What’s your career background?
Well after quite a stint working as a creeler in a mill, I moved into sports therapy! This transitioned into beauty therapy, but after some time I felt like something was missing. I wanted a career that gave me the opportunity to give something back, which led me into the care sector and eventually, mental health care.
I enrolled in a rehabilitation foundation course as a starting point, and after a placement working in occupational therapy (OT), it just clicked, this is what I want to do! Though I’ve covered many aspects of care, I knew that OT was the strand I wanted to pursue.
I’ve been qualified in OT for nearly 10 years now, and most of this time was spent working for Cambian (specialist mental health division) where I became the national trainer and helped support the development of the next generation of occupational therapists.
And that brings me up to Active Pathways, I may have only been here since February 2021, but I’ve got a tonne of ideas and know that I’ll be given room to develop them.
What does a day in the life of a Lead Occupational Therapist and Occupational Therapist Team Leader look like?
I work across both the Leeds and Preston sites as part of the senior management team so much of my time will be invested in leading colleagues to be the best they can possibly be! Part of this is ensuring that training and development is a key priority for those who work for Active Pathways.
Working with residents is also a key part to my role, to best support service users I’ll be spending more time with them to understand what they really need. It becomes a bit of a problem-solving mission; I help them navigate the maze of life and other complexities. Active Pathways operates a recovery-centred model which I feel fits with my outlook and values. I’ll be making sure everyone has the support, information and resources to give service users the best experience throughout their recovery journey.
What’s been your highlight so far about working at Active Pathways?
It has to be the part where you make a connection with the service user which helps them develop. You’re an access point for that person, who may have no one else to talk to. This process helps the person discover new things about themselves, which builds bridges to skill development and gaining confidence. It’s such a crucial part of helping that person move on, and it’s incredibly rewarding being in a position where you can provide the support and education that tackles the issues they are facing.
Outside of the person-centred and facing side of the role, it’s been amazing to have my ideas received so well! I feel valued for those skills and experience I can bring to the role and am embracing the opportunity to break the traditional mindset of ‘we’ve always done it this way’. There’s a homely feel around Active Pathways and an inclusive working culture, which means everyone has a voice and gets heard. There’s a positive atmosphere around the place which is hard to describe – but, in short, we’re all working to the same goal, which naturally lends itself to a lovely working environment. It feels just like home.
Think about the future, what are your plans for the Leeds and Preston sites?
We’re going to be wonderful! I’ll be getting deeper into creating ‘one team’ and instilling that ethos into every new starter. There are all kinds of new developments in the occupational therapy world, so I’ll be making sure our OTs keep pushing boundaries and moving forward. And all this work with existing employees will help us attract and retain top talent in the future.
In terms of our service-users, we can see that accessing community opportunities is difficult and can lead to them feeling marginalised and excluded. We want to break down those barriers and help our residents to integrate into the local community. This will allow them to reach their full potential and feel accepted and happy.