You will find lots of useful information about occupational therapy and its impact in primary care on Occupational therapy in primary care – RCOT


Occupational Therapists (OT)

Occupational therapy helps you live your best life at home, at work – and everywhere else.

It’s about being able to do the things you want and have to do. That could mean helping you overcome challenges learning at school, going to work, playing sport or simply doing the dishes.

Everything is focused on your wellbeing and your ability to participate in activities. It’s also a science-based, health and social care profession that’s regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council.

Visit the Royal College of Occupational Therapists website here.


Occupational Therapy Explained

What does an Occupational Therapist do?

Occupational therapists are the only Allied Health Professionals (AHP) qualified in physical, psychological and mental health, and therefore understand the impact of these conditions on daily life. They are healthcare professionals educated to Master’s Level and have developed the skills and knowledge to allow them to take on expanded roles and scope of practice caring for patients.  Qualifying level is with BSc or previously  DipCOT.

An occupational therapist helps people of all ages overcome challenges completing everyday tasks or activities – what we call ‘occupations’. Occupational therapists see beyond diagnoses and limitations to hopes and aspirations. They look at relationships between the activities you do every day – your occupations – alongside the challenges you face and your environment. Then, they create a plan of goals and adjustments targeted at achieving a specific set of activities. The plan is practical, realistic and personal to you as an individual, to help you achieve the breakthroughs you need to elevate your everyday life. This support can give people a renewed sense of purpose. It can also open up new opportunities and change the way people feel about the future.

Occupational Therapy in primary care

Occupational therapists change people’s lives – but few GP practices have occupational therapists and this needs to change.

We know that General Practice is under significant pressure, serving a population with multiple and complex health and social care needs. Across the UK, there is an expansion of occupational therapy roles in primary care to meet the increasing complexity of need that frequently requires more than a medical approach at a much earlier stage than secondary care. Occupational therapists are bringing their comprehensive understanding of why people, groups and communities are not able to engage in occupations that have health benefits.

Traditionally people access Occupational Therapy (OT) services at points of crisis however Occupational Therapy has a significant role to play in delivering a cohesive and integrated primary and community service by focusing on prevention, proactive care and self-management. 

'Long COVID is now causing increased disability threatening people’s abilities to work and function… early upstream access to OT support in primary care has never been more needed.'

So what do Occupational Therapists do in primary care?

The Royal College of Occupational therapists have identified three key superpowers in primary care.

  • Use of frailty indexes to identify people needing a proactive approach
  • Rapid crisis response to prevent hospital admission or to speed discharge
  • Assessment and interventions to ensure people can cope at home, including support for carers
  • Short term rehabilitation interventions and referral on to specialist services if indicated
  • Use of digital and assistive technology to ensure safety at home
  • Risk assessment for acute distress
  • Personalised care plans for self-management
  • Patient activation to achieve personal goals
  • Social prescribing, and signposting or referral onto recovery support and services.
  • Vocational rehabilitation
  • Use of AHP Health and Work report in place of GP fit note for sick pay
  • Tailored, specific advice about workplace modifications

If you cannot view the below infographic, you can open it or download it here: FCP Expectations OT

Return on investment (RCOT)

Integrating occupational therapy into primary care offers a cost-effective solution that reduces pressure on GPs, reduces referral to secondary care, enhances timely hospital discharge, and keeps people independent at home.

  • Occupational therapists, as advanced clinicians or first point of contact practitioners in primary care teams, can assess and intervene early before crisis occurs. GP patient contact costs £184 per hour (without qualification costs), compared with £120 for an advanced occupational therapist.
  • Public Health England has shown that moving a person from unemployment to work would save more than £12,000 per person over a one-year period. For every £1 invested in work stress prevention, a saving to society of £2 is made over two years.
  • Occupational therapists can work with people with multiple pathologies such as diabetes and frailty to improve independence and self-management with safety, reducing demand and costs to primary and social care services.

Meet Our Team

You will find lots of useful information about occupational therapy and its impact in primary care on Occupational therapy in primary care – RCOT


Occupational Therapy Primary Care Clinical Advisor