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What rights do Occupational Therapists have?

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by Amanda2014, Jun 9, 2019.

  1. Amanda2014

    Amanda2014 Registered User

    Aug 30, 2017
    Hello there. I hope people do not mind me posting. It's a bit of a long post, so feel free to skip to the end for a brief summary! I just am a bit stressed at the moment by some occupational therapists. Here it is...

    My mother has dementia. It is early days though, so she lives on her own, has carers in 4 times a day, a pendant round her neck linked to a LifeLine telephone, and me dealing with things on a daily basis. She also has poor mobility and falls/slips off her chair a lot. Anyway, whenever she falls and a paramedic comes out to pick her up she ends up being referred to a Community Rehab centre, and it is the staff from here that I have a problem with.

    A few months ago an occupational therapist rang from there asking me for all my details - seriously, everything, including my date of birth, ethnicity, etc - all a bit strange, unnecessary and overly invasive, but I gave over these details thinking I was helping. Anyway, the lady came over and assessed my mother's house and made suggestions of how we could make it more safe, all of which we acted on. But she would not stop there, insisting that my mother was unsafe at home, even though we had done everything she wanted.
    Firstly, she paid a surprise visit to my mother, letting herself in using the keysafe code I had given her. While she was there, my mother could not find the door key on the inside of the door (it had been unwittingly moved by a carer), and this upset my mother. At the same time, a nosey neighbour stopped by to see what was going on. Instead of telephoning me or the carer, the occupational therapist borrowed £10 off this neighbour and went and got a key cut for my mother. I thought this was outrageous. I have no idea how many keys were actually cut and do not see what business it was of hers to be getting a key cut for my mother in the first place. I really felt she overstepped the mark. So, I phoned her supervisor and spoke to them and they were quite aggressive towards me, totally unsympathetic and unwilling to even speak to the OT. The OT persisted with her insistence that my mother needed to move out of her home, so she phoned my mother's social worker, who was great and told her very bluntly that she was overstepping the boundary and needed to stick to her own job and not that of a social worker. We never heard from her again.

    I telephoned the Community Rehab centre recently as we need an OT to come round and assess the home again for some equipment, but I told them we did not need them to visit as we were expecting an OT to visit from Social Services instead. So, I was horrified to discover that today they made a surprise visit to my mother again. This time they could not get in as I had changed the code. But the night call carer turned up and found an OT on my mother's doorstep and let her in. The OT told her that if they had not let her in they would have telephoned the police to be let in as they were worried about the safety of my mother. Fortunately, the carer stayed the entire time this possibly new lady was here, so nothing underhand could take place. But I am left feeling angry and scared for my mother.

    We have had visits recently from the paramedics and social services - all of whom are happy with how my mother is being cared for, so there is no need for an OT from the Rehab Centre to be getting involved, especially when we have one visiting from Social Services on Tuesday.

    I have lots of questions. Firstly, what rights does this OT actually have? Can she call the Police and ask them to barge into the house of a vulnerable old lady with dementia? She said she can as she was worried about my mother's safety. My mother slipped yesterday and had to be picked up by paramedics, which is what she said gave her grounds to be visiting in the first place, even though they were happy to leave my mother and she is visited 4 times a day by carers. Does she think she has the ability to tell if an elderly person is in danger more so than trained medical staff or those who work with my mother on a regular basis? Why would she not contact me or the carers beforehand to let us know she was turning up? Why act so underhanded? And is there really such a thing as an emergency OT who follows up on paramedic visits the day after, visiting elderly, vulnerable folk on their own at 8pm at night on a Sunday?!
    I have to wonder if it the same OT who got the key cut and whose actions saw a random neighbour of my mother's pestering me for £10 the next time I visited.

    I find it all vey strange. I feel like the Occupational Therapists from this particular facility are acting above the law. But is she actually able to do all of this? I don't know how to stop her. Phoning the supervisors did nothing. Can she actually get the Police out?

    I'm still a bit stressed thinking about it all. Any advice on where to go from here would be hugely appreciated. Thanks.
  2. marionq

    marionq Registered User

    Apr 24, 2013
    All sounds very unusual. I’m surprised her supervisors were not more helpful to you. At least social services are onside.
  3. nae sporran

    nae sporran Volunteer Host

    Oct 29, 2014
    That does seem very strange. It would be worth escalating the complaint to your local council or NHS trust, not sure who the OT works for, and maybe asking the Police for advice on keysafes.
  4. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    I`m not sure whether or not the OT should have borrowed money from a neighbour to get a key cut @Amanda2014 but it does sound as if it is thought your mother is more vulnerable than it seems especially if she has frequent falls.

    I was calling paramedics out frequently to help my husband when he fell. His Community Nurse and Social Worker both agreed the paramedics could not continue to provide this service and my husband was at risk. It was when we agreed residential care would be the best option to keep him safe.
  5. Jessbow

    Jessbow Registered User

    How often is she falling and the paramedics being called? I'd guess there is a trigger that involves the paramedics making a call to the other agencies. If they see someone keep falling I wonder if they are perceiving a reason.

    How far away are you geographically?
  6. Sirena

    Sirena Registered User

    Feb 27, 2018
    I agree it is probably the frequency of the falls which is triggering the concerns. But it does sound like they are overstepping the mark. I am amazed an OT is available so easily. When requested an OT visit to check all was safe in my mother's flat we waited weeks, I was told they are very pressed for time.
  7. Louise7

    Louise7 Registered User

    Mar 25, 2016
    It sounds odd to be borrowing money from a neighbour but getting the key cut is likely to be for safety reasons. Your Mum was locked in and couldn't find her key, and the other key was in the key safe. I can understand the OT not wanting to leave your Mum locked in her house with no way of escape as it wouldn't be safe for her.

    I've had quite a bit of contact with the community rehab team for Mum and they are separate from social services, who don't have their own OT team. It's likely that the OT who will be attending tomorrow will be from the community rehab team but the visit has been arranged by social services. The problem will be that if they have already assessed your Mum's home and provided all the adaptions they can, and your Mum is still falling, then she needs more than 4 carer visits a day to keep her safe. Although the paramedics have said they are happy with your Mum's care a decision with regards to what is in your Mum's best interests would be made by social services, with input from OT, and family (do you have health & welfare power of attorney?). It will be down to what is needed in order to keep your Mum safe. If she is frequently falling due to poor mobility then she is at risk of hurting herself, plus if she can't get up herself after a fall then that is a risk too. If this is happening regularly then the paramedics won't want to keep coming out - they'd expect something to be put in place to avoid the call outs.

    If an OT has been to see your Mum on a Sunday night following attendance by paramedics then they must have serious concerns about your Mum's safety - the safeguarding teams do work at weekends. The OT would be able to contact the police if they feared for your Mum's safety and couldn't get into the house. I think you'll just have to wait to see what the OT says tomorrow, as they'll then let social services know the outcome.
  8. Rosettastone57

    Rosettastone57 Registered User

    Oct 27, 2016
    In answer to your question about calling the police, yes she can call them out . These sort of calls where someone, not necessarily a health professional calls police because they are concerned for the welfare of someone inside a property is extremely common. In police slang they are called a collapse behind locked doors. Whether someone is collapsed or not.

    Under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 section 17 the police can enter property with force if necessary to protect life and limb. If police had attended the property they would have made an assessment along with what the occupational therapist was telling them about whether to enter the property and make sure someone inside was ok . If the OT was telling them about a high risk of falls and there was a vulnerable old lady inside, in fact the very words you have used, then they would probably have used their power accordingly.

    Sadly often these calls have resulted in police breaking in and finding someone has passed away inside.

    As other posters have said it is clearly the high falls risk that is concerning. My mother-in-law had the maximum amount of carer visits but being a high falls risk and having fallen three times in one day I'm afraid the only option in the end was residential care. You say it is early days for the dementia but she already has 4 calls a day?
  9. Countryboy

    Countryboy Registered User

    Mar 17, 2005
    Al I can say I received exceptional help & support from the Occupational Therapists from the Cornwall Partnership NHS Trust an OT was present at my first consultation in 1999 with the Consultant Psychiatrist at the clinic, she was also there a month later when I was given the diagnoses of Alzheimer’s I remember the OT words were “ what am I going to do with a 56 year old man “ so with the help and Excellent support of the Occupational Therapists I continued in my employment for a further 8 years until aged 65 they were supporting me through various conflicts and together we fought many hard long battles, mainly with employers, DVLA in order for me to continue working & driving this in the early stages meant monthly meeting with employers obviously after my retirement their supportive role eased off , I have the greatest admiration for the Occupational Therapists and all the Health Professionals.

  10. Palerider

    Palerider Registered User

    Aug 9, 2015
    North West
    Just to add that OT's if involved do have a legal 'duty of care'. May be better to meet with them and talk through both concerns ...just a thought
  11. Amanda2014

    Amanda2014 Registered User

    Aug 30, 2017
    Hello, thought I'd update everyone. And, thanks for all the replies, it has been quite interesting.

    To answer a few questions, my mother has 4 calls a day for her mobility, not the dementia.
    Also, the Social Services where I live DO have their own OT's, so they would not be coming from the community team tomorrow.

    I have spoken to her social worker today. She said that the OT would have the power to call the police out to enter the property, but seemed unclear what the grounds would be given how my mother had already been assessed by the paramedics the day before and had seen a number of carers since then. Plus, Social Services have an OT going round tomorrow. I would like to think the Police would call me first (I live half an hour away), so I could tell them my mother is hard of hearing and cannot mobilise, so will not answer the door anyway.

    Look, I'm not saying OT's aren't valuable, of course they are!, it's just that the ones from this particular centre do seem to be overstepping the mark. I've had social workers tell me they are acting outside their remit and my mother's main carer - who is amazing - tell me she has never known anything like this in all her years of caring. I know anyone reading this must assume that they would not be going round without just cause, but they really are! My mother is very well cared for and is already on Social Services' radar.

    I guess it is disappointing for me to know that anyone can barge into my mother's home unannounced at any time. It could be quite distressing for her. It was also odd that the OT said she wanted to get access to the property as she was worried my mother had fallen (?), but then when she got inside all she wanted to do was some mobility exercises and tell us the chair was too low...even though it had been assessed two weeks earlier as being jus the right height. All at 7.30pm on a Sunday night. I still think that's a bit odd, even if others do not.

    We are going to continue to find ways to avoid her slipping onto the floor - that's all we can do, keep trying new things. It is my mother's wishes to remain at home and I plan to support her in this for as long as possible.

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