How Occupational Therapy helps young people with l

10 October 2016

By Liza Ives, occupational therapist technical instructor

I work as an Occupational Therapist Technical Instructor (TI), in the Adolescent Pathway, working with young males that have learning disabilities and autism.

I started my career as a Healthcare Assistant and while I loved working with patients, I wanted to build on the skills I’d learnt and be able to become more goal-orientated in my focus.

I’ve worked here for seven years as HCA and one as a TI. I've worked with so many amazing and knowledgeable people at St Andrew's and am learning new things all the time.

My role sees me support the young people with their social skills and interactions. A typical day could taking someone to a volunteer placement – perhaps working for a few hours at a food bank – feeding pet rabbits with the help of the young people, cooking meals or doing assessments to get a better understanding of a patient’s sensory needs and interests.

One of the challenges in my role is that if someone rings in sick and staff levels are under more pressure, a particular session might have to be cancelled, or substituted for something ward based. Sometimes that can cause a bit of disappointment!

I love seeing the difference I make, even though it can often be fractional. I run money management sessions to help the young people identify coins, count them, work out change etc. One week someone might not know their coins at all and a few weeks later they can name two of them. It can sometimes seem that you’re not making progress – but suddenly, you’re surprised by something.

Seeing patients recover is the most rewarding thing of all. There’s one person that I remember from my days as a Healthcare Assistant on one ward who was very unwell. He is now on the ward I support as a TI, and when I started I was amazed and delighted to see that he is now able to go into the community, has unescorted home visits and will hopefully be ready to leave St Andrew’s by the end of the year.

I'm really looking forward to the move to FitzRoy House next year. All the Occupational Therapists are really looking forward to the specialist sensory room, which is a really important part of how we work with young people to manage their thoughts and emotions.

The new room will bring us new equipment like interactive lighting and games, a balance board and swing which will make a big difference to our patients.

FitzRoy will bring us all together, which means our already strong team becomes even stronger!