How to become an occupational therapy support worker

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
  • applying directly

College

You could do a college course to get into this job. Relevant subjects include:

  • Level 2 Certificate in Work Preparation for Health and Social Care
  • Level 2 Diploma in Health and Social Care
  • Level 3 National Extended Diploma in Health and Social Care

Most health and social care courses include work placements so this could be a good way of getting experience.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course

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Apprenticeship

You can do a health care support worker intermediate apprenticeship or a senior healthcare support worker advanced apprenticeship. 

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship

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Work

You could start as a healthcare assistant and learn on the job. You could move into occupational therapy work through training and promotion.

Volunteering

You'll find it useful to get some paid or unpaid voluntary experience in a healthcare setting or a caring role with older people, or people with physical disabilities, or learning difficulties.

You could contact the voluntary services co-ordinator at your local NHS trust for further advice.

Direct Application

You can apply directly for jobs if you've got relevant skills and experience from work like care or health-related roles.

Employers may ask for a qualification in a health-related subject, and experience of working with people.

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Further information

You can find out more about becoming an occupational therapy support worker from the Royal College of Occupational Therapists and Health Careers.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • knowledge of psychology
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • the ability to work well with others
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • customer service skills
  • counselling skills including active listening and a non-judgemental approach
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

In this role, you might:

  • encourage people with mental health issues to create a daily routine
  • assist children with physical disabilities to enjoy play activities
  • help people who’ve had a stroke or been in an accident to adjust to their disability
  • show an older person how to use equipment to help them remain living independently.
  • check that equipment is in good working order and keeping a record of items in stock

Working environment

You could work in an NHS or private hospital or at a client's home.

Career path and progression

With experience, you could become a team leader and supervise other occupational therapy support workers.

You could also train as an assistant practitioner and study for a foundation degree. You could then go on to train as an occupational therapist.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Level 3 - Senior Healthcare Worker Apprenticeship

  • Wage: £160.00 Weekly
  • Location: Nottingham

Apprentice Senior Health Care Support Worker

  • Wage: £146.25 Weekly
  • Location: Hull

Courses In England

Diploma in H&SC and C&YP services Level 5

  • Provider: VOCATIONAL TRAINING SERVICES CARE SECTOR LIMITED
  • Start date: 01 October 2020
  • Location:

Health and Social Care Diploma Level 1

  • Provider: LTE GROUP
  • Start date: 08 February 2021
  • Location: Manchester

Jobs In the United Kingdom

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