part of the programme and make recommendations for the future to encourage you to continue to manage your respiratory condition and maintain your quality of life upon discharge.