Occupational therapy support workers work with occupational therapists to help sick, injured or old people to be as independent as possible.
Salary range: £17,652 to £23,671
How to become an occupational therapy support worker
You can get into this job through:
- a college course
- an apprenticeship
- working towards this role
- applying directly
You could do a college course to get into this job. Relevant subjects include:
- Level 2 Certificate in Work Preparation for Health and Social Care
- Level 2 Diploma in Health and Social Care
- Level 3 National Extended Diploma in Health and Social Care
Most health and social care courses include work placements so this could be a good way of getting experience.
You’ll usually need:
- 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
- 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course
You can do a health care support worker intermediate apprenticeship or a senior healthcare support worker advanced apprenticeship.
You’ll usually need:
- 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
- some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship
You could start as a healthcare assistant and learn on the job. You could move into occupational therapy work through training and promotion.
Volunteering and experience
You’ll find it useful to get some paid or unpaid voluntary experience in a healthcare setting or a caring role with older people, or people with physical disabilities, or learning difficulties.
You could contact the voluntary services co-ordinator at your local NHS trust for further advice.
You can apply directly for jobs if you’ve got relevant skills and experience from work like care or health-related roles.
Employers may ask for a qualification in a health-related subject, and experience of working with people.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- knowledge of psychology
- to be flexible and open to change
- patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- the ability to work well with others
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- customer service skills
- counselling skills including active listening and a non-judgemental approach
- sensitivity and understanding
- to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
What you’ll do
Your day-to-day duties might include:
- encouraging people with mental health issues to create a daily routine
- assisting children with physical disabilities to enjoy play activities
- helping people who’ve had a stroke or been in an accident to adjust to their disability
- showing an older person how to use equipment to help them remain living independently.
- checking that equipment is in good working order and keeping a record of items in stock
You could work in an NHS or private hospital or at a client’s home.
Career path and progression
With experience, you could become a team leader and supervise other occupational therapy support workers.
You could also train as an assistant practitioner and study for a foundation degree. You could then go on to train as an occupational therapist.