Living Not Existing: Fred’s Story

In News and Updates by COT Editor6 Comments

This is Fred’s story. Fred is fictional but the contrast between transactional social care services and what can be achieved by occupational therapy led services is very real. We want everyone to have access to the highest quality, person centred social care.

In our film we meet Fred, who has recently been discharged from hospital having been admitted following a fall at home. We see the reality faced by too many frail older people who become dependent on services which are ‘done to them’ and how this can lead to social isolation and older people simply existing. In Contrast, we see how, through setting goals with his occupational therapist the provision of equipment such as a walking frame, carrying caddy and a kettle tipper, home adaptations and a period of intensive reablement support his need for intensive home care support falls away and he is able to really live healthily and independently.

This isn’t designed to be a training film or to tell you everything about what occupational therapists do, however, we hope it will show you how show how doing the right thing for individuals can actually reduce their need for expensive care long-term and to support the campaign.

To learn more about occupational therapists visit the Royal College’s website.

View the interactive version of the film (please note this is currently unavailable on iOS devices).

What the occupational therapist did for Fred

  • Talked to Fred to find out what he wanted and needed to be able to do
  • Assessed Fred making a cup of tea and moving about his home
  • Identified the barriers that were stopping Fred- his fear of having another fall, dizziness when standing and poor balance, difficulty walking and carrying objects, steps at the front door
  • Asked the GP to review Fred’s medication
  • Removed fall hazards in the home (eg rugs)
  • Advised on equipment that would help him – a kettle tipper, caddy for his walking frame
  • Organised hand rails for the front door
  • Arranged for Fred to attend a Strength and Balance class to learn exercises to practice at home
  • Supported Fred to budget his finances so he could afford a taxi to play cards each week at a local café

Root causes behind Fred’s difficulties.




Outcomes following occupational therapy.



What an occupational therapist can do for you

  • Talk to you and understand what matters to you
  • Help you to use your strengths and abilities to stay active in your everyday life
  • Teach strategies and techniques to manage your health. eg techniques to manage chronic pain or poor memory
  • Advise on adaptations and equipment in the home so you can still carry out normal activities of daily life
  • Advise family and friends on how to support you to live well

Download the cause and effect diagram.


  1. I agree, I am an occupational therapist myself, and I am experiencing increasing difficulties in daily living caused by conditions associated with aging

  2. This is wonderful. Seeing Fred’s life from both occupational and social perspective highlights how important it is for an older person to maintain some independence . It is horrific to watch a persons life shrink around them because of injury frightened to leave the house in case they fall again. I love the way the occupational therapist gave Fred not only quality of life but the confidence to live it.

  3. We have just had an in-service training using Fred’s case study as a discussion point and though we feel that this campaign is important and relevant, the video representation is somewhat divorced from reality. We as occupational therapists feel that the lack of attention to detail in the video representation is flawed ie the gentleman obviously did not require a zimmer frame and seating was not assessed, therefore he had not had a comprehensive and holistic assessment.

    1. Thanks for giving us your feedback on this point. We actually had the same thoughts as you when we reviewed the film in post-production, but unfortunately, it wasn’t feasible to reshoot the affected scenes at this point. It’s definitely something that we will bear in mind for any future filming that we do and we hope that it won’t hinder the general public’s understanding of the value of occupational therapy.

  4. Pingback: Putting prevention at the heart of care - Care Management Matters


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