11th June 2020

AWARDS: Developing occupational therapy contribution to COVID-19 management

The COVID-19 epidemic has brought many challenges to services over the past weeks and months, however these challenges have also brought the innovative spirit of occupational therapists to the fore.

At the end of April the Elizabeth Casson Trust issued a call for proposals that asked you to consider new ideas and ways of working to develop the contribution of occupational therapists in COVID-19 management – and you responded. The Trust received a substantial number of applications that were creative, thoughtful and responsive to local conditions.

A panel of trustees reviewed the proposals and discussed the merits of each idea. Four proposals are being taken forward for immediate funding and a summary of each is shown below.

We also know that some service needs may only now be emerging so we have a second application round that closes on July 9. Could your idea be the next one funded?

As a profession we can all be very proud of our response to deliver the best care for those affected by the current epidemic. Well done OTs and a special congratulations to the grant recipients Sam, Sarah, Alicia and Lisa!

Samantha Armitage, Advanced Occupational Therapist, Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust

This project aims to identify, describe and evaluate the impact of telehealth in children’s therapy services during COVID-19 to inform its effective and appropriate present and future use. COVID-19 and the related restrictions and demands on practice and patients have resulted in a rapid shift from almost exclusively direct face-to-face contact to remote therapy. Scoping of clinical networks indicates that telehealth has been used to deliver a wide range of therapy during COVID-19 restrictions, including feeding assessments, therapy programmes, postural care, equipment management and health promotion. This has led to significant NHS investment in telehealth.

Project Aims:

  • Describe the use of telehealth in children’s therapy services (with whom, for what ends, and in what situations)
  • Identify the consequences of telehealth on therapy services, children and parents.
  • Map the role of telehealth in children’s therapy (rationale, process, expected outcomes by families, therapists and service managers)
  • Deliver a report on the drivers, facilitators, and barriers to implementation of telehealth for children’s allied health professional services and potential health outcomes. The report will include an executive summary with recommendations for practice and research.

Sarah Bodell, Senior Lecturer, University of Salford

This project is situated in Greater Manchester. It aims to create a community of practice of occupational therapists and social prescribers, so that they can better understand each other’s roles, and establish clear pathways to facilitate working together more effectively on COVID-19 community rehabilitation.  Occupational therapists and link workers have different skills, approaches and education, but share an understanding of the importance of enabling people to connect with each other and their communities, in the pursuit of doing things that feel meaningful and important to them. They are both considered key to supporting the rehabilitation and wellbeing of people affected physically and/or mentally by COVID-19, and who are recovering in their own homes and communities during a time of restriction and reduced connection with others. (Centre for Evidence Based Medicine 2020, RCOT 2020).

Project Aims:

  • Focus on Greater Manchester Social prescribers and community occupational therapists due to its high incidence of COVID-19, and established links with community OTs and social prescribers.
  • Be delivered by an occupational therapist and a link worker.
  • Facilitate team working between local OTs and link workers, enabling them to understand, value and maximise each other’s contributions to COVID-19 rehabilitation.
  • Highlight local referral pathways, including gaps, challenges and blocks, and enable participants to develop problem solving action plans where these exist.
  • Serve to provide proof of concept for potential wider adoption by Occupational therapists and link workers around the UK.

Alicia Ridout, Independent practitioner

This project will deliver a digital tool to aid the assessment of appropriate, safe digital interventions both with and for service users post COVID-19 peak/lockdown.

This area of practice has seen an unprecedented leap in implementation without deployment training/support. Patient safety needs to be addressed at all points in the life cycle of digital products but in particular at implementation (Sittig, 20201). The outcome will support a digital ‘learning by doing’ approach in the field for the coming 12-15 months as COVID-19 interventions are honed.

Project Aims:

  • To develop an onboarding practice guide for Occupational Therapists (OT) supporting the digital goals of people with COVID-19 at home/in the community where digital solutions are now needed
  • To build a digital (modular) version of the guide for OT, accessible on their preferred mobile device for use in daily practice, building competency to existing standards for digital use in health and care
  • To integrate feedback and quality improvement (PDSA) elements in the guide to support the gathering of data to add insight into future occupational practice requirements in this domain.

Dr Lisa Taylor, Associated Professor, & Charmaine Chandler, Lecturer, University of East Anglia

Rehabilitation Entrenched Community Integration Programme Evaluation (RECIPE): A pilot study evaluating a novel model of practice placement for 1st and 2nd year pre-registration MSc Occupational Therapy students to support local community health and social care service providers with an NHS Right Care needs led service delivery model and Right to Rehab principles, to address increased rehabilitation service demand post COVID-19.

Project Aims:

  • To provide our students with a novel quality practice placement experience based on a community based student led community rehabilitation clinic, focussed on specific Occupational Therapy interventions, delivered face to face or a mix of telehealth and face to face or completely telehealth – depending on social distancing measures at that point in time.
  • To provide the 2nd year students the opportunity to develop their employability attributes that they struggle with upon graduation i.e. supervision and leadership through the adoption of the peer assisted learning model within a clinic based setting.
  • To provide a more efficient model of clinical educator supervision for services at a time of great pressure post COVID-19, and to help ease current and future placement capacity issues too.
  • To adopt and audit the implementation of the NHS Right Care Community Rehabilitation Tool and align with the Right to Rehab manifesto both introduced Nationwide in early 2020.
  • To develop a placement model that supports and contributes towards an occupational therapy focussed local community rehabilitation service delivery post COVID-19. This model of delivery will contribute to the rehabilitation pathway as the demand on rehabilitation services is predicted to be significant in the coming months.
  • To aim to provide an occupational therapy focussed community service delivery that integrates health and social service users.



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