Occupational Therapy Support Worker

Occupational Therapy Support Workers care for people with a range of physical, mental or social issues. They help with the assessment, treatment and implementation of care plans for patients in hospitals, clinics or in their own homes.

As part of the occupational therapy team, they provide practical help, so patients can continue doing day-to-day tasks and activities they enjoy. They also work with other health and social care professionals, such as nursing staff and social workers.

NHS Occupational Therapy Support Worker in Scotland

Occupational Therapy Support Workers normally work under the supervision of registered Occupational Therapists to help people of all ages to carry out day-to-day activities with confidence and control. Support staff working at more senior levels are usually known as Assistant Practitioners.

Once the patient’s needs have been assessed by the Occupational Therapist, you may help them to:

  • create a daily routine and learn or re-learn skills, such as washing or dressing themselves
  • achieve goals such as going shopping or preparing a simple meal
  • adjust their lifestyle after an accident or major surgery
  • learn new ways of doing things and develop strategies after suffering from a stroke or brain injury
  • use mobility aids, adaptations or assistive technology to get around or use household equipment

You would also support and encourage clients, reporting back to the Occupational Therapist on their progress.

Occupational Therapy Support Workers help ensure patients have all the special aids they need and that the equipment is in good working order.

To become an Occupational Therapy Support Worker, useful skills include:

  • good communication skills
  • good practical and domestic skills
  • a good level of physical fitness

Useful abilities include:

  • a caring and encouraging attitude
  • patience and empathy
  • tact and sensitivity
  • the ability to relate to people of all ages and backgrounds
  • the ability to work in a team
  • the ability to remain calm and positive in challenging situations
  • the ability to motivate and reassure people
  • confident working with groups or individuals

To apply for a job as an Occupational Therapy Support Worker, you are likely to need a good standard of general education, including English and Maths. Previous experience of paid or voluntary work in a hospital or other healthcare setting may also be an advantage.

The specific entry requirements will depend on the Agenda for Change (AfC) band (2, 3 or 4) for the job. The qualifications asked for will also vary depending on the requirements of the recruiting NHSScotland board. You are advised to contact each individual board to find out its specific requirements.

You may also require or be encouraged to work towards an SQA SVQ Level 2 or 3 Healthcare Support (Clinical). Find out more about these and other qualifications for people working in the NHS in Scotland, on the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) website.

When applying to become an occupational therapy support worker, you’ll need evidence of your good health and character, and background checks, such as the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme managed by Disclosure Scotland.

Modern Apprenticeships offer those aged over 16 paid employment with the opportunity to train for jobs at craft, technician and management level.

The Modern Apprenticeship in Healthcare Support (clinical) at SCQF Level 6 and SCQF Level 7 is a framework for people interested in working in a clinical healthcare setting.

For more information about this Modern Apprenticeship framework, look at:

Contact your local NHSScotland board to find out if this Modern Apprenticeship is available in your area.

Induction training will be provided by the recruiting NHSScotland board when you start. You would also be expected to additional in-service  training, which normally covers the following:

  • infection control
  • risk management
  • health and safety

Career development

Working closely with Occupational Therapists and experienced support workers, and by completing a supervised programme of training will allow you to develop your skills.

You may also be encouraged to work towards further education qualifications, such as SQA HNC Occupational Therapy Support at SCQF Level 7. Other SCQF level 7 courses are available. Occupational Therapy Support Staff working as Assistant Practitioners may be seconded by their employer to complete an approved pre-registration degree in occupational therapy on a part-time or in-service basis. This could be the first step you take towards becoming a qualified Occupational Therapist.


Find out more information from these professional bodies:

Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC)

The HCPC is an independent, UK-wide regulatory body responsible for setting and maintaining standards for health, psychological, and in England; social work professionals. It maintains a public register of qualified professionals and works to improve industry standards and education. Visit the HCPC website to find out more.


The Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT)

RCOT is the professional body representing occupational therapists across the UK. It works to promote the benefits of occupational therapy to the public, service commissioners and political representatives. 

Occupational Therapy Support Workers can join the Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT) as associate members. The organisation provides courses, conferences and seminars where occupational therapy support workers can update their skills and network with others doing similar work.

Find out more on the RCOT website.