MEDICAL professionals in Southampton have marked a century of work as part of occupational therapy awareness week.

Staff at Southampton’s university hospitals celebrated 100 years of developments in the therapy which is aimed at helping people of all ages overcome disability caused by illness, accidents or ageing.

Member’s of the 65-strong team held a display on Thursday outside Southampton General Hospital’s main entrance to give visitors the chance to find out more about how it helps to minimise the impact of disease and disability through activity.

Workers form part of the trust’s therapy service and play a role in helping people combat disability caused by either physical or psychological illness in an attempt to offer more satisfying lives that are independent.

Rachael Leyland, deputy professional occupational therapy lead, said: “Historically, the role of an OT focused mainly on equipment provision, assessing patients only when thought to be medically fit for discharge and assisting in ongoing care packages.

“As the profession has grown, the role has become increasingly skilled, meaning involvement in patient care starts at an earlier stage in the clinical pathway, attention is focused around supporting patients to reach their full potential - the sooner this starts, the better.”

The team released 30 silver balloons outside of the entrance, holding a cake sake throughout the day to raise funds for the equipment through Southampton Hospital Charity.

Medical staff were also showcasing how the service had grown over the 20 years.

Rachael added: “The team now treat patients who are much sicker with more varied and complex needs and occupational therapists play a key role in determining whether or not a patient needs hospital admission or could be cared for in the community setting.”

OTs offer a range of specialist assessments and interventions, such as advice on activities of daily living, cognitive assessments and independent equipment provisions.

They also work closely with other clinicians to ensure appropriate support is in place for patients who are getting ready to be discharged.

Occupational therapy awareness week is aimed at promoting ways in which the profession improves the lives of patients and service users while attempting to make the health and care system more efficient.