News


Children with additional needs should be able to access occupational therapists

Report highlights the benefit that occupational therapists can play in helping children and young people realise their potential

Published on 1st October 2019

Children's services should be designed so that young people with additional learning and support needs, including mental health, can access occupational therapy skills and expertise when they need it, a report has urged.

Occupational therapists enable children and young people with physical, learning and mental health needs to participate in and successfully manage the activities that they want or need to do at home, at school or work and during their free time, a report by the Royal College for Occupational Therapists has found.

OTs have the skills and expertise to identify the personal, task and environmental factors that support or inhibit children’s development, participation and achievement.

The Royal College is urging a shift in resources from specialist interventions towards prevention, early intervention and partnership approaches, in a bid to ensure children get the help and suppoprt they need to live full and happy lives and realise their potential.

The report highlights that:

- In the UK more children are starting school without the foundation skills and resilience they need to succeed in education and life.

- We are now facing a mental health epidemic with one in eight children aged 5-19 years experiencing a diagnosable mental health disorder, affecting their wellbeing, health and success in childhood and later life.

- The number of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities in the UK is rising.

RCOT Chief Executive Julia Scott, said: “As parents and as a society we all want children to lead full and happy lives, participating in the activities (occupations) they need and want to do, be that at home, at school and at play. Yet, the number of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities in the UK is rising. Sadly many young people with additional learning and support needs are denied equality of opportunity and the support they need to realise their potential. This is absolutely unacceptable - the expectation that they should have access to the same opportunities and experiences as their peers is rightly embedded in UK policy."

The RCOT outlines that for services to meet growing societal demands, there needs to be more collaboration between, health, social care, education and the voluntary sector. In addition, there needs to be a better balance of provision at a:

• universal level (services provided to all children, young people and their families),

• targeted level (services for children who are at risk of, or already experiencing diffi culties)

and at a,

• specialist level (children with complex needs requiring an individual approach).

This, the report says, can be achieved by adopting a framework of these three services universal, targeted and specialist interventions which:

• Ensures occupational therapy resources are used wisely;

• Extends the profession’s reach and ensures the maximum number of children benefit from occupational therapy;

• Builds capacity among others to identify and support children and young people with mental health needs/SEND and to know when to refer on for further specialist help; and

• Prevents problems from escalating, meaning that fewer children and young people require more costly, specialist services and those with the most complex needs can access occupational therapy when they need it.

The report also shows how occupational therapists are key to promoting collaboration between, health, social care, education and the voluntary sector. Their approach to working with children and their parents focuses on making personal and environmental changes that to allow the child to fulfil their potential.

Specifically they can provide routines to promote physical and mental health into children’s daily routines and activities, develop partnerships between parents, teachers and the community to address children’s needs early in their education and work across traditional service boundaries to address children’s physical and mental health needs.

Furthermore, occupational therapists can adopt a strengths-based approach that fosters self-management and independence and anticipate the changing needs of children, young people and their carers to facilitate positive transitions.

Julia Scott added: "This report shows that to meet societal demands there needs to be more collaboration between, health, social care, education and the voluntary sector. As a workforce used to working across a range of service provider settings occupational therapists are key to driving this forward and promoting collaboration between different sectors. In addition, a better balance of provision at a universal, targeted and specialist level is needed. Occupational therapists can deliver this approach and this report outlines best practice for commissioning services.”

View the full report
Occupational therapy: Unlocking the potential of children and young people

Share this article:

Back to top
Subscribe to Locum Today
Post a comment

Receive the latest interviews, features and news stories in the Locum Today monthly email newsletter, designed and produced for locum social workers in the UK.

Type in your email address below and click Subscribe.

Leave a comment

Latest articles

10 things you should think about before becoming a locum social worker

10 things you should think about before becoming a locum social worker

Published on 07 January 2016

BASW professional officer Sue Kent and Tricia Gbinigie, business development officer for Independent and Locum Social Workers at BASW provide their Top 10 Tips on things to consider before becoming a locum or independent social worker.

10 Top Tips for successful report writing

10 Top Tips for successful report writing

Published on 10 December 2015

Sue Kent, professional officer at BASW, provides locum social workers with 10 Top Tips for successful report writing.