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Grant helps occupational therapist take services to rural communities

Tuesday 17th July 2018
An occupational therapist is using a grant to establish a new mobile service in East Anglia.
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A cash grant from a charity that supports social entrepreneurs has enabled an occupational therapist to provide a home visit service to people living in rural parts of East Anglia.

CUP-O-T is the name of the service provided by Catherine Gray, who wanted to make occupational therapy more accessible in the remoter parts of Norfolk and Suffolk.  

Ms Gray, who hails from the small Norfolk village of Talcolneston, told the Diss Express: "We live in a rural area where public transport links are limited and there are few clinic spaces to hire.

“I want to make support accessible to as many people as possible.

“Occupational therapy works with people to achieve what they want and need to do in life, those things are rarely stationary, so why should the service be?”

Focused on mental health and aimed at people aged 14 and over, Ms Gray's services will also offer a chance for people to get treatment without the stigma of visiting a clinic. 

Indeed, these services do not need to be delivered in the home. Ms Gray noted they could also be provided in a public place like a pub, cafe or even a hairdressing salon, with a cup of tea helping to act as a "conversation starter" to break the ice with patients.

Her work will take some pressure of local NHS services, where she still works as a part-time employee of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. She has been there eight years. 

The need for occupational therapy services all over the country - both in rural and urban areas - remains substantial and there is a shortage of practitioners.

Last month, professional advisor at the Royal College of Occupational Therapists Ann Keen told women who had left the profession to start a family that returning to practice at a later date is not as hard as many imagine.

She said the process of updating skills to be able to practice again is "relatively straightforward".
Written by Alex Franklin Stortford

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