Independent living and occupational therapy (OT)

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What is occupational therapy?

Occupational therapy helps you live your best life. It is about being able to do the things you want and have to do. That could mean helping you overcome challenges accessing the community, climbing the stairs, or simply doing the dishes. We focus on your wellbeing and your ability to participate in everyday activities.

It's a science-based, health and social care profession that's regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council.

What does an occupational therapist (OT) do?

An occupational therapist helps people of all ages overcome challenges completing everyday tasks or activities - what we call ‘occupations'.

Occupational therapists see beyond diagnoses and limitations to hopes and aspirations. They look at relationships between the activities you do every day - your occupations - alongside the challenges you face and your environment.

The emphasis is on finding an optimal level, whatever the barrier. That often means looking at how an activity, or the physical or social environment it takes place in, can be modified or adapted to make things easier. Just as importantly, the therapist will discuss how someone feels about their ability to tackle problems.

Social care Occupational therapists carry out assessments and provide services that help you to complete daily activities at home. We aim to support adult and children access equipment, adaptations and reablement in order to remain safe, well and maintain maximum independence.

If you want to employ an independent occupational therapist please visit the RCOT website.

Do I need and occupational therapy assessment?

If you have tried equipment or alternative ways of completing the task you find challenging and are still having trouble or if your needs are complex and you are unsure how to resolve them, you may benefit from an Occupational Therapy assessment.

Please refer to our adult occupational therapy service for details.

You can also view the useful links on this website to gain further information, advice and support which may enable you to resolve your concerns independently.

The Royal college of Occupational Therapy has lots of useful advice.

Am I eligible for an occupational therapy assessment?

Occupational Therapists within social care work within the care act and its eligibility. Further details can be found within the factsheet on the government website.

The person will have eligible needs if they meet all of the following:

  1. they have care and support needs as a result of a physical or a mental condition
  2. because of those needs, they cannot achieve two or more of the outcomes specified
  3. as a result, there is a significant impact on their wellbeing

The outcomes are specified in the regulations and include people's day-to-day outcomes such as dressing maintaining personal relationships and working or going to school.

How long will I wait for an occupational therapy assessment?

Waiting times vary depending on your needs. All referrals are reviewed within 10 days of arriving at the OT team. In some cases, we may contact you for further information or clarification of your current situation. Our current waiting times for non-urgent needs are approx. 6 months.

How do I prepare for my occupational therapy assessment?

You may want to have someone with you for your occupational therapy assessment to support you. It will be useful for you to consider:

  • what you are aiming to achieve
  • why you are currently having difficulty achieving the task
  • what you have already tried to improve the situation
  • a list of medications may be requested and details of any other services you are currently working with e.g. physiotherapist/district nurse/carers

Can I buy my own equipment

There are a number of mobility shops in Southend where you can purchase equipment to assist you at home. You may want to visit the Living Made Easy website for general advice on the types of equipment available.

I would like advice on what equipment would help me

Here are some useful resources for equipment advice.

My house isn't suitable for me anymore

Please see our adaptations and rehousing page.

If you live in a South Essex Homes property and would like to move house, please visit the Southend-on-Sea On the Move website to make a housing application.

If you own or privately rent* your property, you can gain advice regarding possible adaptations through the Adapt my Home website. *Your landlord would need to give permission for any works being considered.

I would like carers

To request an assessment for carers please contact the access team on 01702 215008 and request a social work assessment.

Alternatively, you can complete a referral online.

I would like to move to somewhere more suitable for me

Please see our adaptations and rehousing page.

If you have a housing need due to your current home being deemed unsuitable, you can apply to the housing register via the Southend on the Move website.

Please explain on the application what difficulties you are facing and how the property is having a significant impact on your condition.

You will need to supply medical evidence to support your claim. A housing officer will assess your application in line with the current allocation policy to determine if you meet the housing register criteria.

If you would like to be considered for a South Essex Homes Property, please apply through our social housing page.

How do I request an occupational therapy assessment?

You can contact the access team on 01702 215000 or complete our online form.

I need walking aids

Please contact your GP to request a referral to the community physiotherapy team for a mobility assessment.

I need a wheelchair

Please contact your GP to request a referral to the wheelchair service.

You can also visit the Southend Wheelchair Service NHS web page for more information.

I have equipment provided by occupational therapy and it is broken

Please see our Equipment service page.

I want to return the equipment I have been loaned

Please see our Equipment service page.

I am worried about falling

Please see the following pages for general information and advice:

I would like to arrange respite

Please contact the access team on 01702 215000 to request a social work assessment for respite. Alternatively you can complete our online referral form.

I would like rehab

Please contact you GP to discuss your concerns and options.

I need a Blue badge

Please refer to our blue badge page for more information.

I need a disabled parking bay

Please refer to our disabled parking bays page for more information.

I need continence products

The continence service page on the Essex Partnership NHS Trust website is a good place to find more information.

I need a specialist mattress

Specialist mattresses may be recommended for people with pressure care needs. This is a specialist assessment undertaken by the district nursing team.

If you are known to the district nursing team, please contact them directly to discuss your needs.

If you are not known to the district nursing team please contact your GP to discuss a referral.

I need a chair

We will always aim to work with the furniture you currently have within your home. For example raising a chair to make it easier for you to get on or off.

It is expected that people will have, or will purchase suitable standard furniture for their use at home.

If you have functional or postural needs unable to be met with standard furniture, an Occupational therapy assessment may be beneficial.

I need a wet room

Please refer to our adaptations and housing page.

I need a stairlift

Please refer to our adaptations and housing page.

I have a child with a disability

Please refer to our OT children's service page.

For general information please refer to our children with disabilities page.

Another useful resource for more information is The Lighthouse Child Development Centre page on the Essex Partnership NHS Trust website.

I need help with benefits

Please refer to our benefits page.

I am unable to fund suitable furniture or equipment to help me at home

You can find information about the Essential Living Fund grant on our website.

Contact access information

Telephone: 01702 215008

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