We’re celebrating AHPs Day on Thursday 14 October. There are 14 allied health professions (AHPs) and these are the third largest clinical workforce in the NHS. AHPs Day is an annual opportunity to celebrate and showcase how they provide high-quality patient care. AHPs at our Trust include speech and language therapists, occupational therapists and physiotherapists.
Gabrielle Richards, Head of Inclusion, Recovery, Professional Head of Occupational Therapy and AHPs, said: “Today is national AHP day and it’s great to be able to highlight and promote the amazing work all the AHPs in our Trust do. I’ve worked in the Trust a long time and am always so impressed with the dedication and energy those AHPs bring to working alongside the people they care for”.
We have been interviewing some of our fantastic AHPs - read their stories here.
Dara is the lead SLT for older people's services at the Trust. She has worked here for three years and enjoys enabling people to communicate and more easily engage in the variety of activities on offer on the wards, such as talking therapies and groups. SLT is a small but important service within mental health, and the job is rewarding and varied. Aspects of the SLT role at our Trust include supporting communication for people with language, speech, voice or cognitive communication difficulties, and assessing and advising on safe eating, drinking and swallowing for people with dysphagia (swallowing difficulties). SLTs support with therapeutic activities such as reminiscence and conversation groups some wards, as well as providing training for staff on recognising and supporting people's communication or swallowing needs. Dara says “doing something very simple can make a massive difference to people's physical and mental wellbeing”.
Rachel is the occupational therapist on Johnson Ward, Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit, Ladywell, Lewisham. She started off on our Band 5 OT rotation and moved to a Band 6 role. She has worked at the Trust for three years and loves working on Johnson Ward. She says the best part of her job is seeing the patients leave completely different to the person they were when they were first admitted to the ward. Being part of the process which supports people’s recovery is so rewarding. Her days are full of one-to-one work and group work. The patients love the art, healthy eating and recovery focused groups, getting into the garden and using the outdoor gym equipment. Recently a patient wouldn’t leave until Rachel had come to work so he could say goodbye to her. This really shows the connection she had made!
Cilla has worked at the Trust for four years, starting off on the Band 5 rotation and then moving to a senior role in the older adults Southwark Community team. She really likes working with older adults trying to improve their quality of life, easing carer stress and supporting people to stay at home as long as possible. The work is varied - from doing duty shifts to triaging new referrals and making emergency visits. She is also the “Falls champion” for the team which involves assessing for adaptive equipment and risk of falls and recommending telecare solutions for people with dementia. Cilla enjoys the holistic approach working as an OT and looking at things in a different way. Her passion for working with older people really shows!
Jess is relatively new to the Trust having worked here only 10 months but she loves her job working as an OT in the Children and Adolescent Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). She loves the diversity of the work, the children, the team and the mix of different patients. She enjoys supporting them to develop their skills around self care, leisure and productivity. She also enjoys the challenge of overcoming the restrictions of the PICU to make new occupations in the limited environment. Her day is busy running groups, doing assessments, sensory profiles and writing ADL (activities of daily living) reports. One of her favourite groups that the young people like, is the sensory group where they are introduced to a range of different sensory experiences each week. When Jess speaks, you can hear she clearly loves her job!
Carole is a graduate of our Band 5 OT rotation scheme starting here is 2002. She worked elsewhere for a while and then returned to the Trust in 2012. She is currently the Clinical Lead Occupational Therapist in acute inpatient services in the Southwark Directorate. In her OT role, Carole loves the blend of clinical work and more leadership focused tasks alongside supporting OT staff to promote occupational participation in the most meaningful and recovery focussed ways possible for service users. She has always liked working in inpatient mental health settings and values working closely and collaboratively with staff and service users. Her role allows for lots of opportunities to be involved in service and quality improvement projects. A recent quality improvement project has been evaluating the impact of having inpatient peer support workers on the quality of care provided. There is literally never a boring day for Carole, and a typical one would be: working with her OT students on the clothing bank project, meeting her manager to develop some quality improvement surveys, supervising a staff member and writing and responded to numerous emails.
Nina has been working at the Trust for nearly three years coming from Kings College Hospital. She is based at the Bethlem Hospital and covers Croydon and Lewisham services. Her role as a dietitian is extensive and varied. She likes helping people with their dietary difficulties and working in mental health bridges the divide between physical difficulties and mental wellbeing. Patients can range from being underweight and malnourished and at risk of refeeding syndrome, through to being overweight with type 2 diabetes and risk of metabolic syndrome. Multidisciplinary working is crucial and she not only works with the medical and nursing teams but Occupational Therapy and Speech and Language Therapy colleagues. Nina always wanted to work with people and had an interest in food so this job combines both those passions. She says building relationships and seeing long-term changes in people makes the job worthwhile.
Emily started at the Trust in May 2020 last year so has had quite a different experience of starting a new post during COVID. She is a Clinical Specialist Physiotherapist and works in the Functional Neurological Disorders Service. She has a wealth of experience having come from Kings College Hospital where she worked with neurological conditions for many years. Coming to the Trust has given her change, challenge and the ability to develop her specialism. She oversees the physiotherapy service in the FND (Functional Neurological Service) and the Lishman Unit. No day is the same. She works closely with the MDT, provides supervision, teaching and face to face and virtual clinical work and is involved in research. She advises across King's Health Partners (KHP) and is a resource providing consultation and teaching sessions to the MDT and teams across KHP. As a physiotherapist working in a mental health setting she loves the fact the work is not protocol driven, she can think laterally with treatment approaches being different and varied.
Peter is the Head Occupational Therapist who manages the Bethlem OT department. Peter has been with the Trust nearly 33 years and has worked in many settings: acute wards, eating disorders, neuropsychiatry, health care workers unit and self-harm services before settling into the role as Head OT at Bethlem, a role he has had for many years. Peter says he still loves coming into work every day and feels lucky to work in an environment that provides top class occupational therapy. The department has won national awards and still has the ability to innovate and introduce new things for the benefit of patients. Peter hadn’t expected to work in mental health when he started his OT training but seeing the complexity of the role he knew that working in mental health would be a rewarding way of interacting occupationally with people to bring the mind and body together. Having had his own health issues recently just reinforced his belief that AHPS play a fundamental role in supporting people live their lives. The human condition is complex and without AHPs many people would struggle to live a rewarding life. Knowing how important the roles that OT and AHP colleagues play, is what motivates him!
John started off on the Trust's Band 5 OT rotational scheme over 12 years ago. He has worked in a range of settings and types of jobs showing how a career can develop in one organisation. As a Band 5, he worked in inpatients, community and forensic personality disorders services. He moved to the Education and Training department and set up the first administration apprenticeship roles. John then went back to the forensic setting as a ward manager, did a stint in Guy and St Thomas’s homeless team, then head OT for Southwark and has now settled as a community service lead in Southwark. He really likes his current role where his OT skills enhance the operational leadership role. He likes the challenges it brings and the ability to making positive changes for patients as the services develop. Every day is different: from supervising and coaching staff to meetings to improve and develop our complex care services. John is keen not to lose sight of his OT clinical background so is hoping to have a small caseload and do some group work with service users going forward.
Omer has been working in the Trust as a music therapist for two years. As a music therapist he recognised people around him struggling with their mental health and saw that working as a music therapist could really help and support positive changes in people’s lives. He works in our Children and Adolescent services (CAMHS) with different teams across Lambeth and Lewisham. He brings his talent and musical skills to the role and enjoys working with young people who are all very different with a variety of backgrounds and needs, and takes every opportunity to use the medium of music to support their recovery.
Jo has worked at the Trust for 15 years. She works in Lambeth Hospital on the inpatient acute and intensive care wards. She enjoys working as a music therapist and works closely with her MDT team, particularly her arts psychotherapy and OT colleagues. Her work is quite structured with group work timetabled on the wards but has worked a lot with individuals during the pandemic. Jo was always drawn to working in mental health and using her musical creativity to involve patients who engaged in what she had to offer as a music therapist. Jo says “you never know what someone is going to bring to your day which will touch you emotionally as well as keep you on your toes!”. “Music therapy is a very powerful medium to make connections with and between people”.
Becca is an Art Therapist who works at Lambeth Hospital. She says it’s a great place to work and she has a friendly and supportive team. Her role covers two wards: one acute and one rehabilitation ward where she runs art therapy groups for patients. She had always worked with young people and adults with mental health difficulties and feels passionate about wanting to help and support people with mental health challenges. She did a Fine Arts degree and has worked as an Art and Textiles teacher in schools and youth clubs before training as an Art Therapist at Roehampton University. She knows the wards can be challenging environments but finds giving people choice to be involved in creative pursuits can have a calming and cathartic effect. Becca says art therapy is an important therapeutic intervention to help patients express very complex and confusing emotions and be an important tool for self-expression and expression of feeling.
Kate has worked in at the Trust for 25 years. She is based at the Bethlem OT department offering a range of groups including mindfulness, creative writing, storytelling and drama therapy sessions. An important part of Kate's role is the coordination of dramatherapy student placements and supervising students offering dramatherapy on various wards on site. Kate says that dramatherapy provides the opportunity to work with both the body and the mind and she enjoys working with people to achieve some internal peace to support their functioning when they may be struggling on other levels. Kate feels being part of a wider team alongside other AHPs brings recognition to her profession as a drama therapist and acknowledges how each profession has a unique contribution to make to people's mental health recovery.
Mary started working at the Trust in March 2020. She currently works at OPTIMA Mood Disorder Service, a specialist bipolar outpatient service. Her work there is really occupation-focussed and she likes “being able to meet people where they are at in their life, and alongside them identify their existing knowledge and skills, build on these, and work towards the life they want”. She also appreciates the scope for playfulness and humour working alongside people. The day-to-day work is varied: running psycho-education groups, one-to-one sessions focusing on practical management strategies, student supervision and running carers groups. Through using quality improvement methodology, Mary has recently developed an occupational therapy cognitive assessment pathway to assess changes in executive functioning and problem solving skills as a result of manic episodes. Going forward she will be exploring the impact of the pathway on cognition and occupational performance and hopefully doing some research.