I am an 8A Clinical Specialist Occupational Therapist working in the Stroke and Neuro Service. How did I get here?
When I was at high school, during the summer holidays, I volunteered on a playscheme for children with disabilities. I found it very rewarding and thought that I’d like a career that might involve something similar. The careers advisor suggested Occupational Therapy. I had no idea what Occupational Therapy was and when I investigated it, I discovered that it was a diverse and varied profession covering physical and mental health, both with adults and children. I discovered that the aim of Occupational Therapists is to support individuals to be as independent and safe as possible conducting all their everyday activities.
In 1990 I commenced my training at Liverpool University, and I qualified in 1993 with a BSc in Occupational Therapy. During my training and in my first two qualified posts I gained experience in acute hospital settings assessing and treating patients with general medical conditions, amputations and Stroke. My role involved supporting people to be able to get in and out of bed, wash and dress themselves, prepare themselves a hot drink and meal. Some people required teaching different techniques of moving and transferring themselves while others needed teaching how to use equipment that would help them to be independent and safe. Some people needed more cognitive support to process information, sequence tasks and be reminded what to do. My role was to promote independence and ensure safe discharge from hospital.
While I was a junior member of the team, I particularly enjoyed working with people who required and responded to rehabilitation and an opportunity to work on the Stroke Unit at Warrington Hospital became available at a Senior 2 level (Band 6). I have continued to work with Stroke Survivors and people with an Acquired Brain Injury and have progressed to a Clinical Specialist Level (Band 8A) in this speciality. I have enjoyed working closely with the physiotherapists, handling patients to facilitate more normal movement patterns and regain physical function for completing everyday tasks. I have enjoyed working with people whose cognition has been affected and I have attended courses to gain a better understanding of how best to support people with cognitive deficits to regain their skills or how they can compensate for reduced cognition.
My role now involves working in both the acute hospital setting and in the community as part of the Early Supported Discharge Service. I am still making sure that people are discharged home as safely as possible and I am working with them in their own homes to regain their function and independence where possible.
Treating patients is not all I have done or continue to do. I completed the clinical educator course early in my career and have passed on my skills and knowledge to many students and more junior members of the team. I have enjoyed teaching others and went on to complete a post graduate certificate in Teaching in clinical practice. I had the opportunity to teach on the Occupational Therapy course at Liverpool and although I enjoyed it, I feel I would miss the clinical practice and the rewards of changing people’s lives after Stroke or acquired brain injury.