In their own words: OT magic

14 Mar 2017 Amyholgate

Jennifer Cave-Ayland (Team Leader). From Community Therapy Service, Knowle Clinic: occupational therapy and physiotherapy in a person’s home or a community setting.

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime’. This is a great way of explaining OT. We don’t do things for people. We enable them to take control of their condition and their life.

We provide practical support to help people overcome barriers that prevent them from doing the activities (occupations) that matter to them. Occupations are all the things we do during the day, from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to bed. The barriers can be physical, psychological or social.

When a patient is referred to us, it may be because they have one difficulty, like getting out of bed. But often we meet them and can help with much more: gripping the stylus for a Nintendo DS; managing fatigue; carrying out the weekly shop; caring for a pet…”


Emily, Jane and Rhianydd
L-R: Jane White and Emily Houten (OTs) and Rhianydd Carter (student). From Rapid Response Team (East): intervention for acutely unwell people in their own homes to avoid unnecessary hospital admissions.

Jane: “Our role is really rewarding because we help keep people safe in their own homes. A patient was referred to us right before Christmas by a GP – he had been stuck in his chair for days. Using some equipment we helped him transfer out of his chair. The patient hadn’t slept in a bed for several weeks and we were able to get a hospital bed delivered the same day. This prevented an unnecessary hospital admission over Christmas and meant that the patient could safely have his care needs met.”

Rhianydd: “OT gives people autonomy over their lives. Sometimes all people need is guidance, a piece of equipment or help from other people to do the things they love. Although OT seems like common sense (which, at times, it can be), it’s actually really complex – because people are complex. It can help bridge the gap between occupation, the person and the environment. That’s why I love it.”


Amanda Bennett
Amanda Bennett (Team Leader). From REACT: co-located with emergency departments to help people home with support.

“OT takes a whole-person approach to both mental and physical health and wellbeing, enabling individuals to achieve their full potential. OTs are truly holistic. We secretly and subconsciously analyse every aspect of the situation.

When a patient is unable to get his shoes on, for example, we ask ourselves things like: could they manage this before? Are they unable to bend, and why? Are they feeling dizzy? Are they motivated to do it? If not, why not? Can they do all or part of task? Is it a cognitive or physical issue? Are they actually trying to show me they need my help?”

Find out more about OT

  • Read about Hazel, who was helped by our OTs, nurses and physios to leave the emergency department and avoid admission to the Bristol Royal Infirmary.
  • Find out more about our community services here.