Occupational Therapist’s innovative use of Near Me during COVID-19 and beyond

Occupational therapists by nature have been inquisitive and creative when considering ways to meet the needs of people accessing their services. Marc Beswick the National Lead for the Near Me video appointments service highlights two examples where occupational therapists applied their unique skills to changing circumstances. (To find out more about these stories visit https://www.rcot.co.uk/news/otnews )

Virtual cooking

Specialist occupational therapist Lesley-Anne Frazer works in a community mental health team in Lanarkshire. She began using Near Me as an alternative to face-to-face appointments during the pandemic where because, as she says: “Near Me allowed me to continue to progress a treatment plan with a patient within the comfort and safety of their own home.”  And it is something that the patient values:

“We have been doing food preparation through video calling for around four weeks now and I have learned how to make and cook meals such as pasta, omelette, mince and potatoes, and pasta bolognaise. It has been rewarding.  I have been so grateful that throughout lockdown the medium of video calling has been an option allowing me to have weekly contact with my occupational therapist.”

To see a video of Lesley Anne telling her patients story please visit: Lanarkshire MH R&R

Care to be different?

Meanwhile in NHS Tayside during the pandemic, Vicki Fyffe has been working as part of COVID-Related Advice on Rehabilitation, Enablement and Support (CARES) team.

The team have been taking referrals since July; over half were from key workers, a quarter from the NHS, with an average age of 51. A high percentage of colleagues have either not managed to return to work or are struggling to remain in work due to ongoing COVID symptoms.

In terms of support being offered, a member of the team starts with a telephone or Near Me video call to conduct a holistic assessment, typically lasting an hour. The team can then offer support, signposting and onward referral across the diverse nature of COVID’s symptoms, including:

  • fatigue
  • breathlessness
  • sleep issues
  • anxiety
  • difficulty managing activities of daily living
  • new cognitive difficulties and
  • issues around returning to work

The Royal College of Occupational Therapy have a vast array of resources to support the rehabilitation needs of people affected by COVID here: https://www.rcot.co.uk/node/3474 and here is a short video describing how they support rehabilitation:

Rehabilitation is the word of the moment


Both these examples, which are illustrative of other great works being delivered by AHPS, show case some of the innovative uses of Near Me which emerged during the pandemic but are increasingly seen as a viable option. Reducing unnecessary travel, saving time &and energy, convenience, and efficient use of clinical resources and patient and care time are important benefits.  Moreover, they strike at the heart of  Realistic Medicine published in March 2021.

The speed at which Near Me has been adopted brings me great hope for the future. It is a fine example of Realistic Medicine in practice, demonstrating that improvement and innovation can support delivery of personalised care.”

What Next?

While the transformation has been incredible and AHP colleagues have risen to the challenge we must not rest on our laurels. We need to build on the benefits with evidence, and testimonies looking at both what has worked well and what has not.  With this in mind:

  • What are the unique benefits available to people using your service through offering a video appointment?
  • Could the energy expended making a journey to have a face-to-face appointment be better used by a person for something else in their day if they did not have to travel?
  • Can video appointments support those who find leaving their homes a challenge?

Going forward, the appropriate use of Near Me can play an important option to help address the backlog of patents waiting to be ‘seen’. It will also address new needs arising from the effect of both the lockdown and COVID on people’s health and wellbeing.

And finally, can we build on our understanding on where Near Me is not a good option and support the argument why having options and choice underpin our person-centred approach?

Prior to his current role Marc Beswick was the Children’s Occupational Therapist in Shetland for 17 years. For more information on Near Me and to share your thoughts and experience you can contact him at marc.beswick@nhs.scot


1 Comment

  1. Hi
    Get really frustrated that all of us who are still on Office 2007 cant open any of these


    Catriona McMaster

    Dietetic Clinical Team Lead Rehabilitation

    0141 451 6246 D/D 86246

    Greater Glasgow & Clyde Adult Acute Dietetic Service
    Zone 2/1, 2nd floor
    Office Block Building
    Queen Elizabeth University Hospital

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