This article was publish by Jen Gash, OT Coach on 12/4/19 https://otcoach.com/
I became an OT thanks to my son. Born with quad spastic cerebral palsy, OT was part of my family life from the word go. But not just for him, for me, my husband, my younger daughter and our extended families. Wheelchairs, hoists, toilet/shower chairs, wheelchair accessible vehicles, assisted technology etc are all we know!
On leaving a specialist college for students with disabilities he commented “I don’t want to come back and live at home”. To be fair we live in a very small village with no social life for a young man. So we pooled every last penny we had a brought a bungalow with the vision of renovating and letting rooms to young adults with disabilities. My husband and I designed the renovations and worked with tradesman of all kinds as well as the local authorities to get a DFG to do some of the alterations for accessible bathrooms and entrances. This was great! I was using my skills as an OT!
We also worked with the learning disability team to gain appropriate care packages to enable the Housemates to be supported 24 hours a day. During the renovations we advertised through our local learning disability team and were able to offer supported living to 4 adults (including my son). We were quite specific that all the tenants (we call them Housemates) and their families shared the same values, the main one being supported living. We were keen that all our Housemates would have active lives to include appropriate work and leisure.
In 2015 we won a local business award for Innovation and all attended a black tie dinner. Our Housemates loved it.
A year later we developed the garage to provide a more independent studio apartment for one more Housemate. Again I designed the wet room to ensure toilet, sink, shower, shower chair and rails were all accessible and in the right place for the new Housemate. We also considered any future Housemate that may occupy room.
18 months later each Housemate has a job/volunteering, weekly swimming/gym sessions, go to pubs, meet with friends, cook for each other daily and take part in the maintenance of the house. We are now looking for funding to buy 2 further houses to provide supported living for up to 6 more Housemates.
I yearn for independence and would like to become more involved as an OT in the business day to day supporting the Housemates to become as independent as possible and lead fulfilling lives.
Aside of my own business, I also gained a role emerging OT position at a nursing home. My main role is to provide an activity programme to a case load of around 48 residents (short and long term) who are aged 70+ with physical disabilities with associated dementia. I also support the physio and nursing staff with mobility reducing anxiety during one to one sessions.
During my OT Degree I loved group work. I also quite like being creative and so this job was perfect! We have religious services, exercise classes, art classes, discussion groups, taste testing and performances and I am always looking for suggestions for new activities. I used the COT Living Well in Care Homes Toolkit https://www.cot.co.uk/living-well-care-homes and Occupational Therapy Toolkit (2013) as my main resources.
I supervise 3 part time activities co-ordinators and a team of volunteers. Supervising staff and volunteers was not new to me but was new to me as an OT. During my first 6 months I have increased the activities by over 10%, established regular team meetings and weekly meetings with our in house physios, provided end of life support for patients and carers (this was a completely new experience for me). This OT role goes right back to the beginning when arts and craft were used therapy in Mental Health.
College of Occupational Therapy (2011) Living Well In Care Homes. Available at https://www.cot.co.uk/living well-care-homes (accessed 25/2/16)
Hall C A (2013) Occupational Therapy Toolkit.
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