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Be a Voluntary Occupational Therapist Assistant

By: Lynne Conner - Updated: 31 Jul 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Occupational Therapist Volunteering

An occupational therapist works with people to enable them to live as independently as possible and to manage their daily lives. Volunteers assist therapists in practical ways and in their work with patients. Patients may have had an accident or illness such as a stroke or they may be elderly, disabled, have mental health issues or learning difficulties.

What is the Role?

Volunteer Occupational Therapists (OTs) also known as occupational therapist support volunteers generally assist OTs in their role. Volunteering can be a good way to gain experience if you are thinking of becoming an OT or working in the health field. It is also rewarding in its own right and puts you at the heart of a team. Roles may be available in hospitals, day care centres or in the community at client’s own homes.

Who can Volunteer?

Volunteers need good people and communication skills. Experience in working with disabled people is an advantage and certainly you must feel able to work with vulnerable and disabled people. The role requires flexibility, patience and calmness.

You need to be considerate of patients’ needs and rights and have an ability to get on with all kinds of people. Empathy and an ability to motivate people are important and respect for confidentiality is essential. Basic levels of fitness are needed as you need to be able to carry out physical tasks. Practical skills you can share (such as knitting) are helpful and you must be reliable and feel happy to work in a team. As you will be working with vulnerable adults a Disclosure background check will be required.

What is Involved?

An OT assesses a patient and then works with them to improve their wellbeing. You will help support the patient’s rehabilitation and encourage positive thinking. You may assist the therapist with equipment during treatment and may accompany patients to and from treatment and keep them company as they wait.

Practical help can include cleaning and disinfecting equipment, collecting and delivering linen and checking on equipment, noticing the need for any repairs and keeping an inventory of it. You may also act as a messenger for OTs and nurses.

Many tasks will directly involve you with patients. Work may be one to one or with groups. You may assist with classes in arts and crafts such as painting and drawing, pottery or making cards. Other life skills classes could include cookery and baking.

You could show patients how use equipment designed to assist them in daily life, and perhaps help to install equipment for them in their homes. Support people to take part in social activities and help them to develop a daily routine as they return to the community.

You will monitor milestones on the way to achieving goals and provide feedback to professional occupational therapists.

You will receive training and ongoing support and may want to work towards a qualification such as NVQ in Health. As you volunteer you will notice changes and improvements in the lives and wellbeing of the patients you work with and will help them to become reintegrated in the local community.

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[Add a Comment]
Hi there my name is Dhivya, & I am wishing to become an occupational therapist. I live in South East London. I am looking to do my Masters next year in Occupational Therapy. What is the procedure of getting work experience to work under an Occupational Therapist? Please do let me know. Thanks Dhivya
Dhivya Kumaramurthy - 31-Jul-18 @ 8:55 PM
nkrol - Your Question:
Hi, I would love to volunteer as an OTA in order to gain some work experience for my postgraduate course. I have already completed my Bachelor degree in Psychology. Additionally, I am currently working as Health Care Support Worker in Psychiatric Hospital. Would you be able to give me some advice how could I find volunteering in Hertfordshire or London? Many thanks.

Our Response:
Occupational therapy clinics, both private and NHS, tend not to advertise voluntary opportunities, so the easiest thing to do is to search "Occupational Therapy East London" or similar and contact organisations directly.
CommunityHelpers - 18-Apr-18 @ 2:04 PM
Hi, I would love to volunteer as an OTA in order to gain some work experience for my postgraduate course. I have already completed my Bachelor degree in Psychology. Additionally, I am currently working as Health Care Support Worker in Psychiatric Hospital. Would you be able to give me some advice how could I find volunteering in Hertfordshire or London? Many thanks.
nkrol - 17-Apr-18 @ 12:42 PM
Hello. I live in Surrey. My friend, Julia, and I are currently completing our first year of A levels and are both interested in occupational therapy and need advice on how to gain experience in this field. We are looking for a weeks worth of experience in July this year. Many Thanks Hoppy and Julia X
hoppy - 21-Mar-18 @ 11:54 AM
Hi I am a skills and volunteer coordinator at a supported housing project working with the homeless/rough sleepers and we are in desperate need of an occupational therapist to volunteer their services about once a week to help our residents, we are based in Manchester if there is anyone out there who needs to gain experience please get in touch. Kind regards Jacky
Jacky - 8-Mar-18 @ 9:51 AM
Anta - Your Question:
Hello. I live in Dagenham, I have a BA degree in Health and Social Care as well as GCSE in English and Maths. I am currently working as a Romanian Interpreter but I would like to have a carrer in Health and Social Care because I have studied for this. I am looking to volunteer as an Occupational Therapist assistant in East London because I want to gain experience. I mention that I volunteered for more than 2 years in a Day Centre both for children and adults with disabilities.

Our Response:
Occupational therapy clinics, both private and NHS, tend not to advertise voluntary opportunities, so the easiest thing to do is to search "Occupational Therapy East London" or similar and contact organisations directly.
CommunityHelpers - 5-Mar-18 @ 1:52 PM
Hello. I live in Dagenham, I have a BA degree in Health and Social Care as well as GCSE in English and Maths. I am currently working as a Romanian Interpreter but I would like to have a carrer in Health and Social Care because I have studied for this. I am looking to volunteer as an Occupational Therapist assistant in East London because I want to gain experience.I mention that I volunteered for more than 2 years in a Day Centre both for children and adults with disabilities.
Anta - 2-Mar-18 @ 2:05 PM
Emma - Your Question:
Hi I live in Sheffield I’m looking for a days volunteering preferably for occupational thearpy as I’m wanting to go to university but will need some experience within this area of work. I work full time so I am only limited to a day of volunteering. Thank you in advance.

Our Response:
Please see our response to @Liz below. The same will apply but try "Sheffield" in your search.
CommunityHelpers - 28-Feb-18 @ 2:31 PM
Hi I live in Sheffield I’m looking for a days volunteering preferably for occupational thearpy as I’m wanting to go to university but will need some experience within this area of work. I work full time so I am only limited to a day of volunteering. Thank you in advance.
Emma - 27-Feb-18 @ 1:17 PM
Hello, I am a Sheffield Hallam University student, and I am in need of an Occupational Therapy placement. I live in Selston, Nottinghamshire, and I have been struggling to find a placement suited to my needs. I need a minimum of 200 hours of work placement and my preferred area is Occupational Therapy. I would be truly grateful if I could you could contact me ASAP. Thank you.
Emily - 22-Nov-17 @ 9:33 AM
Liz - Your Question:
Hi, I am a student and live in Birmingham and was wondering how id go about finding opportunities in my area. I have been scouring the internet but can’t seem to find anything voluantary in this sector. Any advice would be appreciated, Thank you!

Our Response:
Occupational therapy clinics, both private and NHS, tend not to advertise voluntary opportunities, so the easiest thing to do is to search "Occupational Therapy Birmingham" or similar and contact organisations directly.
CommunityHelpers - 7-Nov-17 @ 2:14 PM
Hi, I am a student and live in Birmingham and was wondering how id go about finding opportunities in my area. I have been scouring the internet but can’t seem to find anything voluantary in this sector. Any advice would be appreciated, Thank you!
Liz - 6-Nov-17 @ 9:56 AM
I was wondering can i be contacted please in order to do occupational therapy volunteering work in order to get into university, thank you
N - 29-Oct-17 @ 1:36 PM
Hi i would be really interested to do some voluntary work in the occupational therapy sector. I have a btec national diploma in health and social care level 3. I have completed placements in a carehome and community centre and working with the elderly and i really enjoyed it. I want this to help in the furture for applying for university. Thanks
Nisha - 21-Oct-17 @ 8:21 PM
Hello I would like to get some experience from OT . I am looking for job as an OT assistant whether it is paid or voluntary. It will help me on my further education in the University. Please email me as soon as possible.
Ashraf - 11-Oct-17 @ 11:10 AM
Hello I would like to do some volunteering in this sector please email me. I am university student going into OT masters and I would love volunteer. Many thanks, Nelab
Nelab Shoaib - 8-Oct-17 @ 3:19 PM
Hi, I live in Norwich, Norfolk and studying psychology and just about to begin my third year. I am interested in a masters in occupational therapy after I graduate and really would like the experience to make sure that it is right for me. I could also work in Colchester, Essex if there is no placements available in Norwich. If you could give me some more information on volunteering that would be very helpful. Thank you in advance. Megan
Meg - 20-Aug-17 @ 5:41 PM
Chelsea- Your Question:
I live in Worcestershire and am currently studying psychology at university where I will be starting my second year in September. I have taken on an internship module to help progress with the future and I am looking to take on either an internship or voluntary work as a occupational therapy support worker. This is the first webpage I have been able to find information, is there anywhere that may be of interest for me and in my area. Thank you

Our Response:
Which area do you live in?
CommunityHelpers - 14-Aug-17 @ 12:38 PM
I live in Worcestershire and am currently studying psychology at university where I will be starting my second year in September. I have taken on an internship module to help progress with the future and I am looking to take on either an internship or voluntary work as a occupational therapy support worker. This is the first webpage I have been able to find information, is there anywhere that may be of interest for me and in my area. Thank you
Chelsea - 11-Aug-17 @ 10:26 PM
I am intrested in becoming a occupational therapy support worker and am wondering what the best route would be to gain a posistion it it. I have experience with children and SEN. I was thinking of volunteering to gain experience and see if the job is or me. How could I gain voluntary experience?
Yvonne - 10-Feb-17 @ 11:32 AM
If you contact local hospital switchboard and ask for either Therapy department and ask about the experience or contact HR if looking for a job position or NHS Job website search NHS Jobs on google. I work as a OTA and can apply through NHS Jobs
OTA - Holly - 7-Oct-16 @ 3:49 PM
I am having to complete work experience later this school year (June/July time) and I would either like to be an occupational or cognitive therapist. Would this be a good idea for me to do work experience as. If not, do you have any ideas as to where I could do it?
Leighr1999 - 24-Sep-16 @ 5:52 PM
Hello, I just came back from America. I have a bachelors degree in exercise science. I just wanted to ask, how likely am I to get a OTA job? Do I need further qualification? Please let me know. Thank you
Lina - 11-Sep-16 @ 6:33 PM
Hi there I'm currently studying OT in Sydney, Australia (in third year of a four year undergraduate degree). I will be in Coventry for approximately 6 weeks in January/ February 2017. How do you suggest I go about gaining some voluntary experience when I'm living there? Are there any clinics or hospital email addresses you could suggest I get in contact with before I arrive? I have all medical checks required for Australian hospitals and have already completed 1000 clinical hours required for my degree. Many thanks!
Gretel - 29-Aug-16 @ 1:36 AM
Ash - Your Question:
Hi I am currently living in east London. I have been offered a conditional offer at London south bank university which requires me to shadow a OT for a day in order to be accepted before end of Seotember and I am interested to do some voluntary work.

Our Response:
Try contacting your local NHS to see if there's any voluntary work available. You might also want to search for private OT clinics on the Internet and make some contact individually.
CommunityHelpers - 25-Aug-16 @ 11:30 AM
Hi I am currently living in east London. I have been offered a conditional offer at London south bank university which requires me to shadow a OT for a day in order to be accepted before end of Seotember and I am interested to do some voluntary work .
Ash - 22-Aug-16 @ 1:57 PM
Hi, I am currently an A-level student and want to go to study occupational therapy at university but wanted to get some experiencebefore hand. I live in Leicester. Is there any chance that I an get the experience here?
Mariam - 25-Feb-16 @ 2:01 PM
Sally - Your Question:
Can you please advise at what age you take on volunteers?

Our Response:
We don't take on volunteers, this site simply offers advice on volunteering in various fields. In legal or health roles however, volunteers are usually expected to be over 18.
CommunityHelpers - 11-Jan-16 @ 12:32 PM
Can you please advise at what age you take on volunteers?
Sally - 10-Jan-16 @ 9:47 AM
hi, I live in Kent and am looking for an opportunity to shadow an OT for a few day, I have contacted local clinic and hospitals, however for confidential reason they cannot. Help
PC - 9-Dec-15 @ 2:33 PM
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