Five Occupational Therapist locums tell us their career journeys!

By Aimee Hughes . 16/04/2024 · 12 Minute read

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A few of Your World’s dedicated Occupational Therapists have shared their stories of commitment, positive impact and personal achievement on their journeys so far:

1) Could you briefly introduce yourself and describe what your role/work placement entails as an Occupational Therapist with Your World?

Erika, Band 5: 

“I’ve been a qualified Occupational Therapist since November 2019. My current role with Your World is with NHS UHL at Ashton care home. It is a waiting ward but in a care home setting for patients who are medically fit for discharge, so they no longer need to be in a hospital and have a plan set for discharge but cannot follow that plan. We review them when they arrive, and, most of the time, we can improve their independence by working with them and their family to build individual goals and improve their discharge plan.”

 Chris, Band 7:

 “At the moment, I’m a locum OT working in an Intermediate Care Rehabilitation setting. I’ve been an OT since 2013 and have completed rotations in areas such as care of the elderly, orthopaedics, oncology, acute respiratory, stroke and A&E.”

 Rehema, Band 5:

 “I am a band 5 Occupational Therapist currently working within West London Mental Health Trust through Your World. My role involves working within a team to provide client-centred care to service users in line with registrations and governing bodies. This includes assessments, treatment and discharge planning, group and individual sessions.”

 Leslie, Band 7:

 “I’m an experienced OT with many years of experience in both specialist and general, acute, rehab, and community.” 

Helena, Band 6 

“I am an Occupational Therapist and qualified in 2004. My main experience has been in Community Therapy. I enjoy visiting people in their own homes and helping them to regain independence through rehabilitation, goal planning and equipment provision.” 

2) What inspired you to pursue a career in Occupational Therapy, and how has your career progressed?

E: “Both of my parents were mental health nurses; I have always had my mind set on a medical career. After work experience at my father’s place of work, I came across an Occupational Therapist, and the rest is history! I qualified just before COVID-19 and started out working as bank staff. Unfortunately, when I landed this role, I was risk assessed not be able to work safely in that area. Luckily, I found another area where I could work safely and completed 5 months working in the community before landing a locum job role for Birmingham County Council, again in the community, assessing for minor and major adaptations.

Returning to work in mental health after maternity leave, I faced challenges with long COVID that led to extended sick leave. When I was ready, I reached out to Your World, who dedicated time to finding a role that matched my expertise and accommodated my recovery needs. They secured a position that became my favourite, allowing me to enhance my Occupational Therapy skills and enjoy an extended contract due to my passion for the job.”

C: “I chose to become an OT after doing Camp America and working at a camp for adults and children with disabilities. I met an OT at the camp and thought the role sounded interesting and rewarding.” 

R: “When I was preparing to go to university, one of my family members was receiving support from an OT, so I became aware of the profession. Following this, I completed my research around OT and realised it was my career path.” 

L: “I was inspired by the flexibility of occupational therapy as a career and the diversity of the profession. Your World has helped me find posts in rural locations I want to try living in and with good pay rates.”

H: “Before qualifying as an Occupational Therapist, I worked in an acute hospital as a Health Care Assistant. I was often told by the patients that I had a calming way and was a good listener.”

3) Can you describe a typical day for you as an Occupational Therapist? What are some of the challenges and rewards you have encountered?

E: “A typical day starts by screening new patients and listing priorities with our small therapy team. We distribute the jobs, assess the new patients, and work with our current patients to achieve their goals. We are about to start doing regular group work ranging from physical activity to creative work to help engage our patients at different ability levels. Some of the challenges I have encountered are when the more senior therapists have been unable to work, and I have been the most senior staff member with only two other therapy support workers to help. This meant I had to delegate tasks appropriately by priority and work efficiently to make sure the most important tasks were taken care of. This has helped me work towards becoming a band 6.” 

C: “A typical day would involve attending an MDT meeting in the morning to discuss patients, planning my assessments for the day, carrying out functional assessments with patients (washing and dressing assessments/kitchen assessments), assessing a patient's home environment, assessing for and providing specialist equipment, planning discharges and completing follow up referrals for when patients leave the Intermediate Care setting.” 

R: “A typical day as an OT for me currently includes running group and one-to-one sessions with patients both on and off the ward, completing activities of daily living (ADL) assessments and attending meetings.”

L: “I start my day by checking emails and my diary, prioritising my caseload and communicating with my colleagues. I enjoy keeping up to date with my skills and building on them to ensure my knowledge is the best it can be and my patients get the most successful outcome possible.” 

H: “The challenges I have encountered in my role as an Occupational Therapist are that every day is different, the expectations from patients and their families are greater than before, often with service demands that place more daily pressure. However, the job is rewarding when your patient or family are happy with the work you have done, and you receive an accolade. It gives me job satisfaction to know I’m helping people every day.”

4) This year’s Occupational Therapy Month theme is Advancing Health, Well-Being & Quality of Life. Could you share an experience where you felt your work positively impacted a patient’s life? 

E: “In our care home, patients diagnosed with advanced dementia often stabilise and settle after transferring due to having private rooms, unlike a hospital ward. Some patients, however, do decline and are unable to return to their former cognitive state. After one such patient's condition worsened, despite our comforting efforts, we had to have a tough discussion with their next of kin. It led to the decision of the patient to come back to the care home after returning home with a care package, which proved insufficient due to patient aggression. With agreement from the patient's next of kin, the patient transitioned well into a suitable facility supporting the patient and the family. Even though we hope to promote independence, these situations highlight the importance of having realistic, challenging conversations to ensure appropriate discharge plans and reduce readmission risks.”

C: “I recently discharged a lady back home who had a knee replacement and required a period of rehabilitation. Before this, she was bed-bound at home and felt she had a poor quality of life. I provided a specialist bed, armchair and commode so carers could assist her out of bed, and she was noticeably brighter in mood and more optimistic for the future!”

R: “During my last placement, also in the mental health sector, I had the privilege of working alongside a re-ablement team to provide one of the patients on my small caseload at the time with the opportunity to gain a role as an OT. I completed the entire process with him and supported him through all the steps involved in getting a job, from CV production to making his way to the interview. He got the job in the end and was very grateful for my support. It was really nice to see their progress.”

L: “I have many years of experience within my profession, but in terms of my recent years with Your World, I assist people in living in their own homes by setting realistic goals and expectations to make them achievable. Assisting people live the life they wish to is always my goal; the trick is to keep things realistic in a compassionate manner.”

H: “Occupational Therapists often go the extra mile in caring for and supporting patients and their families to ensure a positive change in their circumstances. For example, I have taken extra time to work with a patient to help them achieve getting on/off the bed through specific techniques and practice until they can do it totally independently.”

5) Occupational Therapy Month is a time for raising awareness and celebrating achievements. How can we further enhance the visibility and understanding of Occupational Therapy? What future developments or goals do you envision for Occupational Therapy advancing a patient's health, well-being & quality of life?

E: “Working in different areas has made me realise that a lot of medical professionals do not know what Occupational Therapists do or can do, but when I have worked in multi-disciplinary teams, I have made sure they have a better understanding and insight into OT, which in turn benefits the patient. I have had a few different experiences in different areas and noticed this recurring issue. Until occupational therapy is better known, patients will be disadvantaged because they will not benefit from an OT. I have been lucky to see what the knowledge of an OT can provide: increasing and improving the quality of care for all our patients.”

C: “OT is a misunderstood and often overlooked profession. Despite this, we are vital members of the MDT, and hospitals and care facilities would not function without us. OTs must make our voices heard on social media and proudly promote our profession. We also need to remember our core roles/identities and be strong advocates for the patient when others often write them off.”

R: “I think it would be beneficial to start getting into more secondary schools and colleges, spreading awareness about OT, and reaching out to the younger generations, as most of them will be entering the season of deciding on university courses. From my experience, occupational therapy wasn’t/isn’t presented as an option, and so many who may want to aren’t entering the profession.”

L: “We can continue to help people remain living within their community and home and assist them by setting realistic goals and expectations, listening to them, and breaking their goals down into realistic and achievable pieces. These are the basic skills of an Occupational Therapist.”

H: “Through promoting the service to help patients and their families, the public will learn what Occupational Therapy is and how its focus can make positive changes to a person’s life. It is key to provide opportunities to ensure everyone has a greater understanding of the OT role.”


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