BLOG: “We’re giving people a renewed sense of purpose”
For national Occupational Therapy (OT Week, we’re shining a light on the important work Liverpool City Council’s OT staff do, helping many of our residents. Here, on of our OTs Craig Taylor blogs on removing barriers to improving people’s health…
Health equity means that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be healthy.
This requires removing obstacles such as poverty, discrimination and their consequences, including powerlessness and lack of access to good jobs with fair pay, quality education and housing, safe environments, and health care.
Occupational Therapists help people of all ages overcome the effects of disability caused by illness, aging or accidents, so that they can carry out everyday tasks or jobs.
We consider all of the person’s needs – psychological, social and environmental. This support can make a real difference, giving people a renewed sense of purpose, opening up new horizons, and changing the way they feel about the future.
I’ve worked in physical health services, mental health services, private care and for Liverpool City Council and can truly say that the aim of occupational therapy remains the same throughout – supporting a person to achieve maximum health.
Thinking about your day-to-day life, would you be able to cope or live fully if you didn’t have access to the internet? Or couldn’t get out of bed? Or couldn’t physically leave your home to attend important appointments? What impact would this have on your physical and mental health? How would you overcome these barriers?
An Occupational Therapist will complete a strength-based assessment to identify what you can do, what difficulties you experience, what is important to you and what can be done to promote your health and well-being.
Coming from a health background, I understand a multitude of conditions and the impact they can have on a person’s health and how this may change over time.
Within Liverpool City Council’s Adult Social Care department, we use the Social Model of Disability as a way of viewing the world. It says that people are disabled by barriers in society, so we focus on how we can change things around a person to enable them to achieve full health.
Occupational Therapists work with many professionals. We signpost people to services to ensure they engage in activities that have value and purpose, boosting health and well-being.
Every day is different. Last week I saw a client who was experiencing great difficulty accessing the upstairs of her home. As her home couldn’t be adapted, I made a referral to Access Housing, who will now help her find a more suitable property, promoting health equity by providing a safe environment.
The following day, I saw a person with complex health needs who required a level access shower, wash and dry toilet, ramp to the front of the home and a referral to wheelchair services.
Creating a more accessible and safer environment is linked to good health and well-being – so although the outcome was different to the previous client, the approach was the same.
My clients are aged 18+ and come from different backgrounds in terms of education, culture and religion. I’ve always adopted a client-centred approach – enabling them to tell their stories, share their values and acknowledge what’s important to them. Non-discriminatory and non-judgmental practice is always adhered to, as part of the Occupational Therapy code of ethics.
During assessments, I explore financial support/benefits and frequently signpost people towards the council’s Benefits Maximisation Team, to prevent financial hardship and poverty.
These last couple of years have shown that communities can join forces in difficult times – such as during a pandemic – and work together to ensure that we can all be as healthy as possible. After all, one of the council’s aims is ‘a healthier, happier, fairer Liverpool for all’.