From 2-8 November, Sue Ryder Neurological Care Centre The Chantry are celebrating National Occupational Therapy Week. Here, Occupational Therapy Lead Ashlie Meadows talks about her passion for the vital work they do and its importance in helping those with neurological conditions.
Celebrating vital work
This year's theme is 'Choose OT', with the aim to inspire people from different backgrounds to choose occupational therapy as a career path, while celebrating the crucial support occupational therapists provide. Occupational Therapy plays a vital role in supporting someone with a neurological condition through their recovery and to manage their specific health conditions, particularly those with an acquired brain injury from an accident or stroke.
Ashlie Meadows is the Occupational Therapy Lead at Sue Ryder Neurological Care Centre The Chantry and is passionate about the work that she does. The centre has a purpose-built neurological-rehabilitation facility that takes in people for treatment for between 6-12 weeks, depending on their individual situation.
Most people will come to the centre from hospital and are in real need of exactly the sort of specialist care that Ashlie and the team provides, even if for some it is a world away from the hospital ward they will have been used to:
“We are really lucky in that we have purpose-built facilities to help us deliver this tailored care. Everyone has their own room with wet room attached, so not only is there plenty of room to do washing and dressing assessments, there is the privacy to do this, something that a lot of the clients will not have had during their hospital stay.”
“My job is to help people along their journey of recovery, supporting them to be able to live their lives”
The job is a varied one, as everything Ashlie and the team do is tailored to suit each person’s specific needs:
“My job is to help people along their journey of recovery, supporting them to be able to do what they need to do, to be able to live their lives. Everyday tasks like making breakfast are often skills that our clients need help with. We had one gentleman who I would meet every morning and walk with him to our purpose-built rehab kitchen. I would be with him whilst he made his porridge, then we would go together to the dining room to eat. This is an activity many of us take for granted, but meant to so much to him.”
As well as helping people with practical day-to-day tasks there is a more ‘unseen’ but equally important side of to what Occupational Therapy can do, as Ashlie explains:
“What people often don’t realise is that cognitive rehabilitation is a large part of our job too. Some neurological conditions mean that people need support to work on things like their imagination or flexibility of thinking. An activity that I set for one client was to give them a set of written instructions to follow and make a series of letter and shapes out of salt dough.”
This sort of personalised care is only possible with dedicated time, something that Ashlie found lacking in her previous Occupational Therapy roles, and is one of the many things that attracted her to working at The Chantry in the first place:
“I liked the idea of being able to really get to know people and to make a long-lasting difference. I was also very aware from my previous job that there was a desperate need for the sort of specialist care the neuro-rehabilitation facility at The Chantry was providing.”
“The things we do in Occupational Therapy are what make all of us manage in everyday life”
The opportunity for learning and close collaboration with colleagues has been another highlight for Ashlie:
“Although I had some experience of working with neurological conditions I wouldn’t have considered myself a specialist when I arrived at the centre. However, I love learning new things and was delighted to find myself amongst a friendly and supportive multi-disciplinary team. We all learn and work together to ensure the best outcome for the clients.”
This strong teamwork has been particularly crucial over the past few months as the centre has pulled together to adapt their ways of working around coronavirus restrictions.
This National Occupational Therapy Week, Ashlie sums up what it is she loves about her job: “This is a really interesting job, and so important, because the sorts of things we do in Occupational Therapy are what make all of us manage in everyday life.”
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