#OTalk Research 3rd March 2020 – What is commercial research and is there a role for occupational therapy?

This #OTalk will be led by Dr Jenny Preston, Consultant Occupational Therapist @preston_jenny

Research studies are generally classified within two main categories:

  1. Commercial
  2. Non-commercial

Commercial research is the term used to describe studies that are sponsored and funded by pharmaceutical companies or biotech industry for commercial purposes.  If the study is sponsored by the NHS or an Academic Institution then it is defined as non-commercial research.  

Clinical trials are essential to the development of beneficial treatments for NHS patients as the consumers of medicine and healthcare.  Clinical trials supported by the pharmaceutical industry play an important part in keeping the NHS at the forefront of modern treatments and research (NHS R&D Forum, 2005).  In addition, commercial research activity offers clinicians early access to the latest technologies for diagnosing and treating disease and is essential for the development of new medicines and healthcare technologies.  

Research active occupational therapists are more likely to engage in non-commercial research studies although there are increasing opportunities for occupational therapists, as part of clinical research teams to become involved in commercial research.  The Government is committed to promoting partnerships between the NHS and other funders of R&D, for the benefit of the health and wealth of the nation. The NHS is encouraged to support commercially sponsored research and views it as an opportunity to: 

  • Participate in drug and device development 
  • Evaluate new equipment 
  • Become involved with the development of improved treatment for current and future NHS patients 
  • Promote partnerships between the NHS and commercial research sponsors
  • Generate income for re-investment back into research, facilities and patient care 
  • Attract and retain staff 

Research-active NHS Trusts that value participation in commercial research as an element of their clinical research portfolio should ensure that their management arrangements can support the necessary work involved in negotiations and trial co-ordination. A Trust must recognise that for the pharmaceutical, device, or equipment industry to consider the Trust a suitable site to participate in commercial clinical trials, it must be able to demonstrate that it can (NHS R&D Forum, 2005) : 

  • Provide the service that the sponsor requires 
  • Provide the service to an appropriate level of quality 
  • Provide the service at the right price 
  • Ensure the sponsor is made aware of the service that is available 

Throughout this chat we will consider the potential opportunities for occupational therapists to become involved in commercial research through discussion of the following questions:

  • Do you have any experience of commercial research?
  • What sorts of tasks were you involved in?
  • How did you get involved in commercial research?
  • What were the benefits and challenges?
  • Are there any ethical concerns or conflicts of interest for occupational therapists?
  • Is there any additional training required to engage in commercial research?


Online Transcript

#OTalk Transcript March 3rd 2020

The Numbers

226.226K Impressions
40 Tweets
12 Participants
32 Avg Tweets/Hour
Avg Tweets/Participant

#OTalk Participants


#OTalk Tuesday 25 February 2020 with @RCOT_NP Specialist Section Neurological Practice – Stroke Forum Vision and Stroke – the contributions of orthoptists and occupational therapists

This week @RCOT_NP are hosting this is what they had to say
Two-thirds of individuals experience changes in their vision after a stroke. This can be due to reduced central vision, a defect in the control of ocular muscles, visual field loss and changes in the way that the brain processes visual information (visual perception). For most people, vision is essential for occupations and occupational therapists often become involved when changes to vision affect performance and independence. Assessments of visual perception have long been considered by occupational therapists to be their domain, however, without specialist knowledge of vision, there is a risk of inaccurate conclusions being drawn from assessment findings.
Orthoptists are allied health professionals who are experts in how the eyes move and work together. They are specialists in assessing vision and have an expert understanding of how neurological deficits affect how people see (British and Irish Orthoptic Society (BIOS) website – https://www.orthoptics.org.uk/about-us/). Orthoptists work with adults and children with a wide range of conditions which affect vision but they are particularly valued in stroke assessment and rehabilitation as their contribution can inform the person with stroke, the family and the multidisciplinary team, on how to manage vision to optimise the benefit of rehabilitation.
We are delighted that our orthoptist colleagues representing BIOS are joining us for this tweetchat. We will be using the usual format with introductions followed by four questions.  Each question is usually tweeted at 15 minute intervals but for this tweetchat, we will be allowing more time for questions one and four. The questions are:
1. How can vision be affected after stroke?
2. What is the role of the orthoptist with people following a stroke?
3. What is the role of the occupational therapist when a stroke has affected a person’s vision?
4. What intervention and management strategies are provided by orthoptists and occupational therapists for people whose vision has been affected by stroke?
We look forward to interacting with your tweets and to welcoming orthoptists to this OTalk session.


Online Transcript

#OTalk Healthcare Social Media Transcript February 25th 2020

The Numbers

1.487M Impressions
518 Tweets
68 Participants
22 Avg Tweets/Hour
Avg Tweets/Participant

#OTalk Participants


Welcome to our new Intern Ruth #OTalk

Hi there, I’m Ruth and I’m thrilled to be the new intern for #OTalk.  I work part time for the University of Derby teaching on their Occupational Therapy programmes.   Prior to this role I worked for 19 years in the NHS in mental health care across in-patient, day hospital and community settings, including a period of 13 years within an Early Intervention in Psychosis team.
I am enthusiastic and passionate about many aspects of occupational therapy but have particular interests in mental health, psychosis, homelessness, occupational therapy education, practice education/ placements and emerging roles for occupational therapy.   When I am not working I volunteer at my local foodbank most weeks, and at a temporary homeless night shelter over the winter months.  I am a keen lover of the value of occupations and try to find time each week to do some of my favourite occupations such as nature walks, running, baking or crochet.
As I have witnessed for myself the valued role of #OTalk discussions in sharing learning and promoting the role and value of occupational therapy I am really excited to be joining the team to further develop my digital skills, to contribute to the maintenance and growth of #OTalk for the future and to have a new expanded network of lovely OT’s to connect with.

#OTalk 18th Feb 2020 – Homelessness

This week Ruth Hawley @Ruth_Hawley and Beck Skelton @WintRebecca will be hosting here is what they had to say.

Homelessness is a growing issue within the UK and other countries.  The issue of homelessness is wider than being roofless and rough sleeping and includes those who don’t have the right to stay where they are, sofa-surfing or in temporary accommodation, and can be those with insecure or inadequate housing for their needs (Shelter, 2019).

The experience of being homeless impacts on occupational performance, participation and identity (Chard et al, 2009; Cunningham & Slade, 2019; Williams & Stickley, 2011) and those who experience homelessness can have complex health and social care needs and be at risk of occupational deprivation and injustice (RCOT, 2019).  

Occupational therapy, therefore, has much to offer for working with those who experience homelessness.  Indeed, homelessness has been the topic of the recently produced RCOT evidence spotlight which outlines some key reading and evidence available (RCOT, 2019).  A networking day in October 2019 at RCOT on Occupational Therapy and Homelessness saw a group of experienced and enthusiastic Occupational Therapists come together to discuss this topic, learn more about it and consider how to advance practice in this area.  As was evident on the day, occupational therapists can work with people with homelessness in many different contexts across physical health care, mental health care, in housing adaptations and social care settings as well as third sector or charity settings.  

Beck Skelton, an Occupational Therapist in Leeds has been working for a third sector organisation funded by Leeds CCG for 2 years. During 2018-19 over 160 people accessed the Occupational Therapy service. The work is varied as people present with a range of functional difficulties as a result of physical, psychological and social conditions. The role is temporarily funded as with many diverse roles. 

As identified on the networking day, to support occupational therapy in this area it would be helpful to have greater development of the OT role in working with people who are homeless, more research evidence and policy guidelines and to establish an effective forum for clinical support and sharing of good practice across the UK. 

In order to support these aims, Beck Skelton (Occupational Therapist working at homeless charity in Leeds) and Ruth Hawley (Senior Lecturer in Occupational Therapy at Derby University) would like to host this OTalk considering the following questions: 

Q1. Do you have any experiences of working with people who are homeless?

Q2. What do you think are the occupational needs of people who are homeless?

Q3. What do you think the occupational therapy role is when working with people who are homeless?

Q4. What do you think would be good next steps to support the development of this emerging area for occupational therapy? And how could these be implemented?


Boland, L. and Cunningham, M., 2019. Homelessness: Critical reflections and observations from an occupational perspective. Journal of Occupational Science, 26(2), pp.308-315.

Chard, G., Faulkner, T. and Chugg, A., 2009. Exploring occupation and its meaning among homeless men. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 72(3), pp.116-124.

Cunningham, M.J. and Slade, A., 2019. Exploring the lived experience of homelessness from an occupational perspective. Scandinavian journal of occupational therapy, 26(1), pp.19-32.

Shelter (2019) What is homelessness? Available at: https://england.shelter.org.uk/housing_advice/homelessness/rules/what_is_homelessness   [Accessed 31 October 2019] 

RCOT (2019), RCOT Evidence Spotlight: Homelessness. London: RCOT

Williams, S. and Stickley, T., 2011. Stories from the streets: people’s experiences of homelessness. Journal of psychiatric and mental health nursing, 18(5), pp.432-439.

Post Chat Updates:

Online transcript from HealthCare# Project.

PDF of transcript #OTalk 18th February 2020 Transcript

The Numbers

1.924M Impressions
551 Tweets
77 Participants

#OTalk Participants



#OTalk – 11th February 2019 Direct Payments & Occupational Therapy.

This week Sherlyn Graham @sherlynmelody will lead the chat this is what she had to say

Direct Payments were set up with the Community Care (Direct Payments) Act (1996) and came into force on 1stApril 1997Direct payments were initially available only topeople 18 to 65 years with physical and sensory impairments, learning difficulties and mental health problems and who had been assessed as needing community care services. The Act was amended in 2000 to incorporate older disabled people and later in 2001 it was extended to 16- and 17-year-olds, parents of disabled children and carers.

The Act gave local authorities the power to make direct cashpayments to individuals.

A direct payment is a cash payment paid by a social services department to a service user to purchase services that meet their agreed social care needsDirect payments are the governments preferred mechanism for personalised care and supportThey were intended to empower service users giving them independence, choice and control by enabling them to commission their own care and support in order to meet their eligible needs.

For individuals, a direct payment can mean the difference between having to live in an institutional setting and having the assistance they want to be able to live in their own home.(Alzheimer’s society 2007)

To ensure the money is used for the right things, the direct payment is to be managed by the service user; where the service user is unable to do this for themselves they can be supported by a family memberfriend or an external advocacy organisation. 

As the money given to the service user is given in lieu of the local authority providing the care, the money remains public money. Therefore the use of the money is subject to scrutiny – audit. (TLAP 2019)

Direct Payments can be used to buy all or some of the support the service user needs to meet their needs howevereach persons needs are different and will vary from one case to the next. The money can be used to directly employ a personal assistant or hire care workers from a private domiciliary care agency. As an alternative to care services, the service usermay be able to use his or her Direct Payments to fund other local services that enable their independence within their own home and community, such as attending a day centre,accessing taxi cabs and meals on wheels.

According to the Royal College of Occupational Therapy (2019) Occupational therapy provides practical support to empower people to facilitate recovery and overcome barriers preventing them from doing the activities (or occupations) that matter to them. This support increases people’s independence and satisfaction in all aspects of life.

So as an occupational therapist how involved are you in using direct payments as a means of empowering people to engage in meaningful activities?


  1. What setting are you in and have you given a direct payment to any of your service users/carers?
  2. In general, what are your services users/carers using the direct payments for?
  3.  Have you used any external organisations to support with the utilisation of direct payments? And what support did they provide?
  4. What, if any, have you found to be the disadvantages of a direct payment?
  5. What have you found to be the advantages of a direct payment?
  6.  What have you found to be the main barriers and or facilitators of using direct payments.
  7. Do you find direct payment are more suited to a certain client group?


Legislation.gov.uk – Community Care (Direct Payments) Act 1996

Direct payments: answering frequently asked question – social care institute for excellence (2005)

Direct payments – information and guidance booklet, direct payments from Hertfordshire council for adult social care.

Direct Payments – Alzheimer’s society information sheet (2007)

Think Local Act Personal – Money management (2019)

The Royal college of Occupational Therapist – What is occupational therapy? (2019)

Post Chat Updates:

Online Transcript from HealthCare# Project 

PDF of Transcript: #OTalk 11 Feb 2020

The Numbers

1.048M Impressions
205 Tweets
37 Participants

#OTalk Participants