Thoughts from The OT Show

December 29th, 2014

After the stand had been put away for another year at The OT Show we made time to sit down and think through how it had gone, what we had learnt, what our plans might be for next years show & how this could affect our business as an independent OT service over the coming months.

The immediate point we noticed was how busy we'd been. We spoke to well over 100 OTs during the course of the 2 days, mostly about life as a private OT and the ways in which we could work alongside them in a journey into and through independent practice, a huge rise in numbers on the previous year. It wasn't just an improvement in ours and the shows marketing that we felt caused this increase, it seemed like there was a change in tide amongst our fellow professionals, sparking a move away from the perceived drain of more traditional permanent roles into the greener fields and potentially more liberating experience of a new career path (perhaps one that in being seen more now as a truer reflection of our profession and core values!). But why was this?

As always I'm sure there are lots of reasons for this noticeable change, but 1 biggie jumps out and screams for attention. A lot of OTs seem to be feeling weighed down by the continual, cyclic process and pressures of change that they have had to work within on a daily basis. No sooner has 1 cycle of restructuring and job threats been survived than the next wave hits. There's little time for reconciliation and regrouping, limited scope for team building and professional development and an increasing level of client and service expectation. All at a time when budgets are being cut and priorities seemingly keep altering. Then suddenly you have the Health & Social Care Act and the Care Act coming into force in quick succession and another huge round of changes potentially kick in!

I was fortunate enough to see Michael Mandelstam's talk on these new legislative changes during the show and the impact they are going to have cannot be will be seismic......for good and bad. As an OT it is an exciting and worrying time....probably in equal measure. There is a potential for a new client focus and for a re-emergence in the value of our core skills, alongside the reassurance in the importance of a quality , holistic OT assessment as these are the foundations upon which our services will be provided (and budgets spent). But the flip side is a lack of clarity to how this balances against tighter budgets and cut backs as well as continued uncertainty regarding how services will be structured with this in mind. There's also a huge potential push towards outsourcing services and possible changes in key elements to our core services such as DFGs (although at present these concerns seem more like rumours still rather than definite plans). So when you add all these factors together surely it's no doubt some OTs are looking over their shoulders and feeling unsafe, whilst wondering if their skill set might be better used in independent practice.

As with everything in life things aren't that simple I'm afraid. There are still pros and cons to life as an independent OT and these changes will all have a dramatic impact on the way we work as well....again for good and bad. But a change can be as good as a rest and the number of people we talk to that have made the change, taken the jump and are now on a 2nd honeymoon with their profession is undeniable!

It's still very early days in the implementation of these new pieces of legislation but the mood amongst the OTs we spoke to this year was definitely one more of suspicion and uncertainty at present....but combined with a feeling that maybe there are alternatives for those brave enough to take the leap!

If you're interested in finding out more about starting out in independent practice or life as a private OT then Inclusion.Me love to hear from you. To speak to one of our expert independent OT team then visit our website or Alternatively you can email us at We've also got a free guide on being an independent Occupational Therapist, which you can download for FREE via one of the links below - take a look and let us know what you think: