Top 8 Duties Of An Occupational Therapist

Top 8 Duties Of An Occupational Therapist

. 4 min read

Occupational therapy has been instrumental to people who’ve struggled with their daily living. Most occupational therapy patients have birth injuries, autism, learning difficulties, as well as mental and behavioural problems. They also include the elderly who are affected by their aging. In addition, patients who suffered from injuries at work also need occupational therapy. This way, they could get back to their usual, everyday living.

As the need to have occupational therapy increases over time, many individuals want to delve into this career path. Suppose you're somebody who's looking to start a career in occupational therapy—in that case, you may begin exploring the nature of the job. To help you get to know more of what occupational therapists do, below is a discussion on their principal duties. Read on!

1. Evaluation And Re-Evaluation

The responsibilities of an occupational therapist start with assessing the wellbeing of a patient. It's in this phase that occupational therapists assess the following conditions:

  • Physical
  • Mental
  • Cognitive
  • Behavioural
  • Emotional
  • Sensory

During the initial evaluation, occupational therapists use the patient's medical history. In addition, they analyse previous behavioural assessments and any intervention they’ve undergone. Accordingly, they base the treatment plans on the initial evaluation.

Occupational therapists also conduct re-evaluation in phases prescribed by the treatment plan. By doing so, they’re able to track the progress of the patients and suggest possible sessions that may assist in the patient's development.

2. Treatment And Treatment Planning

After the evaluation, the main focus of the occupational therapist is to design a treatment plan that's appropriate for the patient. They usually have a tailor-fit plan for each of their patients as a one-size-fits-all doesn't work well with occupational therapy.

In most cases, occupational therapists design activities that patients can do daily. Some of these are personal care routines, as well as work involvement and leisure activities. For patients under rehabilitation, such as individuals who suffered from injuries due to accidents at work, routine activities are given so they could get used to these usual activities.

Occupational therapists working with the elderly prepare and implement activities that improve their skills and range of motion. Typically, these are undertaken through daily activities, such as dressing, eating, and bathing. Occupational therapy is a crucial aspect of the healthy aging process because it allows seniors to maintain independent living skills despite physical limitations associated with old age.

After the design, occupational therapists may start doing hands-on treatment through the activities or with the help of an occupational therapy assistant. This way, the occupational therapists could conduct close observation for monitoring.

3. Training Occupational Therapy Assistants

As a side duty, most occupational therapists train their assistants. This way, they could optimise occupational therapy for the patients. When the occupational therapists are out, they’re confident that the assistants can help patients improve their fine and gross motor skills. In addition, the trainees could do their own patient monitoring to complement the occupational therapist's observation.

Some occupational therapists encourage their assistants to look for training groups and courses for aspiring occupational therapists and assistants. With relevant training, you may join a reliable company that offers a position in occupational therapy. For instance, if you’ll be looking for physiotherapy careers in Melbourne, remember to go for a seasoned company that could provide you room for professional growth.

4. Progress Monitoring

To further monitor the patient's development, most occupational therapists use the following techniques:

  • Home visits
  • Patient-centric care
  • Life simulations and adaptations
  • Monitoring through physical activities
  • Behavioural observations
  • Use of a reliable spirometer

The results and records in the progress reports affect occupational therapists’ decision to shift, enhance, or change the treatment plan of patients. Coupled with re-evaluation, occupational therapists could compare direct observation results to the patient’s base data and information. These points could be analysed to see if the treatment plan has worked well.

5. Liaising With Other Medical Professionals And Family Members

Occupational therapists need to establish a working relationship with other medical professionals to understand the patient's situation more. In addition, they can share insights and expertise with one another. Occupational therapists collaborate closely with multiple workers, making sure the highest quality of patient services is delivered.

6. Discharge

Occupational therapists ensure that the patients have reached the necessary development before the discharge. This is to make sure that the patients can do their daily activities without any trouble.

As part of their duties, occupational therapists provide exercise plans to patients. A discharge plan is a process of preparing an individual with a disability. It covers the transition from hospital to home or another setting. These are done during this transitional period to aid rehabilitation at home after being released from medical care providers' supervision.

Discharge planning should begin as soon as discharge documents are completed. Before a patient goes home, occupational therapist's talk with the patient and his family. They’d discuss the activities to do at home for continuous development.

7. Home Visits

As a follow-up, occupational therapists conduct home visits for post-treatment evaluation. They may perform various assessments on the client and discuss what specific tasks are complex for them. They might also assess skills, including coordination or strength. In addition, they suggest further activities for continuous improvement.

In some cases, occupational therapists continue the patient’s treatment plans at home to speed up the patient’s development. However, this needs approval from the patient or anyone who could represent them.

8. Other Duties

Occupational therapists are responsible for creating and maintaining a clean work environment. They maintain patient confidentiality and keep everything organised. In addition, they ensure that safety measures, such as infection control policies, are being observed. Furthermore, they could be tasked with ancillary services that may complement occupational therapy.

Final Thoughts

Occupational therapy aims to help physically, emotionally, and behaviourally challenged people undertake their daily activities. The goal for each patient is to achieve or maintain their maximum level of independence and improve practical life skills. This also requires the therapists to partner with family members, teachers, the community, and medical professionals.

To achieve such goals, an occupational therapist has to follow the duties designed to be appropriately efficient. Occupational therapists must consider the patient's physical, psychological, social, and environmental needs, among others. Because of this, occupational therapists make a custom-fit treatment plan for each patient, such as a post-concussion patient.

Suppose you're planning to be an occupational therapist. Luckily for you, this article contains points and insights that could help you fully understand what this job really is. These could hopefully help you in deciding whether this career fits you or not.


Part of the expertEasy writing team, Laura is from the UK and has a keen interest in Business, interior design and decor, home improvement and thriftiness in all things around the house and garden.

About expertEasy

Live in Australia? Whether you need your lawn mowed, your garden landscaped, your home painted, or you need a photographer, expertEasy is the easy way to find expert help.

Find the right expert