Hello my name is Sue and I am a proud to be the occupational therapy professional lead at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust.
I have worked as an occupational therapist for over 30 years and most of my career has been at Airedale. I have been privileged to work in a variety of clinical areas including orthopaedics, medical, care of the elderly, neurology, paediatrics and community rehabilitation. I also worked for two years with Bradford Council as a specialist occupational therapist supporting young adults with a range of physical and learning difficulties making the transition from children to adult services. This gave me the opportunity to work in a different organisation with different structures and cultures. These opportunities have prepared me well for the role I have now as an operational manager in therapy services and OT professional lead.
The scope of occupational practice is vast and rewarding. Our training enables us to work within and across general medicine and mental health services and in variety of organisations in both the public, private and voluntary sectors. Occupation is fundamental to our lives. The activities that matter to us make us who we are. When we are no longer able to perform these at all or in the way in which we would like due health issues or injury we need to relearn and adapt. This is where we see the true value of occupational therapy. We enable people to make these adjustments be this physical, cognitive, social or environmental.
I now work in a management role and able to see how all grades of OT staff support our service users and each other. Our assistants are a great source of support for the whole team. They certainly helped me when I started my career. I learnt a lot from their skills and experience. New graduates share their knowledge on new models and approaches and are keen to share their observations and be involved in service improvements. Senior OTs develop their clinical leadership and people management skills, utilising these and their experience to continually improve the service.
Leadership and management can be considered two different entities but that doesn’t mean to say that you can’t have skills in both. I have worked with service managers who have been good managers as well as inspiring leaders. They also saw things in me (that I didn’t necessarily see in myself!) and nurtured me into leadership roles. We learn from our role models and I am fortunate to have some good ones to emulate and hope that I have been able to perpetuate some of their professional attributes. Trust, honesty and respect are important qualities for me and are the foundation of building good working relationships and enabling us to work collaboratively within a team, profession or organisation.
I am passionate about supporting and developing our occupational therapy staff as without them we don’t have a service and therefore cannot help people to reach their desired level of independence and life satisfaction. Providing a supportive and nurturing environment is crucial for our assistants to develop new skills, new graduates to gain confidence in their clinical skills and our experienced OT staff to want to continue to learn and develop. I am proud of the work our occupational therapy staff do in all clinical areas and what value they contribute to the patient’s journey.