Occupational therapy support worker

Occupational therapy takes a whole-person approach to both mental and physical health wellbeing and enables people to achieve their full potential.

Occupational therapy support workers help occupational therapists to assess, diagnose and treat people in hospitals, clinics or in their own homes.

Starting your career

Choosing subjects at school

To become an occupational therapy support worker, you need a good standard of education. There are no entry requirements, but useful subjects include:

  • Science
  • English
  • Maths

Work placements and volunteering

You may find it helpful to get some experience of working in healthcare by doing a work placement. There may also be opportunities to volunteer. This could help you when applying to university, college or a new job with NHSScotland.


Foundation Apprenticeships

A Foundation Apprenticeship could give you the skills, knowledge and work experience you need to start your career journey as an occupational therapy support worker.

Learn more about the Foundation Apprenticeship in Social Services and Healthcare.

Modern Apprenticeships 

Begin or continue learning the skills, knowledge and work experience you need to become an occupational therapy support worker with a Modern Apprenticeship.

Find out about the Modern Apprenticeship in Healthcare Support.

All Healthcare Support modern apprentices study the three mandatory units of communication, health and safety, and learning development. For occupational therapy support worker, you will then choose your remaining units from the clinical pathway options.

The role

You will care for people with a range of physical, mental or social issues. As part of the occupational therapy team, you’ll provide practical support, so patients can continue doing day-to-day tasks and activities they enjoy.

As an occupational therapy support worker, you’ll work with people of all ages with a range of health conditions. For example:

  • people with dementia
  • stroke patients
  • the elderly
  • children with disabilities
  • patients recovering from major surgery

What you’ll do

Your main tasks include:

  • create a daily routine and help learn or re-learn skills
  • achieve goals
  • adjust their lifestyle
  • learn new ways of doing things and develop strategies
  • use mobility aids, adaptions or assistive technology

You’ll report back to the occupational therapist with the patient’s progress.

Top skills

You’ll need these skills:

  • caring
  • communication
  • listening
  • motivating people
  • problem-solving
  • relationship-building

Who you’ll work with

You could work with:

  • occupational therapists
  • nurses
  • social workers
  • occupational therapy assistant practitioners
  • physiotherapists

Working environment

You could work in:

  • hospitals
  • community clinics
  • health centres
  • residential or care homes

Useful information

To work as an occupational therapy support worker in NHSScotland, you’ll need to:

Did you know?

There are over 30,000 occupational therapy support workers in Scotland.

Learning and development

When joining the NHS, you will work through the Mandatory Induction Standards. These standards are designed to help you work safely and must be completed within the first 3 to 6 months of employment. They will also support you in your first steps as a new healthcare support worker.

You may also be encouraged when in the post to work towards further education qualifications. These may include:

Getting experience as a healthcare support worker can be very helpful if you decide you want to go to university to study to become a registered occupational therapist.

Learn more about becoming a healthcare support worker from NHS Education for Scotland's Healthcare Support Worker Careers Guidance leaflet