Occupational Therapy Week – Meet Courtney

Posted: 04/11/21

“I’m a Clinical Lead Occupational Therapist for North Cumbria Inpatients based at the Carleton Clinic in Carlisle.
Our inpatient services include acute admissions, functional older adult, dementia and learning disability. I have been seconded to Ruskin, our dementia unit, where I am enjoying applying my skills to a new area of practice, to support those with a dementia diagnosis to maintain their skill level.

I find my role very diverse and no two days are ever the same. My operational days involve me supporting the occupational therapists (OTs), which includes facilitating supervision, linking in with voluntary services, supporting student allocations, developing the OT service, and supporting wider service development and recruitment.
I also have the opportunity to work alongside the other Clinical Lead OTs across the Trust.

On Ruskin my day is varied. I support patients with self-care and facilitate home leave to assess people within their own home to see whether it is safe for them to return home and what care they may require when they do. I also engage patients in meaningful, therapeutic activities. For positive and safe care and treatment, joint working is essential, therefore I work closely with nurses, healthcare assistants, psychologists, pharmacists, social workers, dieticians and medical staff.

I also enjoy having students for their practice placements and visiting the local university to give presentations, as I always find these opportunities develop my own learning and knowledge further too.
I have only been the Clinical Lead OT since September this year, however I have been working within the inpatient units since I qualified in 2014.

I went to university straight from sixth form when I was 18 and I qualified as an Occupational Therapist in 2014, having completed a BSc Occupational Therapy course at York St John University. Knowing I wanted to work in mental health, my first post was as an Activities Facilitator, before moving to become an OT.

To be honest I was never 100% sure what I wanted to be. At one point I wanted to be an accountant and even did my year 10 work experience at an accountancy firm, however I have never been that good at maths. I then realised I wanted to go into the health sector and considered applying for a Physiotherapy degree and a teacher asked me if I had heard of OT. Following this I looked around several universities and still not knowing what I wanted to be applied for a mixture of Physio and OT university courses.

At university, my first placement was in an equipment and adaptation service and although this was interesting, the lengthy process and not seeing patients on a regular basis was the downside for me. My second placement was in a Medium Secure Forensic setting and it was during this that I realised that I wanted to work in Mental Health. Providing OT assessment and interventions to patients who had become institutionalised and been in services for 20 + years, to develop and maintain skills, was very rewarding.

The best part of the job is helping individuals achieve their goals, develop new skills and enabling them to achieve their full potential. I enjoy supporting individuals overcome barriers preventing them from doing the occupations that matter to them, which increases people’s independence and satisfaction in all aspects of life.

An occupational therapist’s job role is to help individuals of all ages overcome the effects of disability caused by illness, ageing or accident so that they can carry out everyday tasks or occupations, viewing the patient holistically. As well as this, I enjoy supporting and developing our OT service and colleagues.”