COVID-19: Therapists’ work ‘packs’ a punch and helps adults with learning disabilities

By Democrat reporter

A home activity pack which was developed by NHSGGC Occupational Therapists has gone down so well with clients that Occupational Therapy colleagues are widely now following their lead.

The ‘Occupational Therapy – At Home Activity Ideas’ and the Occupational Therapy Stay Well pack were developed in response to the pandemic and the effect this had on the daily lives of clients with a Learning Disability (LD) as well as their families and carers.

Joseph, a patient at one local health centre.

Pauline Kean, an Occupational Therapist (OT) of the Learning Disability Service at a local Health and Social Work Centre said: “We have LD Occupational Therapists who work within community teams throughout NHSGGC and the pandemic has caused massive changes and disruption to the daily lives of our clients and those who support them, including their physical and mental health.

“In a lot of situations, people with a learning disability are being cared for by their family and care staff. Daily routines, participation in daily activities, social interaction and attending activities which are meaningful for clients had to be reduced or removed.

“During lockdown the usual everyday routines and occupations have been impacted significantly, with disruption to day centres and respite care services.  Not having the same access to these vital services place has added pressure and strains on many families, many of whom are elderly parents taking care of the son or daughter at home.

“We as OTs knew we had to respond to this and have changed the way we work with patients.”

This means that how health professionals deliver community based services had to change, with less face to face home visits and staff making more use of digital systems. Alternative ways of engaging clients in purposeful and meaningful daily activity was the principal reason for development of the resource and promote good health and wellbeing.

Pauline added: “Adults who have Learning Disabilities have poorer physical and mental health compared to the rest of the population. Incidences of poorer health have been highlighted in many reports and studies.

“The aim of the Home Activity Packs was to provide ideas and suggestions for clients to try activities at home. These activities could be new or ones previously tried before.  They offer suggestions on day to day care and other things people might take for granted. This included essential health care, tips for getting dressed, domestic tasks, outdoor and indoor activities.  They also offer easy relaxation tips to support posture and exercise suggestions from walking to yoga.”

The home activity pack has been distributed widely amongst health/social work and care colleagues within the NHSGGC and Renfrewshire Council and integrated learning disability service within Renfrewshire.  The packs have and continue to be sent to health and social care colleagues within the immediate team and third sector organisations who provide care to clients who live alone, in houses of multiple occupancy and residential care settings.

While home visits are not available unless critical, occupational therapists and care support staff continue to offer support by phone to check on welfare, offer reassurance, and ensure their clients are safe and well in these difficult times.

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