“We are not a profession that can be described easily!” Jenni, Occupational Therapist at Willen Hospice.

Living with a life-limiting illness becomes about medical appointments, and the assumption that quality of life is about absence of pain or symptoms. It is, in fact so much more than that.

Occupational Therapy at Willen Hospice aims to help patients achieve their optimum independence in activities that are important to them. This may be getting washed/dressed, preparing a meal, socialising with family and friends, or a hobby, such as gardening.

To help raise awareness of Occupational Therapy on World OT Day, we spoke to Jenni who helped us debunk some OT myths and provide some insight into how we use OT at the Hospice to improve patient wellbeing.

“We are not a profession that can be described easily!” Jenni begins as she looks to explain her role and the idea of Myth-busting came about.

MYTH Occupational Therapists help you with your job

Although we use the word ‘occupation’ to describe our jobs, it’s also used to describe how we ‘occupy’ ourselves. We are able to support patients who are working, however, we would also support them in doing everyday activities, such as preparing a meal or socialising with friends.
Jenni explained; “What we do as people make us who we are, and difficulties in being able to do this has a big impact on our wellbeing.”

MYTH Occupational Therapists only provide equipment

Although this is a common role for OTs, it is only a very small part of our role at the Hospice. Jenni explains “We assess patient’s abilities and sometimes provide equipment; but our focus is always enabling people to continue doing what they want to do, in a safe manner”.

MYTH Occupational therapists are the same as Physiotherapists

Although working closely together as part of our Therapeutic and Wellbeing Team, OTs are a completely different profession. Occupational Therapists train in a different way and have their own professional body. Where Physiotherapists look at the mechanics of movement, Occupational Therapists look at the practical side of how someone functions.

MYTH Occupational therapists come and see you at home

OTs work in many different areas, for some working in the community, they will regularly see people at home. Others working in a hospital may not go out to homes at all. Jenni tells us that; “Most of our work at the Hospice is done within our Wellbeing Centre and Inpatient Unit, however there may be occasions where we need to visit homes.”

People’s quality of life can be greatly affected by a life limiting illness, not only from physical symptoms, but emotionally, socially and psychologically. This serves only to highlight the importance of Occupational Therapists at Willen Hospice, who are trained in both physical and mental health, giving them a unique perspective on patient care.