There are currently three million people aged over 80, a figure projected to almost double by 2030 and reach eight million by 2050. With an already struggling health care system, the solution to this crisis is multi faceted. One powerful part of the solution is the lesser known profession of Occupational Therapy.
Eight years ago I joined my wife to build The OT Practice, a business providing private occupational therapy across the UK and internationally. Today we have over 250 Occupational Therapists working with us.
I am often asked, “What is Occupational Therapy?”, something I didn’t know myself before I met an occupational therapist, now my wife! Occupational therapists work to break down the barriers that hold back individuals from carrying out their day-to-day activities. Ranging from an ageing population focused on living independently, to children having difficulties with handwriting, through to people who have had catastrophic and life changing brain or spinal injuries requiring long-term rehabilitation. It is a profession rooted in a belief and passion that people can and should be as independent as possible for as long as possible.
In my final years at Stowe, I had my mind set on a career in medicine but was also passionate about product design and building things. To this day, I have fond memories of endless hours spent in the DT workshops at Stowe under the watchful eye of Mr Grimble. The desire for design won. Just as I finished my degree, the Dot Com boom arrived and the opportunities for product design in the digital space were plentiful. So my path was set, initially turning my hand at product design my career evolved to encompass increasingly operational roles. I found early on in my career I gravitated to start ups and entrepreneurial business owners, so was fortunate enough to get first hand experience of building businesses throughout my career. Having clocked up fifteen years of experience, I found myself ready and eager to start my own.
I had plenty of ideas, some of which I had started to explore, just at the time I met my wife who opened my eyes again to the world of healthcare. My career to date had been predominantly in the technology and publishing industries but I found the passion I felt for medicine back in my days at Stowe reignited at the prospect of creating a business in healthcare.
So helped by the serendipitous timing I met my wife, an inspiring clinician and natural entrepreneur, together we set about building The OT Practice.
Fast forward eight years and we are now the largest provider of independent Occupational Therapy in the UK, working with private clients, businesses and charities, as well as supporting Social Care and NHS trusts throughout the UK. Working with these organisations has brought us to the front line of social care where we are regularly drafted in to clear waiting lists and work alongside the in house occupational therapy teams.
Given the financial constraints on Local Authorities we are seeing more opportunities to deliver services where we are able to bring commercial efficiency and accountability, without the ongoing financial commitments or the challenges of large in-house staff teams. By enabling more people to remain in their homes longer and keeping hospital beds clear, not only are we delivering care and independence to those in need, we believe we can be a vital part of the solution to saving money for NHS trusts and Local Authorities who are faced with financial deficits.
We are also particularly proud to have a strong association with a number of our military charities. Most notably, we are the exclusive provider for The Royal British Legion and The Royal Air Force Benevolent Funds, visiting over 2000 of their beneficiaries in 2018.
Alongside the day-to-day job of serving our clients and growing the business, we are always looking for opportunities to raise the profile and awareness of the profession. In March 2019, The Princess Royal, patron of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists, formally opened our new office providing a fantastic opportunity to highlight the invaluable work of OTs. Among other initiatives planned for this year, we have just released a series of short videos titled A New Normal, giving first hand accounts of how occupational therapy has changed the lives of some of our clients, getting to the heart of what Occupational Therapy is really about.