Return to practice for physiotherapists and occupational therapists
There are many reasons why a healthcare professional may not practise for a period of time, such as during parental leave, extended travel, caring responsibilities or illness. We believe it’s important that their skills and passion are not lost forever from the NHS.
That’s why we actively support individuals who wish to return to practice and any occupational therapist or physiotherapist who meets the inclusion criteria within the Leicestershire area will be considered for our return to practice pathway.
So if you have taken a break from your career as a physiotherapist or occupational therapist and are thinking of returning to practice in the NHS, UHL could be the perfect place to start.
What is ‘return to practice’?
The Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC) defines a returnee to practice as an individual who has been out of practice for more than two years and who will need to undertake a period of updating of skills and knowledge before they can be re-registered.
This updating will enable therapists who have left the profession to re-enter and regain their registration. The return to practice programme is supported by Health Education East Midlands and NHS organisations.
If an individual is required to undertake additional updating of skills and knowledge related to their professional scope of practice, the HCPC recommends the following minimum requirements:
- 0-2 years – no requirements
- 2-5 years – 30 days of updating their skills and knowledge
- 5 years or over – 60 days of updating their skills and knowledge
The term ‘skills and knowledge’ is not defined. The period of updating knowledge and skills can be made up of a combination of supervised practice, formal study or private study. Private study can only make up half of the updating period.
‘Supervised practice’ means practising under the supervision of a registered professional. The supervisor must:
- Be on the relevant part of the HCPC register
- Have been in regulated practice for at least the previous three years
- Not be subject to any fitness to practise proceedings or orders – i.e. they must not be cautioned, or subject to ‘conditions of practice’.
The HCPC has not set any detailed requirements for the level of supervision needed or tasks to be undertaken, and this needs to be negotiated before any supervised practice. During periods of supervised practice the returnee needs to be given the opportunity to work at a qualified level recognised by the HCPC for the relevant hours agreed by all parties (for example, working at a level equivalent to a therapy assistant will not allow the returnee to meet the HCPC’s required standards).
Supervision should only be within the supervisor’s own scope of practice. This is so that the supervisor can provide the relevant input and guidance and ensures that both the returnee and supervisor are practising safely. It will be the returnee’s responsibility to ensure they are competent within this scope of practice. If the supervisor believes the individual is not achieving the relevant agreed standards this must be raised as part of the supervision process. It is recommended that during the supervised practice period regular contact is maintained and the returnee is able to evidence they are working towards any agreed standards. It is the duty of any individual supervising the returnee to raise any concerns during the placement.
Your placement will be negotiated with the relevant practice learning lead and supervising therapist, taking into account:
- The expected student capacity of your placement request
- The length of time your placement is required
- Your time out of practice
- Your requested placement area
- The availability of a supervisor
- Disclosure and barring (DBS).
Our team of practice learning leads is responsible for approving requests for supervised practice and supporting you through the process.
Funding is available from Health Education East Midlands (HEEM) to help with expenses and course fees. However, the details can be subject to change so please contact us for up to date information:
- Occupational therapy: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Physiotherapy: email@example.com
- Health Education East Midlands, Paul Chapman: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also find out more at the HEEM website.
Applying for return to practice
If you’re considering applying to return to practice, you should first check the current guidance from the HCPC. Click here to access their documents.