The Rheumatology Occupational Therapists support their patients to ‘overcome barriers preventing them from doing the activities (or occupations) that matter to them. This support increases people’s independence and satisfaction in all aspects of life’ (Royal College of Occupational Therapists; 2019).
Referrals are accepted from:
- Rheumatology Consultants
- Rheumatology Nurse Specialists
- Rheumatology AHP colleagues
These will be prioritised in order to identify the patients who require urgent OT intervention to reduce risk, and those who can wait for a routine appointment. Please click her for referral criteria.
Inflammatory joint disease or connective tissue disease causing difficulties with any of their everyday activities, or problems with hand function
- Inflammatory joint disease or connective tissue disease causing significant difficulty in any of the following areas:
- Significant difficulty with transfers
- Significant difficulty with toileting
- Significant difficulty with feeding
- High risk of falls
- Risk of hospital admission
- Struggling to maintain employment or education
- Unable to safely carry out carer responsibilities
Exclusions from specialist Occupational Therapist input:
- Generalised OA
- Chronic pain
People who do not meet the criteria can self refer to Community l Occupational Therapy services by contacting their local social work department.
What should I expect from my appointment?
Rheumatology Occupational Therapists are based at Stirling Community Hospital and Clackmannanshire Community Hospital.
At the current time, appointments are offered via video calls using Near Me, or via telephone consultations to limit the spread of infectious diseases. Out patient appointments are also available if required.
Assessments will last approximately 1 hour and will consider functional difficulties you may be having in the areas of self-care, productivity and leisure.
What treatment do Occupational Therapy provide?
- Provide advice about aids and techniques to increase independence with everyday activities
- Joint protection education
- Splinting and hand exercises
- Fatigue Management
- Home visits
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Emotional support
- Referrals to other services
We are able to offer equipment and advice about small aids you can purchase privately to increase your independence such as self care, productivity and leisure.
These are techniques which can be adopted to reduce aches, pain and strain on your joints.
Further information can be found at:
Splinting and Hand Exercises
Splints are rigid or flexible devices which assist in maintaining the position of your hand or wrist to ease strain or pain. The Occupational Therapist may provide you with a specific hand exercise programme. An example of a simple programme of exercises can be found on NHS Inform.
Fatigue differs from normal tiredness in that it is not resolved by a good night’s rest. It can cause a sustained sense of exhaustion that is debilitating and reduces people’s ability to carry out their everyday activities. Occupational Therapy can offer advice to help people cope well despite fatigue.
Further information can be found at:
- Managing Fatigue | Versus Arthritis
- Fatigue matters | NRAS
- Lift up your everyday with OT Life Hacks for managing your energy | RCOT
- Sleep and arthritis | Versus Arthritis
- Sleep Better with Sleepio – Online Help for People Struggling with Poor Sleep and Insomnia
The Rheumatology Occupational Therapist may want to carry out an environmental analysis by suggesting that they or the Occupational Therapy Assistant Practitioner, visit the patient at home.
Assessing the home environment can also be arranged, often more quickly using ‘Near Me’ technology. This also lessens the spread of infectious diseases and it reduces staff travel time.
For many Rheumatology patients, work is an essential activity and the Occupational Therapist can provide information and support to help individuals manage their health at work or return to work after illness.
Support is also available via Working Health Service Forth Valley. This is a free, confidential service that supports local patients in employment to return to work, or remain at work if they are struggling to cope due to their health. Patients can contact the service directly on freephone 0800 019 2212 and select option1- working health services.
Patients who are unemployed can contact the Fair Start Scotland service where they can receive training and support to help gain work. Fair Start Scotland in Forth valley is delivered locally by Falkirk council and can be contacted on 01324 504408 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Further information can be found at nras.org.uk/publications/I-want-to-work and An employer’s guide to rheumatoid arthritis | NRAS
Even if an individual is not experiencing any difficulties at present, the Rheumatology Occupational Therapist can still provide and make recommendations to help limit the impact that the Rheumatic condition may have on day-to-day tasks on the future.
People who may be experiencing symptoms of stress and low mood, as well as people who want to feel better about themselves, can benefit from activities and services that we know can improve well-being.
Further information can be found at:
- Emotions Relationships Sexuality | NRAS
- Sex and arthritis – how to make it work | Versus Arthritis
- Emotional Wellbeing | Versus Arthritis
- Mental Health & Wellbeing | NHS Forth Valley
- Silverline (The Silver Line Helpline) – Helpline run by Age UK is a free, confidential telephone service for older people.
Following an assessment, Occupational Therapists can provide equipment to promote independence and safety with tasks.
Depending on the area you live, this will be on loan from either Joint Loan Equipment Stores (Stirling and Falkirk Council area) or Clackmannanshire Equipment Stores (Clackmannanshire Council area).
When the equipment is no longer required, please contact the stores on the following phone numbers to arrange for uplift.
- Joint Loan Equipment Stores on 01324 508760
- Clackmannanshire Equipment Stores on 01259 452288
- Returning Walking Aids | NHS Forth Valley
Referrals to Other Services
The Rheumatology Occupational Therapist will regularly refer to the Community Occupational Therapist in the local Social Work Department, or to other Allied Health Professional colleagues in Physiotherapy, Podiatry and Orthotics.
For further information on Occupational Therapy, please visit
- Royal College of Occupational Therapists
- Versus Arthritis
- NRAS | Rheumatoid arthritis charity
- NHS Inform
- New2RA | NRAS
- New2RA Right Start Service | NRAS
- SMILE-RA | NRAS
- Community Falls Management & Prevention | NHS Forth Valley
- Physical Activity | NHS Forth Valley
- Arthur’s Place – information for young adults with Arthritis
- Parenting with arthritis: Joel’s experience and tips as a young father with arthritis | Versus Arthritis
- Tips for parents | NRAS
- Gardening and arthritis | Versus Arthritis
- Eating well with arthritis | Versus Arthritis
- Footcare and footwear | Versus Arthritis
- Pregnancy and arthritis | Versus Arthritis
- Keep moving (exercises for arthritis) | Versus Arthritis
- Top 10 tips for travelling with RA | NRAS
- Driving and arthritis | Versus Arthritis
- Flippin’ Pain | Information to change the way we think about, talk about and treat persistent pain
If you are under the care of the Forth Valley Rheumatology team and you wish to make an enquiry, please email the Rheumatology Occupational Therapy service at: fv.rheumOT@nhs.scot
Please note we can only assist with OT queries related to those people under the care of Rheumatology. If you are not under the care of Rheumatology, please consider contacting your local Occupational Therapy team within the Social Work Department.
With acknowledgement to NHS Lanarkshire Rheumatology Occupational Therapy service for sharing information from their website.