Occupational Therapy - A Successful Addition to the HAIL Support Service

Karolyn Ward - Thursday, February 08, 2018

From June until December of 2017 HAIL employed Claire Considine, an Occupational Therapist to work with both HAIL tenants and clients living in other forms of accommodation. Occupational therapy is a profession which enables individuals with mental health problems to learn, re-learn and develop skills needed to live life to the fullest. It has been found to significantly impact on an individual's ability to engage in daily life activities that are meaningful and lead to productive daily routines (AOTA, 2012). Occupational Therapists working in mental health provide a variety of interventions including: evaluating and adapting the environment, working with clients to develop a balanced routine, enabling clients to engage in social or leisure activities, facilitating the development of skills of independent living, managing one’s home, managing one’s time, supporting clients to engage in training or employment or working on anxiety/stress management. As each individual has different needs, strengths and challenges, assessment is client-centred and interventions are tailored specifically to the individual. 

Eleven HAIL clients were referred to Occupational Therapy in 2017, six of these were HAIL tenants and five were clients supported by HAIL, living in other forms of accommodation. These clients were referred for a variety of different interventions and assessment was carried out with all of them to determine their specific areas of need.  Five clients had 2-3 sessions while six clients went through a programme of 8-13 weekly sessions. These clients worked on areas of independent living such as cooking, home management, budgeting, self-care, healthy eating, social activity, education and training. A huge part of the process for many clients was working on motivation and mastery in order to be able to believe that they could achieve their goals. This means breaking an activity down into smaller steps so the client succeeds and becomes more confident in their achievement.


One client had not had the opportunity to prepare their own food for a long time as a result of living circumstances. This client relearned cooking skills step by step and became competent in this area. This client also rediscovered the joy of cooking and feeling independent in doing so.

Home management

One client had difficulty managing the home and found this extremely overwhelming. Over a period of weeks this client learned how to break tasks down into smaller tasks in order to make household tasks more doable and had great success with this technique. This client in grew in competence and confidence over a period of 9 weekly sessions.

Healthy eating

Two clients gained a greater understanding of healthy eating and the effect of a poor diet on both mental and physical health. These clients learned how to prepare foods which contribute to a reduction of digestive discomfort and related pain.

Social activity

Two clients became involved in new social activities with the help of occupational therapy. These clients worked for a number of weeks on motivation and developing a balanced routine before gradually engaging with the Gateway Mental Health Project and the Men’s Shed. Both of these clients reported enjoyment and achievement as a result of engaging with these groups.


One client engaged in two courses at Crosscare Community College with the support of the occupational therapist. This client now intends to return to work and was provided with support on CV preparation and how to manage job-hunting by the occupational therapist. Another client is currently studying for his Driver Theory Test.

Overall, all clients involved worked extremely hard and gave the sessions their all. Goals were reached by many and longer term goals were created by others due to a newfound sense of confidence in their abilities. Huge thanks to all clients involved and best of luck to them all in their next endeavours.

(C) HAIL 2012