#OTalk – 9th March 2021 – The role of occupational therapy in the charity sector

This chat will be hosted by Dr Naomi Graham @growinghopeuk.

The COVID-19 pandemic seems to have heightened the awareness of health and wellbeing needs across our nation and the need for intervention, particularly for the most vulnerable. Researchers such as Horridge et al. (2019) and Stuckler et al. (2017) discussed the impact of austerity on health and wellbeing for various populations. Horridge et al. (2019) reported that families of children with additional needs have experienced a cut in therapy services across the past ten years. The National Autistic Society (2020) found in a survey during COVID-19 that 1 in 5 families had to reduce their work during lockdown so that they could care for a family member who has autism.

As a children’s occupational therapist experiencing first-hand the service cuts for the families I was working with I decided to found a charity in 2017 – Growing Hope (@growinghopeuk). Growing Hope provides free therapy for children and young people with additional needs in partnership with local churches across the UK. We aim to grow hope for children, hope for families and hope in Jesus. Growing Hope is open to all individuals regardless of their background and beliefs. We have set up a model which aims to use local communities existing resources (such as space within churches) to provide free healthcare services for families of children with additional needs. We are trying to provide a holistic approach and therefore run groups for siblings and parents and carers to discuss and process their experience.

We now have two local clinics in King’s Cross and Brockley, London, and we have potential clinics in cities outside of London in the pipeline to launch in 2021. As a charity we want to be working with children’s occupational therapists, physiotherapists, speech and language therapists and other members of the MDT so that we can support the families who are currently missing out. We want to find out about other charities who are providing occupational therapy and how charities can work with existing NHS therapy teams in order to best support the clients we work with.


Are there other charities who are providing occupational therapy for free to meet a gap for their client group?

  1. What are the benefits of responding to client needs through the charity sector?
  1. What does the occupational therapist role in the charity sector look like?
  1. How can therapists working within the charity sector connect with NHS teams to provide further intervention for individuals who need support?
  1. What has the impact of COVID-19 been on your client base? How have you seen austerity play out for clients that you’re working with?


Horridge, K.A., Dew, R., Chatelin, A., Seal, A., Macias, L.M., Cioni, G., Kachmar, O., Wilkes, S. and (2019), Austerity and families with disabled children: a European survey. Dev Med Child Neurol, 61: 329-336. doi:10.1111/dmcn.13978

National Autistic Society. 2020. Left stranded: The impact of coronavirus on autistic people and their families in the UK.  [Online] . [29 September 2020]. Available from: https://s4.chorus-mk.thirdlight.com/file/1573224908/63117952292/width=-1/height=-1/format=-1/fit=scale/t=444295/e=never/k=da5c189a/LeftStranded%20Report.pdf

Stuckler, D., Reeves, A., Loopstra, R., Karanikolos, M., McKee, M., (2017) Austerity and health: the impact in the UK and Europe, European Journal of Public Health, Volume 27, Issue suppl_4, October 2017, Pages 18–21, https://doi.org/10.1093/eurpub/ckx167


The Numbers




8Avg Tweets/Hour

5Avg Tweets/Participant 


#OTalk – 16th February 2021 – Occupational Therapy and Substance Use

This week #OTalk will be hosted by Rachel Rule @_rachelOT.

Opp (2021) states that people who engage in substance use, or are recovering from addictions to substances could benefit from interventions focusing on re-establishing the roles and identities that are most meaningful to them. Occupational therapy considers a person’s identity, hopes and aspirations, their roles in life, their relationships and their individual ability to fulfil these within their physical and social existence (Duncan, 2011). Considering this, Occupational Therapists are in a unique position to work therapeutically with people living with, or recovering from, addiction to substances (Opp, 2021).

When considering Dual Diagnosis, in the United Kingdom, NICE Guidelines (2016) recommend the input of Occupational Therapists as one of the core professions to include in the care planning for people living with a Dual Diagnosis. Further, in exploring the self-identified occupational competencies of people recovering from
addiction, Davies and Cameron (2010) found that three of the four top items that people wanted to change were skills based; particularly focusing on financial management, domestic tasks and personal care.

Occupational Therapists are equipped to meet people ‘where they are at’ and utilise tools in Motivational Interviewing when people remain in the contemplative stage of change (Prochaska, 1983), or to utilise skills in Identity Transformation when people reduce, or stop their substance use (Best et al., 2015). Wasmuth et al., (2014) considered addiction as an occupation, which links to the concept of the Dark Side of Occupation (Twinley, 2013), and considers how addiction is a central component of people’s everyday occupational lives. Addiction can provide routine in daily life and a sense of stability in a person’s identity (Wasmuth et al., 2014), but it can also lead to occupational imbalance (Wanigaratne et al., 1990). Therefore, when people begin their journey of recovery from substance use, they can be left with an occupational deficit. Recovery from addiction is said to involve re-engaging with a person’s meaningful occupations, supporting the development if an identity away from substance use (Stoffel and Moyers, 2004, Strickler et al., 2009).

Working as an Occupational Therapist in an Assertive Outreach Team, I meet many people living with a Dual Diagnosis. I hope to use this #OTalk to discuss the role of Occupational Therapy in working with people living with addictions in other areas of the UK (and the world!) and make connections.


  1. What brings you to this #OTalk about Occupational Therapy and Substance Use today?
  2. In your experience of working with people who use substances, are Occupational Therapists common within your teams?
  3.  Substance use can raise judgements in society and practice, what helps you to keep these judgements in check personally, in your MDT and in wider society?

Best, D. et al. (2015) ‘Overcoming alcohol and other drug addiction as a process of social identity transition: the social identity model of recovery (SIMOR)’, Addiction Research and Theory, (2), pp. 111-123.
Davies, R. and Cameron, J. (2010) ‘Self identified occupational competencies, limitations and priorities for change in the occupational lives of people with drug misuse problems’, British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 73(6), pp. 251-260.
Duncan, E. (2011) Foundations for Practice in Occupational Therapy. (5th ed.) China: Elsevier Ltd.
NICE (2016) ‘Coexisting severe mental illness and substance misuse: community health and social care services’. Available at: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng58/chapter/Recommendations (Accessed
Opp, A. (2021) ‘Recovery with purpose: Occupational Therapy and Drug and Alcohol Abuse’. Available at: https://www.aota.org/About-OccupationalTherapy/Professionals/MH/Articles/RecoveryWithPurpose.aspx (Accessed: 14.1.2021)

Prochaska, J. O. and DiClemente, C. C. (1983) ‘Stages and processes of self- change of smoking: toward an integrative model of change’, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 51(3), pp. 390–395.
Stoffel, V. and Moyers, P. (2004) ‘An evidence based occupational therapy perspective of interventions for people with substance-use disorders’, American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 58(5), pp. 570-586.
Strickler, D. C. et al., (2009) ‘First person accounts of long-term employment activity among people with dual diagnosis’, Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 32(4), pp. 261-68.
Twinley, R. (2013) ‘The dark side of occupation: a concept for consideration’, Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, 60(4), pp. 301-303.Wanigaratne, S. et al., (1990) Relapse prevention for addictive behaviours: a manual
for therapists. Oxford: Blackwell Science.
Wasmuth, S, Crabtree, J. and Scott, P. (2014) ‘Exploring addiction-as-occupation.
British Journal of Occupational Therapy’, 77(12), pp. 605–613.


The Numbers

1.123M Impressions
400 Tweets
71 Participants
8 Avg Tweets/Hour
6 Avg Tweets/Participant


OTalk 12th January 2021 – Sleep and neurological conditions

This week’s chat hosted by Jennifer Crow @JenniferNCrow.

Questions will be posted by RCOT Neuro Practice @RCOT_NP

Sleep is essential for health and wellbeing, influencing our mood, behaviour and energy levels and underpinning our ability to engage in meaningful occupations (Tester and Foss, 2018). However, sleep is such an integral part of life that we can often undervalue its importance, until we start to have difficulties sleeping!

Many patients with neurological conditions experience sleep problems which can exacerbate other symptoms and impact on daily life (MS Trust, 2018, PDUK, 2019). As occupational therapists it is therefore important to explore this as part of our assessment and intervention.

The RCOTSS-NP long term conditions forum recently put together a CPD Short Course with RCOT – An introduction to managing sleep for people with neurological conditions. Therefore, we have been thinking about this area of practice and wanted to discuss with you whether this is an area you address with your patients, and if so, ways you are doing this.

Questions to consider:

  1. Do you ask your patients about their sleep?
  2. What is your understanding of the impact of poor sleep on engagement in occupations?
  3. What assessment tools do you use with your patients to help identify factors that may be impacting on sleep?
  4. What interventions do you provide to help improve healthy sleep with your patients?

• Multiple Sclerosis Trust (2018). Sleep. Available at: https://www.mstrust.org.uk/life-ms/wellbeing/sleep Accessed on 16.12.19
• Parkinson’s UK (2019) Sleep and Parkinson’s. Available at: https://www.parkinsons.org.uk/information-and-support/sleep Accessed on 19.12.19
• Tester NJ, Foss JJ (2018) The Issue Is – Sleep as an occupational need. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 72(1), 1-4.

Post Chat

he Numbers

969.511K Impressions
394 Tweets
66 Participants
16 Avg Tweets/Hour
6 Avg Tweets/Participant

General, OTalk

Have you got 3 minutes to help us improve the #OTalk website?


On 25th October, OTalk will be turning 8!

What started out as small weekly chats (made up mainly of the seven founding members of OTalk) has grown so much over the past 8 years. We had almost 1,000 chat participants in the first half of this year and we now have monthly chats dedicated to research.

However, our website hasn’t aged well. We last updated our design in 2014, and a lot has changed since then. We now have far better tools at our disposal to improve the responsivity of our website and to make the content more accessible for everyone.

Clarissa (@geekyOT) is revamping the OTalk website and would love to hear from you about what you would like to see in the new version.

Please take 3 minutes to complete the survey and share it with your friends and colleagues.

#otalkontour, #RCOT2019, OTalk

#OTalk 28th May 2019 – Top Tips for Attending Conference (#RCOT2019)

#OTalk 28th May 2019 – Top Tips for Attending Conference

This weeks #OTalk is on the topic of “Top Tips for Conference” and will be hosted by our Kirstie Hughes (@Kirstie_OT).

Here is what Kirstie had to say…

Conference is a great experience for many, it offers a chance to learn, share and be inspired. However, for first time attendees, especially those attending alone, it can seem a little daunting and may not even be aware of that goes on at conference.

This chat aims to discuss the benefits of attending conference and what sessions and events people are looking forward to as well as a chance to share some top tips and answer any questions new attendees may have.

We will also have a cheeky little #OTalkonTour announcement at the end……

 Some questions to consider;

 1; Who is attending RCOT conference this year? Are you a regular or a newbie? For those of you not attending, what factors affected your decision?

2; What are you most looking forward to? Has anything from the programme jumped out at you?

3; What did you enjoy most about the last conference you attended and why? (Not just RCOT).

4; For first time attendees, is there anything that you would like to ask or know?

5; For regular conference goers, what are your top tips for first attending conference?

Any newbies might also want to check out the “Friendly Guide to Attending your first Health Professions Conference” from LG Personal Development



Host and on the OTalk account – @kirstieot

#OTalk Transcript May 28th 2019

Online Transcript

The Numbers

2.512M Impressions
360 Tweets
32 Participants
288 Avg Tweets/Hour
11 Avg Tweets/Participant

#OTalk Participants