Occupational Therapy in Primary Care: The benefits of being a “Daydream Believer”

Are you a daydream believer?

Are daydreams an effective coping strategy?

Are they a way of self managing difficult situations?

Can believing in your daydreams bring you hope and potential for change?

I daydreamed about delivering an Occupational Therapy service with a fast response rate. A service that was easy to access following a conversation with a GP practice member of staff. The service would be innovative and have great outcomes for patients and support GPs to be able to carry out their role as expert medical generalists.

At the beginning of lockdown – March 2020, I found myself at home, isolated from my colleagues, with a strong desire to keep believing I could be an effective Occupational Therapist in primary care…even from my home!

I daydreamed this work might inform the future of Occupational Therapy in primary care, within Ayrshire and Arran and beyond. The pioneering role would allow the opportunity to link with other Occupational Therapists living the same dream. I was part of a family of fellows having received a NES AHP Careers Fellowship and I was determined that opportunity would not be missed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, the big question in the daydream was…

“How was I going to establish the Occupational Therapy role without being present in a practice and instead working all the time from home?

So, I got to work thinking, connecting, exploring, listening and doing. Life became very different as I began to “treat” myself with Occupational Therapy principles and values, to make my daydream a reality.

Claire you need to….

  • Establish a new work routine from home
  • Set up a good, productive and safe work environment
  • Balance the day with varied work activities
  • Take breaks / self care
  • Connect with colleagues and friends – old and new
  • Evaluate, problem solve and set new goals regularly

So, that’s exactly what I did.

I listened to the world as we all became more digitally connected using MS Teams. I learned from national and local champions around the use of Near Me. I practised video consultations and I set up clinics twice a week. I now had an effective means of offering clinical interventions from my home. Of course, videocalls aren’t for everyone and so giving people the choice of how they connect with Occupational Therapy was and is still, my priority.

The Occupational Therapy in primary care service is not diagnostic specific, but instead asks people about their life goals and what is meaningful for them to work on to improve their occupational performance. As Occupational Therapists, we focus on wellbeing and empowering people to facilitate change.

At times, I wondered about delivering this service from home.

  • “Am I doing my job properly?”
  • “Is it safe for me and my home life?”

I spoke about these issues (and more) at supervision and the support I received was amazing. I was encouraged to keep going, using my own coping strategies. I remember being given the advice “…keep talking about the service and the impact of having Occupational Therapy available to people via their GP practice”. I listened to the people I was working with who said they felt less anxious meeting me online and they loved not having to find a parking space to visit the practice!

Despite not being visible in practice, the multi-disciplinary team are great at presenting referrals. I keep in touch using the in-house task and communication tools. I also use email and even better… the good old fashioned phone, when time allows! It has taken time for the team to understand what Occupational Therapy can offer, but describing the role is something we learn from day 1 at University. We might all have a different story, but at the heart of that, is believing we can make a difference by using a holistic and practical approach, focusing on activity. GPs are embracing the opportunity to access primary care Occupational Therapy and the people I work with comment on their enjoyment of being in charge of their own progress.

So, it turned out to not just be a daydream, but in fact my reality! Having received over 100 referrals and offered nearly 300 appointments in the last year, I recognise that being a daydream believer brought me back to being an Occupational Therapist. It lifts my spirits and offers me meaningful activity everyday!

Claire Muir

Author Info:

Claire Muir, AHP Fellow 20/21.

Occupational Therapist, NHS Ayrshire and Arran

Follow Claire on Twitter: @ClaireMuirAAAHP

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