7th August 2014

Occupational Therapy helps patients stay at home

People with life-threatening illnesses are able to stay independent and at home for as long as possible, thanks to the package of care offered by St Richard’s Hospice.

The hospice’s two part-time Occupational Therapists are an integral part of this care and support, helping patients to stay at home by working out practical solutions so that they can manage everyday tasks such as dressing, washing and cooking.

Patients attending the hospice’s Out-patient clinics or Day Hospice can speak to the Occupational Therapists about any challenges they are facing. Together, we discuss possible solutions, which may involve approaching the activity in a different way, such as sitting down while getting dressed or washed, or by using devices that make the activity easier or help improve confidence.

Working with patients being cared for at the hospice’s In-patient Unit and their families, we are able to support those being discharged home with advice and special equipment to help them carry out day to day activities. The benefit of the Occupational Therapists being based in the hospice is that we are able to act quickly. This means that patients who are well enough to return home, can do so as soon as possible.

A home visit will assess the patient’s individual needs, and possible solutions to any particular challenges are discussed. For example, patients may require pressure relieving mattresses or cushions to improve comfort while sleeping. Equipment to help with washing or using the toilet such as bath seats, commodes and raised toilet seats can also be provided.

Any equipment required to support independent living can be requested free of charge to the patient from a social services and health funded service which offers a wide range of appliances on a loan basis. If equipment is urgently needed, we can fast track an order which may make it easier for patients to spend their last days at home if this is their wish. The service has comprehensive criteria set out for qualifying patients, and we work through these to ensure that appropriate equipment can be provided wherever possible.

Many patients with life-threating illnesses tell us that tiredness, anxiety and breathlessness affects how they can manage everyday tasks or stops them taking part in their favourite pastimes. Advice on relaxation and how to take things slowly can help people be as independent as possible and gain continuing enjoyment from their hobbies.