Occupational therapists (OTs) work as part of a multidisciplinary team to help patients overcome the effects of disability caused by illness, ageing or an accident. This page provides information about inpatient occupational therapy at the Royal Free London.

Find out more about occupational therapy on the Royal College of Occupational Therapy website.

Occupational therapists work within the multidisciplinary teams across the Barnet Hospital inpatient wards and the emergency department. 

They work as part of a multidisciplinary team to help patients overcome the effects of disability caused by illness, ageing or an accident. They assess and treat patients with physical and/or cognitive impairments.

Occupational therapists assess their ability to carry out everyday activities to determine whether they are safe to be discharged from hospital or if they require additional support, equipment or assistance at home.

They aim to start their interventions early in the patient's hospital journey to help maintain and improve their function, as well as prevent functional deterioration and reduce the time they need to stay in hospital.

Our team of therapists also give advice on falls prevention, arrange necessary equipment or adaptations for people’s homes, and signpost or refer patients to appropriate support services, to help them manage at home and continue their rehabilitation and recovery in their home environment. 

Occupational therapists specialise in treating a variety of different conditions, working with other healthcare professionals to achieve the best patient care. 

Clinical specialities include:

  • rapid emergency and acute care therapy team
  • respiratory and surgical, including ITU
  • health services for elderly people
  • acute neurology and stroke
  • trauma and orthopaedics.

You can find more information about occupational therapy via the Royal College of Occupational Therapists website.

Our occupational therapists use specific activities to promote independence in all aspects of daily life. On our wards, occupational therapists work as part of a multidisciplinary team to help patients overcome the effects of disability caused by illness, ageing or an accident.

Occupational therapy provides assessment of functional tasks and practical support to help people to recover, and to overcome any barriers that prevent them from returning to their everyday lives. We will arrange any necessary support or adaptations needed to support your discharge home. This may include home visits, and the provision of adaptive equipment or aids.

Our occupational therapists specialise in treating a variety of different conditions, working with other healthcare professionals to achieve the best patient care.

Their clinic specialities include:

The team work with people with a cancer diagnosis who are having treatment to cure their cancer, or treatment to manage this palliatively.

This may include advice on managing symptoms, exercise, returning home from hospital when someone has been unwell, or supporting someone with where they want to be at the end of their life.

Occupational therapists work with people who are on the inpatient ward. They aim to support in managing routines, making adaptations where needed and suggesting any support to enable someone to live as fully as they can.

They work as part of a bigger team of people including the medical and nursing teams, palliative care teams and community services.

Occupational therapy at Marie Curie Hospice, Hampstead

The occupational therapy service at the Marie Curie Hospice aims to work with patients on ‘what matters to you’.

The team work holistically to focus on the patient’s goals, whether an inpatient or outpatient, aiming to improve quality of life and ensure patients feel supported and comfortable at any stage of their illness.

This can include working on people’s functional skills for everyday tasks, improving activities tolerance and working towards managing fatigue, to taking patients on the ward into the garden with a cup of tea.

Our occupational therapists focus on what is important to patients and their families and provide therapeutic input.


If you are referred to our outpatient gym programme, you will initially require an assessment by the medical team.

You will then be seen one to one by a physiotherapist who will assess you and work on a bespoke programme for you in the gym for 12 weeks.

You will have continued assessments and reviews, progressing/regressing your programme as required, in line with any medical treatment that may be ongoing.

Occupational therapists work together with physiotherapists to assess patient mobility and function.

They may be involved, along with the wider team, in planning discharge and making onward referrals for ongoing rehabilitation. 

Occupational therapists provide an essential role within respiratory medicine, working with patients who have a range of diagnoses which may impact their function.

The team aim to help people achieve and maintain their highest levels of independence and quality of life where possible.

They provide a patient-centred approach to improve a person's functional abilities, mobility, and cognitive functions. 

Occupational therapists provide expert assessment, advice and treatment in:

  • Rehabilitation to support an individual’s return to independence in everyday activities following an acute illness.
  • Compensatory strategies including adaptive techniques, assistive equipment and recommendations for care. 
  • Assessment of environment and issue or advice on modifications. 
  • Referral to onward services (eg social care, community therapy and voluntary services).
  • Assessment and advice in discharge planning, to achieve a safe discharge from hospital with a home-first approach.
  • Identifying frailty syndromes (including falls, delirium, immobility, incontinence and medication management) to support care plans.
  • End of life care, advocating for patients and supporting discharges to a patient’s preferred place of death where appropriate.

Occupational therapists may provide a pre-surgery service to patients coming in for orthopaedic elective surgery. 

The team conduct ‘joint school’ for patients due to have a knee or hip replacement surgery. This service provides advice and information to patients to assist them in preparing for their surgery, as well as arranging home visits to deal with any environment/equipment needs. 

Common occupational therapy interventions include:

  • assessment of ability to perform activities of daily living (ADL)
  • provision of small aids and equipment to assist with performing these ADLs
  • postural advice and education around specific conditions, as well as detailing precautions to be followed after some types of surgery
  • home visits are carried out when there are complex equipment needs (eg hoists, hospital beds) or if the patients’ needs cannot adequately be assessed in the hospital setting (eg patients with dementia)

The occupational therapy service carries out a wide variety of assessments, both functional and cognitive, to facilitate compliance to vascular recommendations and to maximise independence.

The team also provide community access visits and specialist recommendations to ensure vascular patients return home to an environment suited to their needs.

The team's other clinical specialities are: 

  • critical care
  • hand therapy and plastic surgery
  • liver and digestive health
  • neurology and stroke rehabilitation
  • rapid emergency and acute medicine 
  • renal and urology