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Do you have the passion and determination to make a difference in the lives of people with complex needs?
This week is National Occupational Therapy Week, an ideal opportunity to shine a light on the wonderful work done by OTs in our sector. Our in-house Occupational Therapist, Stephanie Nowell, is a key part of the MDT at Precious Homes and has a role that touches and improves the lives of many of the people we support.
Occupational therapy (OT) provides support to empower people to overcome barriers that prevent them from doing the activities (or occupations) that matter to them. By taking into account people’s abilities, needs and environment, we can offer support to increase people’s independence and quality of life.
As an OT, I offer practical and purposeful advice and support. I provide support around meaningful activities and motivation and this includes supporting people to do day-to-day tasks such as self-care, work or leisure. I complete various assessments, including sensory assessments, Occupational case formulations and Occupational screening tools to name a few and these help to build person-centered support plans and goal-focused interventions. I also complete environmental assessments for those I currently support and for some new individuals referred to Precious Homes.
At Precious Homes, we have an in-house Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) which is made up of a clinical director, Registered Learning Disabilities Nurse, Specialist Speech and Language Therapist, Sensory Integration Practitioner, Positive Behaviour Support Practitioners/Assistants and a Registered Mental Health Nurse, supported by consultant Psychologists. The OT role touches many of these other disciplines. The fact that we all work in-house means that we can collaborate effectively to provide holistic advice and interventions for the people we support.
I always knew that I wanted to work in health and social care and when exploring different career paths I came across OT. I liked the idea of being able to work across a variety of settings and the range of opportunities available within OT. I also worked within a community learning disability Team which included working with the OT’s; this inspired me to return to education to complete my OT degree. I have always been a practical person and this is important as an OT, to be able to motivate and support others to achieve their goals.
I love the fact that we can make a difference. As an OT, my role is to help people to achieve quality of life by learning new skills, increasing independence, focusing on social inclusion and ensuring supportive and safe environments. I love that i get to work directly and face to face with the people i support and the wider teams.
I really love going into an environment and looking at the various sensory, physical and social elements that could be adjusted to make life better – Is it too loud? Is it too bright? Is there enough Space? Are there aids that could help people to be more independent? It’s fantastic to know that my recommendations can make a meaningful difference and I go home each day with a huge sense of achievement, which is really fulfilling.
I used to work as an OT in a hospital, where I supported people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health. A large part of my role was about helping people to transition to a new home in the community and making sure the environment was right for meeting individual needs and that they had all they needed to transition successfully to their potentially forever home.
I decided I wanted to come at the OT role from another angle and work with people who are currently in the community to help prevent them from needing to go into a hospital setting. By ensuring we meet people’s needs in their own home, supported living, or residential service, we can avoid placement breakdowns, keep people out of hospital and help them to learn new skills, become more independent, integrate into the local community and have a good quality of life.
Ultimately, I chose to work with Precious, above any other provider, because their overall strategy is very close to my own values as an OT. The Strategy includes what we call Active Support and this is something I believe to be so important. It allows us to create an inclusive environment where people are empowered to be actively involved in their own support and have more control over their own lives.