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News from Member Organisations September 2022 - United Kingdom

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Stepping up at RCOT, progress so far.

At RCOT we are coming to the close of our business year and it is a good time to take stock and review progress in realising our vision that people everywhere value the life-changing power of occupational therapy.

So far in 2022 we have stepped up..

Under Rise Up we have launched a Leadership Forum to bring key occupational therapy leaders from across the UK’s health and social care systems together to discover and plan how we can engage, understand and support them to work together on the biggest opportunities in the profession.

We are running a series of workforce summits with national and regional government workforce leads to discuss current workforce opportunities and challenges, including understanding vacancy rates and retention issues. This will help to inform a workforce strategy for occupational therapy to determine what the future workforce of occupational therapy should look like and ensure the sustainability of the profession

We have successfully campaigned for changes in legislation to allow occupational therapists to legally advise on when and how people may return to work following illness and to complete the medical questionnaire to assess people’s fitness to drive. To strengthen our position as the go-to resource for information we are collecting and developing workforce, innovation and service examples for members and external stakeholders.

Under Open Up we are encouraging more, new and different people to choose occupational therapy as their profession and we are currently co-producing an equity, diversity and belonging strategy with our affinity networks and wider membership. To guide our work and projects we have built up our numbers of public contributors – who are individuals with either an interest in occupational therapy or experience of it.

We hold regular opportunities for members to engage with us and network such as our virtual Placement Café and Primary Care Drop- ins and our volunteers are delivering webinars and events in their areas of clinical specialty.

This year we had over 7500 pre-registration learners, our highest ever, studying across the UK to be our future occupational therapy workforce. Over 3100 new students and apprentices started their studies this academic year commencing undergraduate, postgraduate or apprenticeship pre-registration programmes. That’s a 67% increase in new learners over the last 5 years. Under Lift Up we launched the Carnduff Learner Forum to engage with apprentice and student representatives to gain greater understanding of current and evolving issues within occupational therapy education and within academic and practice-based learning.

After carefully considering the different views of our stakeholders, we’ve decided to support the addition of a pre-registration doctoral level entry route into the occupational therapy profession. This will be an additional route – it will be one of many options for entering the profession in the UK. You can read our project summary for more details.

We have recruited champions to support the development of research capacity and capability within occupational therapy and launched a data and innovation-strategy to improve data literacy amongst RCOT members to help them understand how we can all apply data to our work to produce the best results.

Finally, within Built Up we have established new departments in RCOT. Movement Building and Membership is focused on understanding, growing and activating our membership, bringing our profession together into a powerful movement for change. Brand and Marketing aims to transform awareness of occupational therapy, so it is recognised, understood and respected and Practice and Innovation ensures we and the profession have a strong voice and presence nationally and internationally.

Like the rest of the world, the UK is emerging from the global pandemic into socioeconomic and climatic uncertainty. We are seeing a growing demand and recognition for occupational therapy but health and social care services are experiencing unprecedented demand, vacancy rates and financial pressures. To respond on behalf of our members and the profession, RCOT needs to be agile and well informed. Our new strategy and ways of working are designed to ensure our insights are data driven, that we maximise our influence through working with our members and allies and that we grow the evidence for the value of occupational therapy. We are at the beginning of that journey, but we are confident our first steps are sending us in the right direction.

Karin Orman, Director of Practice and Innovation.