A day in the life of an Occupational Therapist
A day in the life of a Housing Occupational Therapist in Adult Social Care
My name is Catherine O’Donnell, and I am one of five Housing Occupational Therapists working across Somerset. Let me take you through a typical day:
8.30am: Start working at home. Phone call from service user who has bid on properties and is facing eviction, so rather fraught. Look on Homefinder Somerset to see that they are top of the shortlist. Difficult as I don’t control the list, but, having developed a relationship with the service user, I see it as my job to try and navigate them through the process Sometimes, that’s just being a listening ear. Promise to phone housing association to check progress.
9.00am: Familiarise myself with government policy document on Housing for Older and Disabled People ahead of a meeting with the Council’s new enabling team later in the week. Hoping to try and push the case for creative approaches for some of my families whose housing is inadequate but for whom Homefinder Somerset (Choice Based Lettings) traditionally does not have the right accommodation. All Housing Occupational Therapists keep a register of involvements to evidence these needs, which has become essential with changes to building regulations.
9.35am: Try and reach Housing Association – leave a message. Quick bit of paperwork, including a summary letter to a client where the Disabled Facilities Grant has had to change and compromises have been made – not an easy letter, but essential to be clear about what can still be offered. Also include information on signposting to local hydrotherapy pool, as we could not meet the need for a bath and wet room in the home and this might be something the family want to explore privately.
10.00am: Demonstration at Somerset Independence Plus of the new Gerberit toilet. A chance to gain more knowledge of products and discuss a couple of cases with the Rep. Thinking of how the new Bluetooth voice activation might help a new spinal injury case I have just picked up – if such equipment is appropriate — as very little hand function.
11.15am: Quick case discussion with Grants colleagues to get advice on a complex extension where family want to help with the build. This is new territory for me, so I want to get some more facts before meeting the family and raising any expectations.
12.00pm: Work from home. Paperwork and emails, including advice to rehabilitation team and housing colleagues on how to progress their cases.
2.00pm: Joint visit with Housing Officer, as my case looks on paper like it might result in a conversation around rehousing – the property is under-occupied and landlord is unlikely to agree to major adaptations. However, in reality the adaptations are minor so achievable by another route. I drive away relieved that better function can be achieved without putting the family through greater upheaval.
2.45pm: Phone service user to ask if I can pop in and make a couple of calls/answer emails in the car before visiting.
3.00pm: Visit service user and explain why we are unable to proceed with a Disabled Facilities Grant in this instance, following a feasibility visit last week with stairlift company and technical officer. Service user is understandably frustrated at the thought of a move. Discussed this at some length. Leave with a list of actions to follow-up on to support moving this case forwards. My initial thoughts on the home had always been a move, but it has taken a great deal of time to get to this point of decision and acceptance for the service user. Feels a difficult outcome, as rehousing will not be quick either.
3.45pm: Back into the main office for the first time today. A couple of colleagues need to talk through complex cases, including an update on one for my meeting with the Enabling team, so this is helpful information.
4.10pm: Read through cases ahead of Extra Care Housing conference call I’m chairing tomorrow morning. Also get back to a Social Work colleague with advice on whether it is suitable to progress a particular applicant. Read through allocation cases for Disabled Facilities Grant meeting tomorrow, so that I have a clear idea of priority and can advocate for allocation if there is a waiting list. Last minute email to Housing Occupational Therapist colleague who is co-chairing the meeting to share my thoughts.
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.