The introduction and evaluation of an occupational therapy assistant practitioner


  • Susan Nancarrow PhD, BApp Sc(Pod), MAppSc (Research); Primary Care Research Coordinator. Hazel Mackey MA, PGCE, DipCOT; Occupational Therapy Service Manager.

Susan Nancarrow, Primary Care Research Coordinator, Trent RDSU, ICOSS Building, The University of Sheffield, 219 Portobello, Sheffield S1 4DP, UK. Email:


Background and Aim: This paper describes the introduction and evaluation of an extended role occupational therapy support worker, called an ‘occupational therapy assistant practitioner’.

Methods and Results: The evaluation took place within a single health care trust and involved focus groups with four groups of stakeholders: assistant practitioners; their supervisors; managers; and service users. The evaluation identified a lack of access to appropriate training; ambiguous supervision and accountability relationships; and a lack of a clear career direction for qualified occupational therapists, creating uncertainty about which aspects of their job they should be ‘giving away’.

Conclusions: There is a need to clarify career structures and accountability relationships between existing and new staff members and ensure that appropriate training is available to support staff in their new roles.