#OTalk 11th November 2014 – Meeting the physical health needs of individuals with mental health problems

Equipment Training for OTs working in mental health

Date:  11/11/2014   Host: @GeekyOT

Blog Post  –  Transcript

Earlier this year, I met Alison Clements (@AHP_SWYPFTat the College of Occupational Therapists annual conference in Brighton. I was interested to hear about the work she’d been doing in supporting occupational therapists working in mental health to enhance their skills/confidence in equipment provision. I’m glad she’s agreed to host this #OTalk, so we can think about how mental health OTs meet the physical health needs of their service users (whether with equipment, or other interventions).

– Clarissa

Alison has kindly agreed to share her conference poster with us.

Aim of the discussion

To reflection on the subject; meeting the physical health needs of individuals with mental health problems.

Equipment training for mental health OT’s

The OT Professional Leads working for a mental health Trust were involved in supporting OT’s to refresh their knowledge and skills to be able to safely provide equipment for mental health service users with physical health difficulties. The need to address the physical and mental health needs of service users has been emphasised by documents such ‘No health without mental health’ (DOH 2011). Service user experience should be at the heart of care, offering timely access to treatment. COT states that ‘a holistic, client centred occupational philosophy should inform our practise’ (COT 2010), therefore, when an OT is working with an individual to address their mental health needs, physical health needs should also be considered. This also prevents unnecessary referral on to other services and delays in treatment. This project was initiated following concerns that inconsistencies existed amongst OT staff in the Trust whether they were undertaking the assessment and provision of equipment in cases where there was an identified need and whether they have the skills to safely assess and issue equipment. A survey was conducted to establish the percentage of staff who were involved in the assessment and provision equipment, frequency of provision and to gauge staffs confidence when doing this. The Leads sought to achieve a minimum standard of competence for all 80 OT’s across Trust through delivering equipment training. A list of the key pieces of equipment that OT’s in the Trust should be competent to issue was developed; bathing, toileting, seating, bed and access. The training was delivered in 2 phases. Some of the OTs completed a 2 day training course and became ‘champions’. The training was then cascaded to the remaining OT’s using buddying system. During the training the OT Leads came across issues around willingness to engage, however, the training evaluations showed that most staff who completed the training felt more confident in their skills.


Why do we need to consider physical health needs when working with people with mental health problems?

What is people’s experience of addressing the physical health needs of individuals with mental health problems?

Is there a potential problem with becoming too specialised? Could this lead to staff feeling de-skilled?

How can we ensure that we do consider the physical health needs of individuals with mental health problems? What are the top tips?


Department of Health (2011) No health without mental health: A call to Action. Available from: www.dh.gov.uk (Accessed 19/9/13)

College of Occupational Therapy (2010) Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. London. COT.

Discussion facilitator:

Alison Clements. OT Professional Lead. South West Yorkshire Partnerships NHS foundation Trust.

Other people involved: Mandy Graham. Senior Lecturer. Leeds Beckett University. Former OT Professional Lead. South West Yorkshire Partnerships NHS foundation Trust

Thank you to everyone who joined in the chat.

#OTalk Participants

The Numbers

939,832 Impressions
577 Tweets
60 Participants

You can view the transcript of the chat at this link  (opens in new window) or download the PDF.


  1. Pingback: Physical and Mental Health: Bridging the Gap | shamelessotgeek

  2. Pingback: 12 Days of #OTalk (2014) | shamelessotgeek

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