Today the morning television was filled with headlines stating that the NHS is discharging patients too early which is impacting upon their safety. Figures stated that in a period of 30 days there are an average of one million readmissions which costs the NHS approximately £2.4 billion annually. Our knowledge and experience as health professionals makes us all too aware that this is a huge issue, but certainly not a new one. Although it is pleasing to see that the impact of disjointed practice and a lack of holistic approach is being recognized, it was frustrating to listen to a panel of Doctors and NHS England representatives discuss the need for a hybrid between health and social care to address these issues and no one mention Occupational Therapy; a profession which strives to maintain that balance between health issues and the maintenance of a persons function as part of its core values.
Within any occupational therapy assessment, a persons’ social situation, support systems in addition to their functional ability are inter-linked at the very centre of it. In acute settings OTs often take a lead on discharge planning, as they are the profession who has insight into the realistic picture for that individual upon leaving the hospital. The shortage of beds is a continual crisis and therefore timely discharge remains of utmost importance for all health professions from the moment of admission, but as today’s statistic highlights to us, this needs to be safe, with all the prevalent considerations for the specific individual accounted for.
This timely feature follows the release of Jeremy Hunts 25 year vision for the NHS stating the need for a more ‘human’ NHS but with large focus on increasing Doctors to 7-day working. As today’s information alerts, primary health care is no longer reliant purely upon our medical colleagues, as without improved resources within the wider multi-disciplinary team such change will not be adequately supported to address the issues such as failing discharges.
As Occupational Therapists, we are proud to be leading by example with striving for a person-centered approach in all aspects of healthcare. Following a hospital stay, a person may have become deconditioned and no longer functioning at their previous ability in everyday tasks. At OT Partners we are skilled in the assessment and rehabilitation of individuals both with long and short-term conditions. We can provide advice and treatment strategies on how to maximise your independence within a large spectrum of activities; from going about your daily activities within the home to greater challenges such as returning to work. We hope that as time goes on, the awareness of the vital role Occupational Therapy plays within healthcare will continue to rise and it is given the recognition it deserves. With appropriate staffing and resources Occupational Therapy has the potential to lead by example for future Allied Health Professionals.