What occupational therapy is, what a children's social care occupational therapist does and where they work.

What is occupational therapy

Occupational therapy helps make everyday activities easier for children and young people with physical and sensory impairments, developmental and cognitive needs. 

It helps them with normal daily living activities, such as: 

  • washing
  • dressing
  • using the toilet
  • getting in and out of the bath
  • moving around their home
  • doing their schoolwork
  • eating
  • playing

Occupational therapists work for the health service and for the council's social care services. Their work focuses on different areas and this is explained in the leaflet pdf Occupational Therapy Provision in Bristol (136 KB) .

What a children's social care occupational therapist does

The occupational therapist will assess your child's needs and look at:

  • specialist equipment for bathing, seating, toileting and sleeping
  • equipment to help your child move from one place to another and moving and handling
  • adaptations to property, such as ramps and level access showers

Where social care occupational therapists work

Occupational therapists mostly work with children in their homes, but will sometimes see them in school.

Before you refer your child for occupational therapy

We do not accept referrals for general safety advice and guidance. All parents and carers have a responsibility to carry out safety measures for their own children.

Before making a referral, read the information in our pdf Parents and Carers Safety Booklet (793 KB) .

If you have read the information in the safety booklet and you want to discuss a case or need advice on how to proceed:

  • leave a message for our Consultation Service on 0117 903 8250 and an Occupational Therapist will call you back, or
  • email dcsot@bristol.gov.uk

How to make a referral for social care occupational therapy

We take referrals from everyone, including:

If you're a parent or carer, use our form to refer your child for occupational therapy.

Refer your child for occupational therapy

Your child must:

  • be under 18 years old
  • have needs linked to their impairment that can't be met by universal services 
  • live within the city of Bristol

What happens after a referral

If we think your child may be eligible for a service, we'll carry out an assessment of your child's needs, which will also consider your needs. 

Your child may be placed on a waiting list because there is high demand for this service. 

The occupational therapist will visit you to carry out an assessment. They'll look at what your child is able to do and what activities they're having difficulty with, including:

  • getting into and around their home
  • sitting in a chair 
  • using the toilet, bath, shower and their bed
  • safety around the home and garden
  • moving and handling

They may then suggest a new way of carrying out an activity, such as by:

  • recommending adjustments to your home, such as a ramp, rails or a lift 
  • recommending special equipment which makes the activity easier, such as a special chair that gives more support
  • recommending safety measures around the home
  • supporting you to move to a more suitable property

The pdf occupational therapy provision leaflet (136 KB)  explains what type of support your child may get, depending on what sort of needs they have.