The OT Practice official opening image
Courtesy of The OT Practice

A private occupational therapy practice, based in Hampshire, officially opened its new office on the 8th of March with Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, attending the opening to highlight the important work of OTs in the independent living sector.

The OT Practice is the largest independent occupational therapy practice in the UK and Her Royal Highness (HRH) opening its new head office marked a significant growth in the business.

Nikki Thompson, Executive Director of The OT Practice and who accompanied HRH throughout the visit, commented: “We are honoured to have welcomed Her Royal Highness today. It is a fantastic opportunity to elevate the profile of our profession and the diversity of career opportunities open for occupational therapists in the independent sector.

“We are the first independent OT practice that has been afforded the honour of a visit from The Princess Royal, the Patron of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists and are extremely proud to have been chosen.”

With the theme of entrepreneurialism as the focus of the visit, HRH was met by representatives from The OT Practice’s therapy team, many of whom have had extensive backgrounds in statutory services before moving to work privately with The OT Practice. They described first-hand their personal experiences of the challenges, benefits and success of their careers and the rewards of working in the independent sector.

The Princess Royal also met a range of commissioners who procure OT services via The OT Practice, including representatives from military charities The Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund and The Royal British Legion.

Local authority and NHS Trust commissioners explained the importance of collaboration between the statutory and independent sectors by showcasing successful waiting list reduction projects between themselves and The OT Practice.

From the case management community, Chris Bartlett, Communications Director of CMSUK, discussed the important relationship between case management and occupational therapy.

Furthermore, to bring to life the value of occupational therapy, several clients, together with their respective therapists, spoke to HRH about their individual stories and the impact that working with The OT Practice has made to their daily lives.

Catrin Pugh at The OT Practice official opening image
Courtesy of The OT Practice

Included in this group was Catrin Pugh, who received specialist hand therapy from The OT Practice after being involved in an accident where she experienced 96 percent third degree burns. She spoke with The Princess Royal about the involvement of occupational therapy in her own recovery and finding what was to be her ‘new normal’, as well as her latest work encouraging mainstream culture to represent more people with visible differences. Her latest initiative is being the face of Avon beauty campaign.

Finally, Her Royal Highness met The OT Practice Brand Ambassador Alex Lewis, himself a quadruple amputee. Alex discussed the technology and innovative solutions he uses to enable and maximise his independence in daily life and the aims of his partnership with The OT Practice as its brand ambassador.

During the speeches, Nikki said: “We have been honoured to have hosted this visit today. Ma’am, your Patronage of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists helps with the much needed elevation of the profession’s profile and enhances the public’s understanding of our role.

“I know I speak for all Occupational Therapists and for those working to support the profession, of our gratitude for this.”

During her time at The OT Practice, HRH was also asked to unveil a plaque to commemorate the occasion and say a few words.

The OT Practice official opening plaque unveiling image
Courtesy of The OT Practice

The Princess Royal said: “Thank you very much for inviting me down here today to see the progress that has been made at The OT Practice and the extremely nice new facilities. It shows a considerable degree of confidence and investment in OTs, not just as a business, but also in terms of the quality service you provide in that you are expanding and people recognise what you do and how well you do it.”

During her visit, Her Royal Highness joined Nikki and other members of the team in a discussion around the challenges occupational therapists face in succinctly describing their profession. She was invited to watch a short video where The OT Practice clients were asked what three words they would use to describe OT.

Her Royal Highness made reference to the video in her speech: “It’s quite difficult to encapsulate in three words what an OT does, but I would regard the word ‘independence’ as being crucial to what an OT can do. But also choice. I think you give your clients that degree of choice and independence when they might not have felt that was going to be possible, which is an incredible achievement.”

Her Royal highness went on to congratulate The OT Practice on their services and growth: “This business has done very well and offers clients more choice, so thank you very much for what you have achieved and good luck for the next phase.”

Speaking about the future for The OT Practice, Nikki told AT Today: “We’re ambitious and have plans for continued growth. For 2019 we have restructured our therapist network into specialist clinical teams bringing an enhanced focus on the recruitment of expert therapists and the delivery of specialist OT services.

“We have a strong track record of providing support to NHS and Social Care organisations throughout the UK. Today some of those partnerships have shared with Her Royal Highness the importance of collaborative working between the independent and statutory OT services. This forward thinking and cost effective way of working is essential for the future delivery of mainstream OT services.”

The OT Practice is an independent occupational therapy practice specialising in providing expert clinical services to private individuals, local authority and NHS Trusts, charity and business clients. The nationwide occupational therapy team of over 250 skilled OTs aim to deliver outstanding care to adults and children in their own homes, workplaces and schools.

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