It Should Be Compulsory For Wards To Have An Occupational Therapist

You are sectioned under the mental health act and forced to spend weeks or even months in the same mental health ward. Is medication and a bed really all you need? No, it isn’t.

I have been on a few different wards, on the wards with an occupational therapist (OT) the hospital admission was much easier because there were distractions and positive moments, things to break up incredibly boring days but also skills that I could take home with me. I learnt that yoga and breathing exercises could help me relax, that art and creativity could take my mind off of things for a while and that a walk in the fresh air can help to de-stress. I found my two month stay in hospital a very long time and even with an OT there wasn’t enough activities going on but the patient meetings and art groups and word games broke up a lot of very long days and made it easier to get through.

On one ward there was not an OT, there had been an OT on my first admission but she left and wasn’t replaced, there may be a replacement now but I know that for 18 months there was not a replacement. This is not acceptable. There were no activites, no distractions, no skills being taught. I simply laid in my bed and took medication and that alone is not another to get someone well enough to go home or to prevent them from becoming a ‘revolving door patient’.

It’s not only the boredom busters that make OTs important, after a long time spent struggling with mental illness and several weeks or months stuck in hospital, day-to-day living skills can be lacking. OTs can help people get out of the ward and begin to do everyday tasks such as going to the supermarket in preparation for their discharge. OTs can help people learn to wash and dry their clothes or learn to cook themselves food, budgeting. The list goes on, OTs are so important when it comes to recovering from a mental health problem.

You couldn’t run a ward without nurses and doctors, OTs should be a compulsory part of the staffing. 18 months will have seen many people slip through the net on that ward. It shouldn’t have happened and I do not believe it took 18 months to find a suitable candidate into today’s employment environment. You cannot provide a patient with a good quality care plan if you do not have an OT working on the ward.