Innovative occupational therapy service in Pembroke Dock celebrated in national report


The introduction of an occupational therapist to the team at Argyle Medical Group (Pembroke Dock) has been featured in a national report celebrating the value of innovative occupational therapy services.
The report, Reducing the Pressure on Hospitals: A Report on the Value of Occupational Therapy in Wales, illustrates how shifting occupational therapy resource to the front line of care to A&E departments, primary care and in the community, can play a vital role in reducing hospital admissions in Wales.
Working in partnership with Hywel Dda UHB’s Occupational Therapy Team, the introduction of an occupational therapist at the Pembroke Dock GP practice has provided this vital service as a proactive and alternative way of caring for the practice’s known frail, older patients in the community.
Claire Sims, Interim Head of Occupational Therapy for Hywel Dda UHB and Pembrokeshire County Council, explains: “Occupational therapy provides support to people whose health or disability prevents them doing the activities that matter to them. This may be because of a medical condition such as rheumatoid arthritis; a learning disability; or mental health condition.
“Introducing an occupational therapist to the Argyle Medical Group, which has a large number of registered patients, was an ideal opportunity to trial a new way of working.
“Since patients have had the opportunity to be visited by an occupational therapist, we have seen a reduction in demand on GPs and practice nurses.
“Treatment at an early stage has helped health and social services address and resolve underlying issues that in turn has reduced the number of situations reaching a crisis point that may have required multiple GP appointments or even hospital admission.”
The trial has been so successful that two further occupational therapists will join the practice.
To date, Argyle Medical Group has noted:
- a reduction in repeat visits to the surgery
- patients avoided hospital admission following assessment by the occupational therapist, based on a GP’s professional opinion
- patients who saw the occupational therapist following a hospital admission were reviewed after four weeks and none had been re-admitted and only two had contacted a GP
- 81% of patients seen who had fallen reported increased safety and confidence in their ability to undertake everyday activities
- 92% of patients seen reported no falls in the four weeks following occupational therapy intervention
Dr Richard Bury, GP at Argyle Medical Group, added: “Having an occupational therapist attached to the practice is a fantastic resource that has been greatly underused by primary care - but that is where they should be based.
“Most of the referrals need quick turnaround as the problems are acute. The saving in social admissions and improved self-confidence for patients and families has already been noticed.
“The occupational therapist is able to respond appropriately in that 24 hour period, liaise with appropriate people to deal with the individual, and is a great source of information as to what the third sector has available to help people remain at home safely and comfortably.
“We are now recruiting for two more occupational therapists for South Pembrokeshire as the trial was so successful and hope they will become an integral part of our primary health care team.”
Dr Jennifer Boyce, GP at Argyle Medical Practice added: “An experienced occupational therapist working directly in our practice has prevented unnecessary admissions for patients through the prompt review, often on the same day.
“It has reduced the number of times some patients were calling for a GP visit thus better utilising the GP’s time.
“It has been a signposting service ensuring that the most appropriate member of the multidisciplinary team sees patients; it has also enhanced use of the third sector services.
“The occupational therapist has provided a wealth of experience, expertise and knowledge to the practice that was either unknown or under-utilised.”

To read the report, published as part of the College of Occupational Therapists’ “Improving Lives Saving Money” campaign, visit www.cot.co.uk/homepage/ilsmand to hear more about the ground breaking work which was featured on BBC Radio and the Wales Report
visit http://cotimprovinglives.com/valueofot-campaign- report-wales-media-coverage.

Photo: Claire Raymond, Occupational therapist and Bethan Calas, Occupational therapist

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