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Occupational Therapist’s unique role in safeguarding adults

An Occupational Therapist Practice Consultant (OTPC) in Norfolk has used her particular set of professional skills to safeguard vulnerable adults in a care home setting.

The Norfolk County Council OT was doing a seating assessment in a Norfolk care home when, prompted by her professionally curiosity, she realised that the equipment was being commonly used as a restraint for other residents. Alarmingly, signs of mis-use of equipment were being missed or ignored by other visiting colleagues and multi-disciplinary professionals.

Among the issues she noticed were cantilever tables blocking inappropriate, low seating, which restricted residents' movements; a lack of small aid feeding utensils, and inappropriate use of bed rails that restricted independent transfers, resulting in contractures and bed sores.

Her first presentation raises awareness of ‘signs to look for’ regarding the mis-use of equipment, and encourages professionals to report and act on their findings, reducing the potential risk to residents and reducing safeguarding referrals.

Her second presentation, Safeguarding An Occupational Therapist's Perspective, results from her OT assessment involving a task analysis of bathing, which led to the resident disclosing a history of alleged sexual, emotional and physical abuse over a period of 3 years within the care home. This resident had been reviewed yearly and at no time did any other professional use the task analysis tool to help her disclose the allegations. The second presentation details how task analysis, commonly used by OTs, can support residents to disclose abuse and widen the professional's awareness of signs of abuse when completing annual reviews.

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