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Bevan Exemplar Cohort 6 Projects

Recovery Through Activity: An Online Occupational Therapy Intervention

Nicky Thomas

Hywel Dda University Health Board in partnership with Cardiff University

This unique all-Wales project is run by Hywel Dda University Health Board in collaboration with every health board across Wales.


Recovery through activity (RTA) is an occupational therapy group intervention usually facilitated on a face to face basis. The intervention introduces service users to a wide variety of activities available in their local community to enhance health and wellbeing.

The pandemic has promoted creativity in discovering virtual solutions to delivering interventions, and connecting individuals with online resources that they can access safely from home. Occupational Therapy leads across Wales, developed a standardised protocol for virtual delivery of RTA with an agreed set of evaluation tools. This would enable all health boards to compare outcomes and build a robust evidence base.

Project Aims:

  • To enlighten individuals on the benefit of activities for health and wellbeing
  • To provide an opportunity for individuals to explore/ try out new activities for health and wellbeing
  • To enlighten individuals on the benefit of activities for health and wellbeing
  • To create a virtual version of RTA that is accessible to all despite the Covid restrictions
  • To provide individuals with early access to Occupational Therapy input regardless of their condition or stage within their recovery process
  • To develop an evidence based Occupational Therapy group intervention which could be facilitated centrally to cover a wide geographical area.
  • To raise awareness of online resources available to support individuals to carry out meaningful activities and provide opportunities for individuals to connect with others
  • To have a standardised protocol with nationally agreed outcome measures for delivery of RTA across Wales with the opportunity to build an evidence base for RTA group interventions
  • Improve number of referrals to Occupational therapy from other members of the multidisciplinary team by developing a website and downloadable materials.
  • RTA strengthens joint working between statutory and third sector services making the best use of community resources and ensuring that people can access the right support at the right time, a key element of prudent healthcare


  • Technology barriers – including Internet Connectivity, Finding suitable venues for staff to comply with covid, confidentiality, and ergonomics whilst facilitating the group, identifying an appropriate online platform that complied with confidentiality guidance and confidence of staff and participants using the technology. The latter was resolved by arranging in service training sessions with staff, and offering one to one sessions for participants.
  • Complying with information governance guidelines across health boards – this was overcome by liaising with Information Governance teams in each health board.
  • Sourcing funding for one of the key outcome measures – which was overcome through good communication with operational managers
  • Lack of funding for developing a website

Key Outcomes:

  • Developing a virtual RTA course provides individuals with a choice of intervention methods i.e face to face or virtual, 1:1 or group work; and is therefore more client-centred
  • Improved accessibility to those earlier on in their recovery journey who may not feel ready to attend a face to face group
  • Introducing individuals to online resources that they can engage in within their own time, which has been particularly important during the pandemic
  • Using an agreed protocol and outcome measures enables the health boards across wales to produce a robust data set of outcomes that are comparable
  • More sustainable delivery model as can be delivered centrally across a wide geographical area
  • Enabled staff to build their technology skills within a short timeframe and put these skills into practice
  • Improved understanding of the value of meaningful occupation across multidisciplinary professionals and increased referral rates to occupational therapy.
  • Provided opportunities for occupational therapy staff to work collaboratively on an all-Wales basis.

Next Steps:

We aim to roll out the virtual RTA programme across mental health and learning disability services throughout Wales.

We will work with Cardiff University to analyse the qualitative and quantitative data to evaluate RTA and improve occupational therapy interventions, sharing the evidence from RTA interventions widely. This evidence base should enable us to influence the recruitment of additional Occupational Therapists within mental health to deliver RTA interventions.

We also hope to complete the RTA website to raise the profile of RTA across the multidisciplinary teams and improve accessibility to occupational therapy for all.

Our Exemplar Experience:

This experience has put occupational therapy on the map, provided excellent training opportunities and enabled us to work collaboratively across Wales.



Twitter: @Bentley4312