Occupational Therapy students step up the career ladder thanks to first ever UK training

Date 15.03.2019

Occupational Therapy students got ahead of their peers today (14 March), becoming the first in the country to complete new training to help them work with older people living with frailty.

The University’s Occupational Therapy suites were ‘turned into’ an approximation of the home of ‘Millie’, a fictional person who is experiencing frailty.

Throughout the day students completed a series of immersive clinical simulation sessions designed to help them develop their skills at identifying and assessing the impact of frailty on ‘Millie’s’ everyday life.

Through discussion and analysis, the students completed assessments in the kitchen, bathroom and bedroom of the OT suite to decide which recommendations might help people like ‘Millie’.

image photo discussion frailty occupational therapy

The students are deep in discussion in the OT kitchen at Waterside, considering how they can best help ‘Millie’ maintain her independence.

The key outcome was that ‘Millie’ retains her independence and continues to enjoy a high quality of life, a cornerstone of occupational therapy practice.

The clinical simulation was aligned against a national capabilities framework for frailty, meaning that University of Northampton Occupational Therapy students will be “fit for frailty”.

This greatly enhances their employability as they enter the profession and University of Northampton is the first programme to align this level of training in an undergraduate programme.

The day concluded with students taking up the chance to make a pledge and become a ‘Frailty Friend’.

This new scheme was launched recently and demonstrates their commitment to meet the needs of an ageing population, contributing to the effectiveness in delivering the NHS’ Long Term Plan.

By making a pledge as a Frailty Friend, they promise to raise awareness about frailty and its effects on both older people and their carers and to be able to identify, assess and plan care that is timely in meeting the needs of those experiencing frailty in Northamptonshire.

Northampton students are also the first in the country to have this opportunity.

Emma Holman, Year 2 student (pictured at top) said of the day: “Your immediate thoughts when you hear the word ‘frailty’ tend to be negative. But throughout the day, as you consider how you can help from a person-centred perspective, I saw how Occupational Therapy can turn a negative condition like frailty into a positive outcome. This was a really enjoyable day and I’m glad to be Frailty Aware”.

Kim Stuart, Senior Lecturer in Occupational Therapy and who is leading the University’s Frailty initiatives said: “There has been momentous drive across the health and social care to better understand and support people who are living with frail in Northamptonshire, reflecting the University of Northampton’s ethos of having social impact and sharing resources, skills, time and expertise to meet a social or environmental need.

“Occupational Therapists are a key professional group in working within older people experiencing frailty and we will continue to work with Northamptonshire services in ensuring that all our undergraduates and postgraduates are fit for frailty for now and in the future. I’m very proud of our students who took part in today’s training and what they will go on to achieve.”

University of Northampton Occupational Therapy Practice Educators received a glowing commendation last year following a course validation by the Royal College of Occupational Therapists, noting that graduates were “much in demand.”

Find out more about Occupational Therapy at University of Northampton, whether through the full-time route or full-time Extended route (here, students study for three years – although academic years are slightly longer – but the route includes less weekly attendance, meaning students with work or family commitments can more easily accommodate academic studies).

Find out more about the University’s Advanced (MSc) in Occupational Therapy.