Occupational therapists in Northern Ireland demonstrate innovative practice to HRH The Princess Royal
Occupational therapists in Northern Ireland showcased their innovative work to HRH The Princess Royal during her visit to Parliament Buildings, Belfast as Patron of the College of Occupational Therapists on 7 March. They presented successful methods of practice across all programmes of care which are directly improving the health and wellbeing of people across Northern Ireland, enhancing their quality of life and offering a more efficient and cost effective way of working. Occupational Therapists also met Edwin Poots, Health Minister in Northern Ireland and the driving force behind ‘Transforming your Care’ the new five year vision of health and social care.
Occupational therapists work in a person centred way to maintain, enable or re enable a person’s ability to function within their own environment and carry out activities and occupations which are meaningful and purposeful to them. These can be daily tasks such as washing and dressing, to working, socialising or taking part in a hobby.
Edwin Poots said: “I am aware of the valuable contribution occupational therapy makes to the delivery of care to service users, their families and carers, across all age ranges, babies, children and adults, and across a wide range of care settings. Today is a celebration of the excellent work occupational therapists (OTs) contribute to everyone in need of health and social care in Northern Ireland.”
Liz Mc Nabney, Chair of the Northern Ireland Management Forum, College of Occupational Therapists said: “This visit has been very welcome and Occupational Therapists are extremely encouraged by the interest in their work. We are delighted to demonstrate how Occupational Therapists are responding to a new direction in health and social care which is responsive, innovative and person-centred. We are very much at the heart of delivering the new strategy for health and social care through health promotion, prevention and early intervention.”
Occupational Therapists were joined by William Hay MLA, Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Naomi Hankinson, Chair of Council, British Association and College of Occupational Therapists, Julia Scott, Chief Executive, College of Occupational Therapists, Liz McNabney, Chair, Occupational Therapy Managers’ Forum, Northern Ireland and Carolyn Maxwell, Chair of the Northern Ireland Board, College of Occupational Therapists.
The Princess Royal and guests watched occupational therapists and service users demonstrate some of the innovative work in progress. Demonstrations will include the ‘Mirror Box’, a new technique used in stroke rehabilitation, in which the patient places their affected arm into a covered box to exclude it from their vision. There is a mirror on the side of the box into which the patient watches as they carry out activities using their unaffected side. The mirror image of their non-affected arm stimulates the brain into thinking their affected arm is moving. Research evidence has shown that Mirror Box therapy can contribute to the improvement of upper limb function through both movement and mental stimulation. Other projects include a Postural Management Service for people with learning disabilities, a training programme for wheelchair users and an EASI (Emotions, Autism and Sensory Integration) scheme to help adolescents with Asperger’s Syndrome understand and manage their emotional responses.
Carolyn Maxwell, Chair of the Occupational Therapists’ Northern Ireland Board added: “I would urge policy makers and commissioners to be aware of the significant role and contribution of occupational therapy in improving the health and well being of the population. People are living longer and many adults, as well as children are coping with multiple and complex long term conditions. This work shows occupational therapy helping people to live their lives to the full, putting each individual in the driving seat and giving them the independence to carry out activities and occupations which are meaningful to them.”
View photos below and you can see presentations from the day here.