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


An apprenticeship is a good way to start your career in healthcare.

Modern Apprenticeships 

A Modern Apprenticeship in Healthcare Support (clinical) is appropriate for people interested in working in healthcare.

Find out more about apprenticeships at apprenticeships.scot.

Work placement

If you’re at school or thinking of changing career, doing a work placement could help you when applying to college, university or for a job in healthcare. You’ll learn new skills, improve your knowledge and discover what it’s like to work in the health service. Find out how to apply for work experience with the NHS.

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 for people
  • communicating with people
  • 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.