United Kingdom National OT News

News from the United Kingdom, 2019

In the UK, over the last four years the Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT) has focused on raising the profile of the profession through a public affairs awareness raising campaign – Occupational Therapy: Improving Lives, Saving Money (OT:ILSM). In total, nine influencing reports have been produced, each containing compelling data showcasing the positive impact of the profession.

So four years on, what have we learnt?

Collecting evidence of impact was a challenge. Anecdotally, we knew how occupational therapy can improve peoples’ lives and in doing so, save money for the public purse, but we needed to collect evidence. A template was designed. Member ‘How to’ guides were produced. RCOT ran workshops, tackling difficult questions, such as ‘How do you financially cost the benefits of prevention?’ As the campaign progressed, members became expert at articulating the value of occupational therapy.

Hitting the right Policy note. Sending reports to key stakeholders serve to explain how the profession fits into the policy landscape. Awareness has risen significantly. Our report events now attract greater numbers of relevant stakeholders, government ministers have visited occupational therapy services and recalled these visits in their speeches.

Timing of the report publication was crucial. For example: in Winter, when pressure on hospital beds are at a maximum, we published our Reducing the pressure on hospitals report showing how occupational therapists work to keep people out of hospital.  An example showing a 76% reduction in hospital admissions for people who have fallen when an occupational therapist attends emergency ambulance calls.

Never underestimate the power of a good story. People’s stories matter. Facts, figures and data are easily forgotten but a good story stays with you. Stories not only show how people’s lives were dramatically improved by occupational therapy input, but they also help people understand what we do.

Keep messages simple. Consistency is key. Our reports now reflect a few key messages which are used consistently in all our communications with stakeholders. Common themes from the reports have now become overarching recommendations for the profession:

RCOT has learnt much during the course of the campaign but we are not standing still. As the OT:ILSM campaign draws to a close, we are busy preparing for the launch of our new campaign ready for Occupational Therapy Week in November! Watch the RCOT website for more news.

To read the reports:  https://www.rcot.co.uk/promoting-occupational-therapy/occupational-therapy-improving-lives-saving-money

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