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The wider lens of OT

11 July 2019

Emma Nicklin has started as CNWL’s Head of Profession for Occupational Therapy. She will provide professional and clinical leadership to our occupational therapy staff across all divisions and services.

“We currently have around 300 occupational therapists working in over 100 teams trust wide, probably more now Ealing and Whittington have joined us.”

Our OTs are spread roughly 50:50 between physical and mental health, and with so much good work happening Emma wants to see more of it highlighted for all staff in CNWL to see.

“Raising the profession’s profile” is a key priority for her. Emma comes from both a professional occupational therapy leadership background, and has extensive operational management experience. She is excited about the current healthcare drivers for integrated teams and enhanced community based care.  She feels that OTs have a lot to offer in this agenda due to their dual training in mental and physical health, and their “naturally holistic perspective.”

Historically the profession was linked with using activities to sooth the mind in ancient times, this moved into rigorous physical work and leisure, especially in hospitals and old institutions.  However, occupational therapy is actually central to recovery for all patients in all settings.  It can be misunderstood due to the variety of settings it covers.

Emma likes to think of it as the profession which helps people live their lives.

“Meaningful occupation is central to everyone’s life – routines, roles, interests, skills, ambitions and inspirations the things we do day to day are what give us meaning and purpose as humans – and occupational therapy facilitates that for people.  Helping people engage in activities that are meaningful to them; Occupational therapy provides this wider lens for every team’s work on recovery.” 

After her BSc in Occupational Therapy (Coventry University, 2000), a Masters in Advanced OT (2012), a PGcert in Strategic Leadership (2018), Emma is now part through a further Masters in Sensory Integration.

She has worked in many setting through her career – CAMHs, acute physical, elderly care, personality disorder services, forensic, rehabilitation and most recently as an Assistant Clinical Director at Barnet, Enfield and Haringey NHS Trust.

She’s been published in books about Personality Disorders, around engaging young people in services, and says that her work in these fields “helps you understand people, our personality is the way we approach the world around us and therefore it has importance for everything we do.”

She lives in Hertfordshire and is enjoying the changing outlook of her nine year old daughter; “a fascinating time we’re both enjoying!”

She’s started running and has joined a club, “I’m a beginner so just 10Ks at the moment but a marathon maybe? – though now I’ve said it, I’ll have to do it…”