Occupational therapy is a vital part of the care that hospices provide, but not something that everyone always understands or talks about very much.
In fact, St Ann’s Hospice is quite unusual in that Emma Barclay, who is Head of Clinical Services at our Heald Green hospice, is a registered occupational therapist – which we think is something to celebrate this Occupational Therapy (OT) Week.
But what is occupational therapy and what difference does it make?
Emma explains: “Occupational therapy is finding out what people want to do and helping them to achieve it through rehabilitation or by adaptation. The philosophy is all about doing and being engaged in purposeful activity.”
We are all doing beings. COVID made many of us stop what we normally do and that gives you a clue about how it feels when you suddenly can’t do what you’re used to. We help people do the activities they want to do, which might be something as small as being able to get out of bed on their own, but which can make a real difference to their mood and how they feel. Emma Barclay, Head of Clinical Services (Heald Green) and OT
“One of our patients we helped was feeling too tired to have tea with her children when she came home from school and it was really upsetting her. We looked at a way of redistributing her energy during the day so that she had a window of energy to have that normal family teatime together. It’s a small thing, but also really big at the same time. That’s why we need occupational therapy at the hospice.”
Most patients who are admitted to our inpatient units at either Heald Green or Little Hulton will be referred to support from our team of occupational therapists, for things like being able to get comfortable in bed, for support with sleep and rest, or for being able to walk outside in the gardens.
Emma adds: “We’re in a hospice. We’re not going to make fatigue go away but we can help to get it under control. We ask people what they value and what is important to them. For some people they want to do the ironing, for some people they aren’t bothered about doing the shopping but they really want to be able to do some gardening. So, we look at what’s possible and where they can save energy for the things they really want to do.”