‘8 weeks of equipment and adaptions... It's going to feel like a lifetime.’ - These were my initial thoughts when I found out my PP2 allocation. It was always going to be hard when I knew from the outset, that it's not a setting I wanted to work once qualified.
This however didn't mean it was not a great learning opportunity for me and over the 8 weeks, I did have the chance to learn more about how home adaptions work and how it can help people access their occupations.
It also gave me the chance to see the important role Occupational Therapists play in supporting older adults within nursing and care homes within the area - finance aside, the assessment skills of the Occupational Therapists were essential in providing individuals with the right seating options and equipment that they needed to live comfortable and as far as possible allow them to partake safely in daily life within the settings that they live.
One of my preconceptions of working in this setting was it is all about equipment and adaptions and although this was not all they did in their role; I still found this placement quite challenging especially in accepting the scope of practice for occupational therapists within this setting; having previously worked within health settings and from the theory we are learning at university - I'm used to treating and providing service to an individual in a more holistic manner aiming interventions towards both their physical and mental wellbeing (at least in some regards). I found accepting what we could provide from a social services front limiting - the key in social services is when needed to refer on to health based OTs for aspects that they weren’t able to provide. It was a steep learning curve! This aspect however allowed me to experience interagency working between Social Care and the NHS and how this could benefit the client and the importance of clear communication between agencies helps the client move between these different services.
There were aspects to the occupational therapists role in social service I did find rewarding and positive; for example there was more of an opportunity to build rapport with clients as there was not the same turn over of clients that you would see in an acute hospital setting; I was able to see how this rapport and relationship between client and therapist aided how comfortable a client felt during reviews and when having to make changes to equipment or if issues came up with adaption work. This aspect of time can also be seen as a rewarding aspect for the OT as they were able to see during equipment reviews how the equipment was helping the client to maintain and access their daily occupations (which is surely what we are all about as occupational therapists).
I also had the opportunity to see the role occupational therapists play within reablement services; which was a great experience and to me as a ‘baby OT’ still learning and developing, felt like ‘bread and butter OT’. I say this as it involved lots of activity analysis and appeared to be actively helping people do the ‘doing’ of life such as getting in and out the bath and making meals with the aim of reducing care support as the person became more independent with the tasks through grading and adapting the activities; but on reflection I know they are both using the core OT skills; just in different ways; I think I am more confortable with the aspect of restoring people to independence than accepting that decline is also an outcome of health and age. The role of OT within Social Services is crucial if as a country and society we want to enable people to stay in their own home longer and remain as independent as possible. And if equipment and adaption allows individuals with deteriorating health and mobility to do this; we need occupational therapists that are specialist in this area to use their knowledge and skills to provide the service in a cost effective and safe way,
8 weeks of equipment and adaptions… It was only enough time to scratch the surface; on the complex role occupational therapist within the setting, working as case mangers, assessors, home adaptors to name but a few; working with a huge array of individuals with varying degrees of illness, disability, disease and long term conditions; within a persons home environment.
The role of an occupational therapist is so varied and that's why I love it! There is such a mix of different settings to work in and clients to work with, how can it ever be boring! I'll admit I wasn't the most enthusiastic when I first heard of my PP2 placement, but working within a large team of Occupational Therapists, I was able to experience the passion they had for the clients they worked with and the varied role of an OT even within this setting. I could see the importance of supervision for all members of the team and how that impacted them as reflective practitioners and the service they provided.