Occupational therapy

As Occupational Therapists at WESC foundation our focus is on promoting independence through purposeful and meaningful activity.  We aim to identify the barriers to participation that face our young people due to their visual impairment, physical or learning disability.

Core areas of occupation

Occupational therapists work with all staff across campus to ensure that our young people are supported consistently across the eight core areas of occupation. This support is tailored to consider each individual’s needs (e.g. their visual impairment).

Personal activities of daily living (PADLs)

These include bathing, showering, toileting, dressing, eating/swallowing, functional mobility, sexuality, and personal hygiene & grooming.

Routines are written with the young person and their keyworker to ensure a consistent approach to personal care, always focusing on their active participation and developing their independence skills.

 Domestic activities of daily living (DADLs)

We work on developing independence skills in the home, including housework, laundry, and  planning, preparing and cooking simple meals and snacks. It’s important to find what works best for each individual. We work with them and think carefully about their visual impairment. This might include using a:

  • talking microwave instead of an electric hob or oven
  • vegetable chopper instead of a sharp knife
  • hot water dispenser to reduce the risk of hot water scalds when pouring from a kettle

Rest and Sleep

These activities help our young people to rest and sleep (including preparing for sleep). This is important as it supports healthy and active engagement in other areas of occupation.

For our residential students it is particularly important that they are having good quality rest in order to benefit from the day ahead.

We may be involved in setting up a sleep system for those with cerebral palsy to help maintain a good position over a 24 hour period (not just positioning in their wheelchairs) or advise on implementing a good bedtime routine.

Education

Every student in our School or College needs to be able to access their education regardless of their ability.

We work closely with the education team to ensure all our young people have the right equipment and are in the right environment to get the best from their time in education.

This might include allowing sensory breaks in the timetable to ensure the time spent in class is better focused, or work on a fine motor skills programme. Sitting in the correct chair, with a good, supported posture may require equipment assessment and provision, but will ultimately enable the young person to better access their education.

Work

Supporting the work area of occupation includes activities around looking for (and taking part in) opportunities for paid or voluntary work.

For example, many WESC Foundation students enjoy work experience. We help to make sure they can access new environments and that they have as many opportunities open to them as possible.

Play

Play is often geared towards the students at the developmental level that is meaningful to them.

A young person may have learnt to bring their arms together, but they may not be crossing their arms over yet, so we may encourage them with various games to start ‘crossing midline’, for example rolling a ball from side to side. These skills will impact positively on the development of their coordination skills which will help them develop functional skills such as the coordinated use of cutlery.

Leisure

We are passionate about promoting healthy, happy, meaningful lives and will work with the young person to find opportunities here on campus or out in the community.  Wellbeing has such as huge knock on effect in all aspects of a person’s life: self-confidence, self-esteem, behaviour and their overall mental health.

Social participation

This consists of the interweaving of occupations to support participation in community and family activities. Occupational Therapists like to focus on the areas under social participation such as engaging in the community, with family, friends, and peers.

Conclusion

Occupational Therapists focus on enabling and empowering the young person to achieve what they want and need to do, as independently as possible.