Supporting a returner

The College encourages services and practitioners to support those wishing to return to practice. Returners are a source of experience, motivated to learn and keen to get back into the workplace.

Being a supervisor for a returner is a good way to keep your own practice and professional reasoning skills up to date, as you are asked to explain, teach and supervise. You can reflect on and record the experience as a CPD activity.

The HCPC has some information and some requirements for the supervisor in the Returning to Practice brochure. This information sheet summarises similar information and provides further advice. 
Return to practice: advice for supervisors and managers [PDF]

Below are the things you need to consider when supporting a learner:

The status of the returner

The returner can be taken on under a volunteer’s agreement, an honorary (unpaid) contract, or perhaps with a short-term therapy assistant contract. In all circumstances, the host organisation has a duty of care for the returner and should provide insurance under its vicarious liability arrangements. You will also need to arrange induction training. In return, the returner should be expected to meet all the usual expectations for those working in the organisations’ premises.

Criminal record checks

The returner must have a criminal records check before they start their placement. This is usually done by the host organisation. If the returner is taken on as a volunteer there is no charge for the process.


Delegation of tasks

Although the returner cannot use the title or be employed as an occupational therapist until they are on the HCPC register, they can still carry out occupational therapy tasks that are delegated to them, as with a therapy assistant or student. As the supervisor, it is up to you to judge their level of capability and confidence. Do this through discussion and observation. Please see the College Code of ethics, sections 5.1 and 5.2. and the College briefing on delegation. If the returner has relatively little former experience, you may find it useful to use the College’s which identifies the profile of a graduate level entrant to the profession. Or the preceptorship framework which provides a structured way to support new graduates, ensuring that they have their basic core capabilities.


For help with developing and maintaining health supervision practices have a look at the Supervision Guidance for occupational therapists and their managers (PDF 1.16MB).

Signing the HCPC forms

The supervisor is required to sign the returner’s HCPC forms to confirm that, to the best of their knowledge, it is a true record. It is not signing to confirm that the returner is fit to practice. In the rare case where you consider that the returner is not fit to practise you should feed this back to the returner. If you are able and willing to help them to improve their capabilities, that is a service well done. If you consider that the returner actually poses a potential risk to the public, you should consider informing the HCPC.

Ideas for finding a supervised placement

For guidance with finding a supervised placement have a look at the Ideas for finding a placement information sheet. ​