For the first time, occupational therapy will be written into new social care legislation in Wales that is set to reform the delivery of care and support across the country. Deputy Minister for Social Services in Wales, Gwenda Thomas AM, formally agreed to include occupational therapy and aids adaptations, as key interventions in social care within Section 20 of the Social Services and Wellbeing Bill which is currently being scrutinised by the Health and Social Care Committee.
This is a landmark decision for occupational therapists in Wales and a direct result of determined lobbing from the College of Occupational Therapists’ Policy Officer in Wales, Ruth Crowder. This critical change will mean more people in Wales will benefit from occupational therapy’s specialist skills in community rehabilitation and reablement services; they will avoid unnecessary admission to hospital and residential care and get the support they need stay in their own home for as long as possible.
The College of Occupational Therapists has been relentless in their fight for better recognition of occupational therapists who are a critical part of the workforce in social care in Wales, managing around 40% of adult social care referrals, yet representing just 2% of the workforce.
Ruth Crowder, Policy Officer in Wales said: “I am absolutely delighted. For too long, the occupational therapists’ role in social care has been limited, and their potential to improve people’s lives held back. In the past they’ve been employed solely to meet the local authority’s duty to assess for and provide aids and adaptations. Occupational therapists can now transform the way they work across the health and social care sector.
This is an exciting opportunity to put the person’s needs at the centre of our work and support them to gain maximise function and independence in all areas of their life. This will mean a simpler and quicker service for the individual, rather than passing them to another member of the profession simply because they are employed by a different organisation.
Huge thanks must go to all the third sector organisations and other professional bodies who supported the College to strive for this success. But in particular, all the officials in Welsh Government and the Deputy Minister whose vision and hard work has made this possible.”