Occupational therapy support workers, also known as rehabilitation assistants, deal with people with mental health disorders or physical injuries. They collaborate with occupational therapists to help these people live independent and productive lives. If you have great interpersonal skills and enjoy helping people, this could be the right career for you.
What Do Occupational Therapy Support Workers Do?
Just like their name suggests, occupational therapy support workers assist occupational therapists to improve the lives of their clients. Their work mainly revolves around implementing rehabilitation programs, monitoring clients’ progress and reporting to senior therapists. In detail, their duties could involve the following activities:
- Helping patients recover from conditions, such as a stroke or accidents
- Advising clients on suitable activities they should perform to get better
- Helping clients with permanent disabilities adapt to their situations
- Handling special therapy equipment and teaching patients how to use them
- Keeping records on clients’ progress and giving feedback to occupational therapists
Occupational therapy support workers work 37 to 38 hours a week, Monday through Friday. Opportunities for part-time and job sharing are also available.
They can work in diverse settings, raging work from hospitals and residential care facilities to nursing homes and clients’ own homes.
Salaries for occupational therapy support workers vary with the level of job experience as shown below:
Level of experience
Newly qualified support workers
£16,000 - £19,000
Experienced support workers
£22,000 or more.
Source: National Careers Service
To get started as an occupational therapy support worker, you can follow any of the following three routes;
- Have GCSEs in English and maths, and previous healthcare or social work experience
- Take college courses, such as the Level 2 Diploma in Health and Social Care, NVQ Level 2 or 3 in Health and Social Care or the BTEC Diploma in Health and Social Care
- Alternatively you could complete an apprenticeship scheme such as the Allied Health Profession Support- apprenticeship scheme.
Important Skills and Abilities
To become an effective occupational therapy support worker you should have:
- Strong interpersonal skills to relate with people from all backgrounds effectively
- Good listening and speaking skills
- Good time management skills
- A genuine desire to help people recover from their problems
- Good teamwork skills
- The ability to keep clear and accurate records
- Patience and empathy
Training and Development
Many employers of occupational therapy support workers provide on-the-job training to newly hired professionals. Depending on your employer, you may have the opportunity to obtain a certificate or diploma in Clinical Healthcare Support.
To increase your chances of progressing in your career or becoming an occupational therapist you can pursue the following options:
- Pursue the HNC in Occupational Therapy Support – This is the only distance learning course that is recognized by the British Association of Occupational Therapists and College of Occupational Therapists. It is offered by the Glasgow Clyde College .
- Pursue a degree in health and social care, occupational health or a closely related field.
- Register with the British Association of Occupational Therapists – You will gain access to professional development prospects.
As a qualified occupational therapy support worker, you will find work opportunities in:
- The NHS
- Local authorities
- Private healthcare centers
- Charitable organizations.
With at least four years’ experience and advanced academic qualifications, you could be registered as an occupational therapist.
Check out the following links for further information and job vacancies:
So, why is this career a good fit for you? First, you will be able to put your interest in helping people into practice. Second, by 2020, the National Career Services predicts that there will be about 250,000 job vacancies in UK’s caring services industry. After obtaining the qualifications, finding work will be least of your worries!