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The Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT) has published its manifesto for the Senedd Election in 2021, calling for occupational therapy to be at the forefront of the new Welsh Government’s commitment to healthcare, as the nation recovers from COVID-19.

Occupational therapists (OTs) play a unique and valuable role in working across the NHS, social services, in care homes and the community, enabling people to live fulfilled lives as well as relieving pressure on health and care services, RCOT says.

The manifesto was sent to parties at the end of last year to encourage them to consider RCOT’s key asks when writing their manifestos.

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As outlined in the manifesto, the four key asks for the next Welsh Government to action are:

  1. legislate to ensure a streamlined approach to housing adaptations
  2. support a healthy and fit workforce, ensuring organisations think about the wellbeing of the workforce
  3. ensure the right to rehabilitation
  4. deliver parity between health and social care

Legislate to ensure a streamlined approach to housing adaptations

RCOT says that Wales currently has five different funding schemes for home adaptations and that this is confusing and laborious.

To help overcome this issue, the college says that the next government should ensure a smoother and easier pathway to housing adaptations. This will save care costs and also facilitate early discharge from hospital, reduced hospital days and avoid unnecessary admissions.

Furthermore, the manifesto says that the government should recognise the benefits of assistive technology in helping people remain independent in their own homes for longer. It adds that all new builds should be future-proofed to ensure good quality housing in the long-term.

“RCOT calls for primary law making power in this area to make a real and sustained difference to the lives of people needing housing adaptations,” the manifesto reads.

Support a healthy and fit workforce

“RCOT is keen to ensure that people are supported to be in work and supported to return to work,” the manifesto outlines.

It says that there should be swift access to occupational therapy where it can benefit workers – this is something for organisations to consider. Additionally, RCOT says that work-life balance is essential and organisations need to be looking at how they can support staff to achieve wellbeing at work, including access to appropriate wellbeing breaks, access to activity and exercise options.

Ensure the right to rehabilitation

Furthermore, the college says that the Welsh Government should increase resources for community rehabilitation services, with a shift away from acute services and towards community care.

To achieve this, the government should improve the connection between hospital and community service provision and between general practice and community-based rehabilitation. RCOT adds that a holistic approach is required to address multiple needs together, such as physical, social and mental health needs

Deliver parity between health and social care

As Wales has an ageing population, many of whom rely on social care support, RCOT says that delivering parity between health and social care is essential, with social care not receiving as much support as healthcare.

The manifesto reiterates that social care services deliver vital protection, prevention and rehabilitation for vulnerable individuals and needs to be given parity of esteem.

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