One year on from a landmark report looking at the value and deployment of occupational therapists in Wales, mental health liaison occupational therapists at Cwm Taf University Health Board have helped to shorten length of hospital stays and reduce pressure on hospitals. The mental health occupational therapists assess patients to identify their needs and provide recommendations for discharge, reducing the length of inpatient stay. Patients are now offered the most appropriate service to meet their needs, reducing the length of hospital stay by 3 days. The Royal College of Occupational Therapists has used the South Wales service as a best-practice success story in a report looking at progress made towards its 2016 recommendations.
Occupational therapists are uniquely qualified to work across the breadth of health services including in acute, community and mental health care.
Ruth Crowder, Wales Policy Officer for the Royal College of Occupational Therapists, said:
“We set out last year to make the case for our profession and inspire health services in Wales to deploy occupational therapists innovatively to meet their significant health and care challenges, particularly to reduce unnecessary admissions and late discharge.
“It is fantastic to see the impact that our occupational therapy colleagues are having on Cwm Taf University Health Board’s mental health liaison service – helping to get patients back in the community as soon as possible with the support they need.”
Janet Bevan, principal occupational therapists at Cwm Taf University Health Board said:
“The occupational therapists within the mental health liaison team have benefitted patients by targeting services to meet their personal needs, subsequently reducing the patients’ time in hospital. I am delighted that this service model is now being rolled out elsewhere in Wales.”
The Royal College’s 2016 report, Reducing Pressure on Hospitals in Wales, called for:
- To prevent inappropriate admissions for frail older people, there should be access to occupational therapists as part of the wider primary care workforce.
- All rapid response and acute and emergency care services should have occupational therapists embedded within the multidisciplinary teams.
- Health Boards should include occupational therapy in funding for extended or out-of-hours services to achieve optimum patient flow and fast-paced assessments.
- All multidisciplinary admission and discharge teams should include occupational therapists, with therapy-led discharge planning for people with complex health care needs
- Health Boards should support the development of therapy led services to ensure timely and successful discharge.
- Planners, managers and leaders, in both health and social care services, should put occupational therapists at the forefront of reablement and community support programmes.