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HRH The Princess Royal visits occupational therapy

Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, as Patron of Royal College of Occupational Therapists, visited West Suffolk Hospital yesterday (Wednesday 28 March) where she met staff and heard first-hand about the work of occupational therapists across the west of the county.

Her Royal Highness met with occupational therapy teams from the West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (WSFT), based in Bury St Edmunds, who provide innovative therapy services for patients to help them improve their independence, health, and ability to complete everyday tasks.

Stephen Dunn, chief executive of WSFT, said: “We are delighted to have been able to host this very special visit. Her Royal Highness’ patronage at the Royal College of Occupational Therapists has helped raise the profile of the role of occupational therapists across the country, and we were incredibly grateful for the words of support and encouragement she shared with our staff.”

The Princess Royal was ‘delighted’ to attend the event, and in addressing the staff and distinguished guests in attendance, recognised the important role that occupational therapists play in patient care.

On a tour of the occupational therapy department, Her Royal Highness received presentations from staff about the Trust’s support to go home service, which provides close collaboration between health acute and social services to support the timely discharge of patients back home; the medically optimised team, which supports moving patients from the hospital to more appropriate beds in the community; and the early intervention team, which supports admission prevention to the hospital from the emergency department, and from the community for patients whose medical needs can be managed at home by putting in the necessary therapy and care required.

The Trust’s lymphoedema service was also showcased, with a Trust therapist and patient speaking to the Princess Royal about the implications of lymphoedema, and the support provided by the occupational therapy teams to help patients overcome the limitations the illness brings.

Gylda Nunn, integrated therapies manager for WSFT, said: “Working with occupational therapists has been nothing but a positive, worthwhile and fulfilling experience. I have found that occupational therapists are problem solvers. They embrace change. They are natural leaders. And their commitment to quality and innovation is the reason why so many new services are led by them – and this is no easy task given some of the new and acute pressures felt in health and social care.

“I am delighted about the opportunity of this visit. It has been a chance to let our West Suffolk occupational therapists celebrate together – from mental health, social services, and community, to paediatrics, hospice, the hospital, and a number of specialisms such as hand therapy and wheelchair services. More and more we are working together, and there are exciting times ahead as there is still so much we can do - and are now empowered and supported to do so.”

Commenting on the visit, chief executive of RCOT Julia Scott added: “It was a delight to visit a Trust where occupational therapy is deployed so significantly and see the enormous impact the profession has on the excellent standard of care delivered here. Her Royal Highness has been a long-standing supporter of RCOT and occupational therapy and it is truly rewarding to see how far we have come as a profession under her patronage.”

The WSFT occupational therapy department helps to support patients’ post-hospital care, and works with them in the community to help prevent hospital attendances. The team plays a vital role in helping the Trust, this year rated as Outstanding by the Care Quality Commission, to deliver exemplary stroke care and the best fractured hip outcomes in the country. 

HRH OT Visit3

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HRH The Princess Royal, speaks to occupational therapists and patient during her visit.

HRH The Princess Royal, speaks to occupational therapists and patient during her visit.