What being an Occupational Therapist means to me

As part of Occupational Therapy Week 2017, we have been asking some of our 167 occupational therapy staff what being an OT means to them.

These are the words of Angela Scanlan, a Senior Occupational Therapist within our Men’s Mental Health service.

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I am an occupational therapist and today I…

“My job - working within a locked rehab ward with men aged between 38 to 94 years - is very varied, and it can be fun, challenging, tiring and rewarding!

“In the morning, I may take a patient to the shops and help them cope with their anxiety and road safety, while encouraging them to enjoy shopping and spend within their budget. I will support and encourage them to interact with members of shop staff, rather than be passive and look to me to complete their transactions.

“At midday I could complete a lunch cook session. I will grade the activity so that although the patient’s dementia and cognitive decline prevents them from independently completing this, we maintain their current skills so that they still can participate and experience success, while eating something they choose and like.

“In the afternoon, I will often take a patient for a walk around the hospital grounds; some patients require a wheelchair, but then I will encourage them to walk a short distance when they are able, in order to maintain their mobility. I will help orientate them to time, place and season; tying in their interests of perhaps wildlife or gardening to make the trip more enjoyable.

“Finally with my technical instructor we may run a ward art group, completing autumnal activities for our front of ward (orientation) board; the mixed abilities of the group will mean that we will have chosen art tasks that can either be done very simply, in 1-2 steps (e.g. leaf rubbing) to more complex art, (e.g. letting a patient draw free hand and with paints, using photos of the tress within the grounds). Notes and assessments have to be completed after our interventions to inform our practice and to ensure what we are doing with the patients is effective and meaningful.”

What does Occupational Therapy mean to me?

“To me, as well as helping people to reach their potential and achieve goals in areas that are meaningful, OTs can also offer opportunities for people to gain important life roles. For example I have assisted patients in being an animal carer with therapy rabbits and Pets as Therapy (PAT) dogs; volunteering – gaining vocational skills, and learning to become a musician or an artist. 

"We can assist with community integration; helping patients manage their symptoms while enjoying the community facilities; or we can offer health  promotion, e.g. getting my patients to engage in activity or sport, asking them to make healthier life style choices when shopping and teaching them new recipes when cooking. OTs can help patients learn, or develop, social skills, working with them on an individual basis and/or within small groups, to be effective with others.

"We can help people in their recovery journey to regain their sense of self and to work towards getting to where they want to be.”

Join in the conversation on social media using #OTWeek2017 - be loud and proud about Occupational Therapy.

Read more: What being an OT means to me – Bethan Ward