Self assessment toolkit for occupational therapists and managers to audit practice
       against recommendations in “Occupational therapy and people with learning
                      disabilities –findings from a research study”

   This tool devised by the College of Occupational Therapists and the COT Specialist Section- People with Learning Disabilities is designed
   to help individuals, managers and services audit how they are progressing against the recommendations in “Occupational therapy and
   people with learning disabilities –findings from a research study” (Lillywhite and Haines 2010). It uses a colour coded self rating system
   and can be completed either by an individual practitioner to monitor their own progress or by a whole team to monitor overall progress.
   The recommendations are listed on the left with columns to indicate who the lead contributor is, what evidence exists to support progress,
   the colour coded rating and an action plan if required.

   The colour coded rating system is as follows:
    Green: Achieved and monitoring in place to ensure continued achievement
    Yellow: 75% achievement
    Orange: Planning , preparing or initiated
    Red: Not achieved, no progress

Occupational therapists working in specialist learning disability teams need to:
                                                                                         Colour coded
     RECOMMENDATION                      LEAD CONTRIBUTOR   CURRENT POSITION &           rating -         ACTION PLAN AND TIME SCALE
                                                            EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT          Green, Yellow,
                                                                                         Orange, Red

1. Work in close liaison with people
with learning disabilities, support
workers and family members and
include them in all aspects of
occupational therapy intervention from
planning through to discharge. This
includes ensuring that
recommendations are achievable by
all the relevant people

2. Develop a close working
relationship with and provide
consultation to mainstream health and
social care occupational therapists to
facilitate people with learning
disabilities accessing their services.
This includes developing formal local
pathways or protocols setting out
respective responsibilities

3. Develop close working
relationships with children’s
occupational therapy services,
alongside other disciplines, to
facilitate a smooth transition for
children with learning disabilities to
adult services

4. Be confident and assertive and be
able to use occupational language
when appropriate and consider
developing marketing skills to sell
your service

5. Continue to provide thorough,
objective and independent
assessments of the impact of
someone’s learning disability on their
occupational performance

6. Promote the value of occupational
therapy with people with learning
disabilities by developing and using
measures that demonstrate the
outcomes of interventions

7. Clearly articulate that meeting the
needs of people with learning
disabilities often requires remaining
involved over a longer period of time
and that short periods of intervention
are often not sufficient to meet these

8. Develop evidence-based practice
guidance and/or pathways
demonstrating occupational therapy’s
contribution to meeting the needs of
particular groups of people with
learning disabilities, such as those on
the autistic spectrum, those with
dementia, those whose behaviour
challenges services and those with
profound and multiple disabilities

9. Take opportunities to be involved in
developing the evidence base by
undertaking research into
occupational therapy with people with
learning disabilities particularly in the
key areas listed in “Occupational
therapy and people with learning

10. Contribute to the development of
standardised assessments and
outcome measures

11. Offer more practice placements to
occupational therapy students to
ensure that as many as possible gain
experience of working with people
with learning disabilities during their
training. Consider offering teaching on
pre-registration occupational therapy
12. Ensure occupational therapy
representation on relevant learning
disability and professional specific
sub-groups and forums in employing

13. Access supervision from a
professional who has a higher level of
knowledge, skills and experience in
the same field of practice, whether
this be clinical, managerial,
educational or another type of work

Managers of occupational therapists working with people with learning disabilities need to:

1. Support occupational therapists’
practice, and continuing professional
development through the provision of
necessary time and resources to
implement these recommendations

2. Support occupational therapists to
undertake further research into
occupational therapy with people with
learning disabilities, as recommended

3. Consider how best to address the
shortage of occupational therapy
posts within learning disabilities teams


Lillywhite A, Haines D (2010) Occupational therapy and people with learning disabilities. Findings from a research study. London: COT. Available at

For further information about the COT Specialist Section –People with Learning Disabilities including how to become a member go to

March 2012.


To top