Occupational therapists are key professionals in a variety of settings, including care homes, according to the latest report.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has highlighted the importance of having such expertise when looking after elderly and vulnerable patients. It comes as part of an initiative across England to urge councils to ensure they are providing meaningful and person-centred activities in care homes. This, according to the body, will guarantee that each local authority is meeting its safeguarding responsibilities.
The latest announcement is part of a briefing to local government from NICE, which emphasised the importance of involving occupational therapists when trying to improve the general health of people living in care homes. It also stated that a lack of meaningful activity can suggest a wider pattern of neglect.
As well as improving the standard of care, and safeguarding the health of people in care homes, NICE states that providing more meaningful and person-centred activities could also reduce the cost of care. In addition, it would also potentially help people keep their independence for as long possible, and support councils in their duty of providing care to residents.
Karin Tancock, a professional adviser at the College of Occupational Therapists (COT), said: “These recommendations from NICE leave no doubt about the necessity for meaningful activity in care homes. We welcome the clear action points for Councils which includes embedding occupational therapy in their strategy to deliver good standards of care for residents.”
She said keeping mentally and physically occupied is “a human need” and unless this is supported by care home residents their health is at serious risk.
“We call on our partners in social care to work with occupational therapists in their area to give people in care homes fair access to meaningful and person centred activities,” Ms Tancock added.
The College of Occupational Therapists has produced a free Living Well Through Activity for Care Homes Toolkit providing practical steps and advice to increase activity in care homes. It includes specific guides for care home inspectors, owners, managers and staff and resources for residents and their families.