Occupational therapists are experts in helping people to participate in the activities of daily life. Most have a university degree at the master’s level in occupational therapy. They must have completed at least 1,000 hours of fieldwork supervised by an experienced occupational therapist. To receive registration, they must complete a degree from an accredited university program that meets national standards, pass a national qualifying exam, and have professional liability insurance.

Only an occupational therapist registered with the College of Occupational Therapists of BC can call themselves an “occupational therapist” (OT) in B.C. To ensure timely and cost-effective services, assistants or support workers may be used but must be supervised by an occupational therapist. These assistants are not regulated or registered with the College of Occupational Therapists of BC.

What does an occupational therapist do?

Occupational therapists help people of all ages maintain, restore or enhance their quality of life. For example, they provide training and skill development to help young children improve eating or hand writing abilities. Occupational therapists also help adapt tasks and find equipment so people’s function is improved despite an injury, persistent condition, or aging. They can also recommend changes to your environment to improve accessibility and personal supports. Occupational therapists often work with family members and caregivers to help improve your participation. Some may also work with groups and communities in the role of researcher, educator, manager, consultant, advocate, and program planner.

How do occupational therapists keep their skills up to date?

Occupational therapists must renew their registration with the College of Occupational Therapists of BC every year. They must have practiced 600 hours in the previous three years or 1000 in the previous five years. They are expected to remain current in their profession through continued professional development, complete an annual competence review each year, and pass the continuing competence exam every six years.

What happens when I first visit an occupational therapist?

Together with your occupational therapist you explore why you cannot do what you want or need to do in your daily life. The occupational therapist will assess your occupational performance which is how you choose, organize, and effectively and safely perform your daily life activities. Afterwards, you and your occupational therapist develop a plan to maintain your performance, facilitate your recovery and overcome any barriers that prevent you from doing the activities that matter to you.

How can I find an occupational therapist?

You can find an occupational therapist by contacting your local health authority or using the Canadian Find an OT website. The College of Occupational Therapists of BC can also help and let you know if the occupational therapist meets the current qualifications to practice in BC.

How do I pay for an occupational therapist?

In British Columbia, the Medical Services Plan (MSP) covers occupational therapy if it is provided in hospitals, community health centres, home health services, some social agencies, or schools. You do not need a referral from your doctor to see an occupational therapist but this may be necessary if you apply for coverage under an extended health care plan. If in doubt, ask your occupational therapist. If you visit an occupational therapist in private practice you must pay them directly, although extended health insurance, WorkSafe BC, or ICBC may cover their services. Your occupational therapist may know about program-specific funding.

What if I have concerns about the care I received from an occupational therapist?

As a patient you have the right to expect a professional standard of care from your occupational therapist. If you think that has not happened, contact:

Registrar, College of Occupational Therapists of BC

250.386.6822 or toll free in BC 1.866.386.6822

Complaints must be received in writing and include your name, address, details about the event (date, time, place, and names of others involved). Please mail to:

Registrar, College of Occupational Therapists of BC

402-3795 Carey Road

Victoria, BC V8Z 6T8

Where can I find more information about occupational therapists?

Visit www.cotbc.org



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