Shortage of occupational therapists highlighted in inquiry into housing and care for older people
A new report from The All Party Parliamentary Group on Housing and Care for Older People calls on government to take urgent action to enable older people to live well at home. The report follows an inquiry into the barriers faced by older people who want to stay in their own home, but are struggling to do so. Among the obstacles found were:
- delays and duplication in assessments of what an individual needs
- insufficient funds for preventative home care, and inflexibility in administering personalised support
- shortages of Disabled Facilities Grants for home adaptations (and of occupational therapists to advise on them)
- under-resourced – and relatively few – home improvement agencies and handy-person schemes to get things done for older home owners.
The report makes 17 recommendations to government for developing and improving services for older people including greater personalisation of care so that are individuals can have greater choice and control over services and closer integration of service across housing, health and social care. More specifically the APPG recommends 'that local statutory, voluntary and commercial housing, health and social care, along with professional bodies such as Foundations and the College of Occupational Therapists, should produce joint good practice guidelines and procedures that facilitate effective, person-centred, transfer of care back home following a hospital admission.'
'We are fully behind APPG’s call for urgent action to enable older people to live well at home and their recognition of Occupational Therapists’ role in this,' said Julia Scott, Chief Executive, College of Occupational Therapists.
'As Occupational Therapists we are key to unlocking dependency on hospital services, residential or nursing care. We are experts at adapting the home, removing obstacles to independent living and working with older people to live life their way. These are exactly the areas in which OTs have unique skills and expertise. It is vital the Government work with us at this crucial time in health and social care reform. Together we can provide a sustainable and cost effective solution to caring for older people so that they can stay where they most want to be, in their own home.
'Older age can bring many challenges, from managing complex long term conditions and social isolation to simply finding day to day tasks more difficult. Occupational Therapists consider the physical, psychological, social, and environmental needs and wishes of each person and address how their chosen occupations can be maintained to increase independence, choice, and quality of life. Importantly they also provide a good link between health and social care services, signposting older people to the range of support available.
'Our home is a huge part of who we are, it’s a place of comfort, safety and familiarity.” continued Julia Scott.“ Leaving this behind can have a detrimental effect on older people and is frequently unnecessary. By investing more in Occupational Therapy the government can make significant long term savings by reducing the risk of falls and accidents, avoiding premature admissions to nursing or residential care and unnecessary, and costly, hospital admissions.'
To read the full report go to http://www.counselandcare.org.uk/appg-on-housing-and-care-for-older-people