Occupational therapy

Occupational therapy (OT) provides practical support with daily activities that you have been struggling to do due to changes in your health or physical ability. 

Occupational therapists (OTs) look at ways of adapting the particular task to make it easier for you.  They can provide equipment that is specially designed to enable you to complete the task yourself or with support.  They will also advise on adaptations to your home to make the environment safer and easier for you to use, taking in to consideration your future needs. 

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How occupational therapy can help

Occupational therapy can help if you need some support managing daily activities. For example:

  • getting in/out and around your home
  • personal care such as washing and dressing, access to the toilet.
  • domestic activities such as cooking and eating

There are two types of occupational therapists:

  • Health occupational therapists
  • Social care occupational therapists

Health occupational therapists

Health occupational therapists work in hospitals and within the community in rehabilitation units and in people’s homes. If you have been unwell, they can work with you to regain your physical ability and health (rehabilitation). They can help you to manage longer-term medical conditions.

They can also provide equipment to improve your health to keep you at home and prevent you from going into hospital.  They will often work with physiotherapists and other health care professionals to support you. In South Gloucestershire, health occupational therapists are usually provided by Sirona Care and Health.

Social care occupational therapists

Social care occupational therapists work in the community and may come into hospitals.   They will help you to look at any long-term needs that occur due to disability. They will also help you to keep or increase your independence to prevent or reduce the need for care.  They will often work alongside social workers to work out what needs you have and the best way to meet them. 

Cost of occupational therapy

Occupational therapy services from Sirona Care and Health and South Gloucestershire Council are free.  Most equipment and small adaptations will be free, however there may be a charge for specialist equipment or adaptations, depending on the situation.  Your occupational therapist will always explain and discuss this with you, so that you can make an informed decision of the different options available. 

To find out more see our Adaptations to your home article.

Private and independent therapists

A private or independent occupational therapist works outside the health and social care services. There will be less waiting time, but these practitioners will charge for their services. If you wish to find a private occupational therapist you can search on the Royal Colleague of Occupational Therapists to find an occupational therapist in your area.

Referrals to occupational therapy

You can refer yourself to a social care occupational therapist and request equipment, visit our Equipment to help with daily tasks pages for more information and to check if we can help.

If you require a health occupational therapist you will need to ask you GP surgery or health care professional to make the referral to the most appropriate team.