Posted on: 7 October 2020

AHP Day falls on Wednesday 14 October. We caught up with some of our AHP staff to find out more about their role.

Becky Glassman was an Occupational Therapist before she even knew about the profession.

As a teenager she was working as a Healthcare Assistant in an older people’s nursing home and had introduced self-help techniques into her daily care routine of residents that she saw was encouraging them to take more pride in their appearance.

She didn’t know it at the time but this was classic Occupational Therapy.

“I worked in one nursing home which used old fashioned style nursing care so everything was regulated by time, meaning I had 15 minutes to wash and dress a resident and make their bed before taking them down for breakfast.

“It was almost production line care. I thought I could be more efficient by putting the resident I was working with in front of a bowl and mirror to give me more time to make the bed and help them get dressed. I noticed they became more interested in their appearance and would notice their incontinence so if they needed to go the toilet, they would ask to be taken.

“I was put in charge of activities because of this and went on a practical caring skills course where I met an OT. I explained how I work and she told me this was very similar to what an OT does to and what I had been doing was promoting independence. This is before I knew what about the profession so from then on I wanted to become an OT. It was a lightbulb moment for me as I realised I could become more efficient by supporting residents to work with me rather than by doing everything for them.”

Becky worked as a Healthcare Assistant for 13 years but after a long journey qualified as an OT in 2003, starting in Northamptonshire where she worked across community physical, traumatic brain injury, adult and older adult mental health wards, day hospital and community.

Becky is now the Professional Lead for Occupational Therapy in Milton Keynes, having previously been the OT Lead in the Campbell Centre. This is a new role in Milton Keynes and she started in June this year.

This is why today she’s keen to support AHP Day so people can understand the value of OTs and the wider AHP family.

The role of the OT is to support people to engage in the things that are most important to them including leisure activities that help to form their identity and sense of belonging.

They look at the impact of the illness in a person’s life, that person’s ability to engage in their community, they work with them to work out what a person’s goals are and work out how they can help them to overcome their difficulties, which might include making adaptations in their home environment, develop new skills and adapt the activity to improve participation.  

The evidence base is clear. Occupational Therapy works particularly when integrated with other services, though OTs are typically too self-effacing to bring attention to their work.

This is partly where Becky comes in now.

“I’m really passionate about Occupational Therapy and I put forward a case for this post to be developed four years ago because I see this role as making sure that OTs are always going to be part of future service developments and that there’s an always OT voice at senior management meetings. Before there wasn’t anyone there to promote and highlight the individual work that OTs do in services.

“I know the value that an OT can bring to different services and I’m just really keen to make sure that’s recognised. I also know the challenges I was up against and the support I’d have appreciated early in my career. I’m the voice I needed to hear then and I want people to know what a great career it can be.”

She adds: “ I am keen to explore how mental health and physical health services can work together and OT’s are in a prime position to do this as we are dual trained. It would also be nice to have a focus on preventative work and supporting our patients around self-management of their condition.”