“It’s not always an easy role, but I still find it immensely rewarding.”
My name is Catherine O’Donnell, and I am one of five Housing Occupational Therapists working across Somerset. I qualified in my early 30s and had my son just as I graduated so was really grateful to Somerset County Council for taking me on part-time as a newly qualified Occupational Therapist eight months later!
A secondment opportunity came up seven years ago to work as a Housing Occupational Therapist, and I jumped at it as I had always had an interest and passion for the housing side of the job. I previously covered the South Somerset area for five years and now cover closer to home in Taunton and West Somerset.
Housing Occupational Therapists work in partnership across housing and Adult Social Care, which makes the job varied and challenging. We largely take on complex housing adaptations and cases where alternative housing is the only option supporting people through these transitions.
What makes working in this area special?
The best part of my role is the variety and the large amounts of people contact. I firmly believe housing has a vital part to play in enabling people to maximise their function and live a fulfilled life – being a small part of helping them achieve this is special to me.
What is the most challenging part of your role?
The role is not without conflict. Sometimes, it’s challenging housing policies that don’t help clients progress, and sometimes, like my example day, it’s communicating difficult decisions and compromise positions to service users who have already made more compromises than most in their lives. It’s not always an easy role, but I still find it immensely rewarding.
What is your advice to those thinking of applying?
You’ll need detailed knowledge of housing legislation, Disabled Facilities Grants and, vitally, complex adaptation work. Great communication skills are key when working with such a wide range of people and organisations. The role is varied and challenging and requires someone with drive and passion.
Catherine O’Donnell, Housing Occupational Therapists
If you want to join Catherine, take a look at our current Occupational Therapy roles in Housing or contact Paulette Baker, our Principal Occupational Therapist on 07976 693 739.