The Occupational Therapy Department (OT) serves the whole of the Mercy University Hospital and receives referrals from consultants throughout the hospital (with the exception of St. Michael's Psychiatric Unit, which has its own department). Our primary purpose is to assess and treat patients with difficulty carrying out the day-to-day activities that are essential for them to manage as independently as possible in their home environment. We provide a service primarily to inpatients. There is also a limited outpatient service to patients referred by the MUH medical team.
As it is an acute hospital setting, assessment is geared towards early and safe discharge from the hospital. Therefore, we work with the patients and their family in increasing the functional ability of the patient, and when appropriate we recommend assistive equipment and devices. These range from items such as a specialised wheelchair to small items such as adapted cutlery. We routinely carry out assessment and treatment of:
- Activities of Daily Living (ADL).
- Functional upper limb (gross and fine motor skills).
- Cognitive deficits (informal /standardised).
- Perceptual difficulties(informal /standardised).
- Fabrication of thermoplastic splints - custom made.
We carry out essential home visits before discharge to assist with discharge planning and for patients who need minor alterations and / or changes to their homes for safety purposes. We also communicate and work closely with the community occupational therapists and others in community care in order to give people an optimum level of independence, quality of life following discharge and to speed up the return home of patients once medically fit.
We work as part of a number of multi-disciplinary teams within the hospital. The teams and our role in each are further outlined in the sections below.
We have taken an active role in the accreditation process to date. One of the results of this work has been the report 'Environmental Assessment of Current Toilet and Bathing Facilities througout Mercy University Hospital' which was included in a submission to the MUH Executive Management Board. We work closely with the discharge coordinator in providing information on functional levels of patients who are medically fit for discharge but needing equipment for home. We also link with family members at the request of the discharge coordinator to clarify -- and where necessary -- demonstrate and teach the family how to mange basics of care and support for the patient.
Care of the Elderly
A full-time dedicated Senior OT provides service to care of the elderly. There are also close links with the OT service in St.Finbarr’s Hospital- Rehabilitation Unit where many patients go for a period of rehabilitation post discharge from MUH.
A Senior OT provides a dedicated service to patients in the Acute Stroke Unit five mornings a week. This service has been developed as part of the National Clinical Pathway for Stroke Care and has seen delivery of a quality service to those admitted following a stroke.
There is a developing dedicated service to Neurology patients, and we hope we can expand this in the future.
Prosthetic Orthotic Limb Absence Rehabilitation (POLAR)
A Senior OT provides a dedicated service in the POLAR Unit on Monday, Tuesday and every second Wednesday. The OT works as part of the multi-disciplinary team delivering a specialist out-patient service to patients following amputation / limb loss from the southern counties.
The OT service started in May 2002 and is becoming busier every year with a significantly higher level of referrals from the consultants. We plan to develop the service further as best we can to meet the needs of patients in the community served by MUH.
A pilot project for providing an OT service within the Emergency Department is starting in October 2015 and will run for six months until the end of March 2016.
A Senior OT has been employed to look at making the hospital, and in particular the care of the elderly unit, a more dementia-friendly environment. The Occupational Therapy Department, in conjunction with nursing staff in the Centre of Nurse Education, will provide ongoing education on dementia for staff within MUH to increase awareness around this quickly growing cohort of patients.