What is the difference between an OT and an OT Aide?

An Occupational Therapist is someone who has undergone extensive training and qualified with a degree (or in the past, a diploma). They must be registered with the Health Care Professionals Council to practice legally. A person cannot just decide they want to call themselves an Occupational Therapist without this qualification and registration. An Occupational Therapist will study various subjects, depending on where they studied. This will cover subjects such as Anatomy and Physiology, Neuroscience, Psychology, Sociology, Human Development, Clinical Sciences, Occupational Studies, Biomechanics. They will also study things such as group work, splint making, and equipment provision. They will have to write a dissertation on a subject of their choice. This training provides them with an understating of how the human body works and how it can be dysfunctional. Therefore, giving an understanding of disability and illness and how this impacts on a person’s life. They are then able to determine the best intervention to assist someone to remain as independent as possible. If you would like to check your OT is registered, you can do this on the HCPC website http://www.hpc-uk.org/ with just their surname. This will advise you if they are registered and when their registration expires.

An Occupational Therapy Aide/assistant/technician is also a valued member of an Occupational Therapy team. They do not have the qualification as above, but often have many skills working with people and have often worked in an OT team for many years, therefore gaining a lot of experience. They are used in different ways, depending on their roles. They generally deal with the more simple cases, and if it becomes more complex, will hand it over to a qualified OT. In the physical setting, they will provide low level equipment and minor adaptations and sometimes will be able to request a level access shower if needed. They would not provide complex equipment such as seating or moving and handling equipment. They will be supervised by a qualified OT.