Occupational Therapy Week 2021: Truly person-centred neurological care that makes a big change

Kate, 34, is Senior Occupational Therapist at Sue Ryder Neurological Care Centre Lancashire. She joined Sue Ryder in March 2021, after her peers had recommended the service to her, due to its innovative approach to care. During Occupational Therapy Week 2021, Kate tells us what this celebration means to her, what she enjoys most about her role and what a typical day looks like.

Kate, Senior Occupational Therapist at Sue Ryder Neurological Care Centre Lancashire
Kate finds it very fulfilling “how big a change you can make in a short space of time.”

“I always wanted to help people”

Kate previously worked in the community in Manchester, and at a private practice with young people, but “always loved neuro and it was always what I wanted to do”. Even from a young age Kate says “it may sound cheesy, but I always wanted to help people.”

“I’d never heard of Occupational Therapists (OTs), but a friend started studying to qualify,” she explains, “and I liked that it was holistic, and incorporated aspects of physio, but also psychology and a real person-centred approach”. Being a successful OT means “you have to build relationships to get the best results. You can’t teach skills like that, you’re just born with them.”

Helping people to do things themselves

She also enjoys the steep learning curve that working with neurological conditions presents.

“I like how challenging the job is, the research changes all the time, and you have to adapt”. And she finds it incredibly fulfilling “how big a change you can make in a short space of time.”

So what does a typical day look like for an OT?

“I don’t want to bore you!” Kate jokes. “Of course, there are lots of meetings and paperwork, but the best part of the job is treating clients”. A key part of the role is helping with daily routines, but, crucially, she says “not doing things for people, but helping them to do it themselves.”

And every day is always different “because of the individual person and how their neurological problems have affected them.”

Sue Ryder Neurological Care Centre Lancashire
Sue Ryder Neurological Care Centre Lancashire

Adapting to the pandemic

Asked about the challenges posed by Covid-19, Kate says that it “has been challenging for everyone in the healthcare sector” and that “PPE is difficult because patients can’t see your face!”

She also explains that rehab sessions have been difficult, as clients would often be taken out into the community to complete ‘multiple errands’ sessions where they would visit several shops or services in one trip, which haven’t been possible during recent lockdowns. However, the team have adapted and set up a fully functioning shop in the centre, staffed by their receptionists, to simulate this experience!

As a Senior OT, Kate has been responsible for setting up an upper limb rehab group, to provide more intensive sessions for certain patients, featuring lots of tasks to further improve motor skills. She is also responsible for the training and development of a wide range of Assistant Practitioners, developing their skills and knowledge to ensure patients are receiving the best treatment possible.

Working together to care for patients

What does Kate love most about her job? “How dynamic the team are,” she says, “and how much interaction and joint working there is between staff. You can’t work in silos anymore. If you don’t work together, the only person who loses out is the patient.”

And when this approach works “the smallest improvement makes you think ‘that’s why I do what I do!’”

Celebrating our work

Asked about what Occupational Therapy Week means to her, Kate replies that it’s so important because “people don’t know what we do.” Though she does mention she saw an OT on Neighbours the other day, “so maybe we’ve made some progress!”

Ultimately, she says, “OT Week is important to raise our profile, and inspire the next generation of OTs”. And sometimes she “can be so busy and tied up in work…it’s good to take a step back and celebrate ourselves.”

Occupational Therapy Week

This Occupational Therapy Week 2021, where we shine a light on the amazing work Occupational Therapists do for those most in need, the Royal College of Occupational Therapists are launching their new health equity campaign #OTsForEquity.

The hope is that this campaign will not only raise awareness of the crucial work Occupational Therapists do every day, but help to improve and firmly establish health equity for everyone, so that we can all access the care we need. 

They are also calling on healthcare leaders and decision makers across the country to develop a long-term strategy, involving more funding and resources for occupational therapists working on the frontline.

Find out more information about Sue Ryder Neurological Care Centre Lancashire, the expert neurological care they provide and ways you can help to support them.

Work with us

If Kate's story has inspired you to consider a career in neurological care with Sue Ryder, you can search our latest job opportunities. As part of our team, you'll be helping to provide expert care which enables people to live the best life they possibly can.