Organised by the Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT), the theme of this year’s event was ‘securing the future of occupational therapy’.
Occupational therapists have been described as the health and care system’s ‘secret weapon’ and are the only registered profession qualified to work across mental and physical health in NHS and social care settings.
As part the week-long celebration of the profession, ULHT Communications Officer Barry Wood spent a day with the Pilgrim hospital OT team, to gain an insight into how they support our hospital patients. Here’s what he got up to…
‘My busy shift began with an 8.30am ‘board round’ up on ward 6B (care of the elderly). I was introduced to the enthusiastic OT Laura Rose, who explained that we would be meeting with the other members of the ward’s multidisciplinary team, to discuss the current patients on the ward, what care and treatment they would need and whether or not they were anywhere close to discharge home.
It was a fascinating half an hour, led by ward sister Becky Tomlin who spoke with authority about each patient’s needs and whether they would need OT support or input. At the end of the meeting Laura came away with her plan of attack for the day, which included three new patients to see, in addition to equipment to order and various families to liaise with and keep informed. It was certainly an eye-opener and good to see the level of commitment and knowledge about our patients that each staff member has.
Next it was off down to ward 5B to meet Senior OT Katie Pickwell. Katie was about to see her patient Joan Gorbutt, a 72-year-old from Gainsborough, who had been in hospital for a couple of weeks after recently having her right leg amputated. She was full of praise for the OT team, in particular the way they had supported her and got her ready to be discharged, making sure her flat was suitably equipped, in addition to ordering her a brand new wheelchair, which she was especially pleased with.
“They’ve been absolutely fantastic and supported me for when I go home,” said Joan. “They arranged for the team to go and assess my flat, to see what equipment was needed, so when I get home I’ll have a portable commode, raised toilet seat and bed guard to help me.
“They’ve gone over and above the call of duty and helped me to start a new life.”
After bidding farewell to the jovial Joan, it was time to catch up with community OT Alison Parker, who gets out and about in her trusty pool car called Tiny to see patients in their homes who are still accessing the OT service.
Unfortunately, the patient we were due to visit had cancelled earlier in the morning, but it was still a good opportunity to chat about her role and responsibilities.
Alison explained that the community team work closely with hospital staff to follow-up patients who have returned home, but also see patients to help prevent hospital admissions, as well as advising family members who may need access to individual support to help with the ongoing care of their loved ones.
Alison can see up to four patients a day, covering the entire county and can spend a lot of time on Lincolnshire’s roads travelling between appointments.
The afternoon saw me pop up to the ninth floor stroke unit, where the OT team see a lot of our patients, here I had a good chat with both Mandy Fitzsimmons (OT lead) and Senior Physio Fiona Irving, who told me how important a good close working relationship is between specialties to ensure a patients’ journey is as complete as possible.
As my shift was nearing its end, there was just time to sit down with OT Team Lead Edwell Munyonga, who was clearly bursting with pride, to hear about how his team support the orthopaedic and surgical wards at Pilgrim.
“Our role involves supporting people to live healthy and independent lives, helping patients to set goals and overcome any difficulties and challenges they may face,” explained Edwell.
“No one day is ever the same, one morning I could be going on a home visit, then completing a manual handling or mental capacity assessment.
“I love the team I work in, I have great colleagues here at Pilgrim and across the Trust and we work very closely with social care staff, physiotherapists, nurses and doctors.”
One thing was very clear, as I bid farewell to the Boston team at the end of #OTWeek2018. A patient’s journey can be extremely complex, with many health professionals often involved at one time or another. But if they come into contact with the Pilgrim OT team, they can be assured of a kind, caring and compassionate service, with their health, wellbeing and transition back to independence a foremost concern at all times.’
Keep up-to-date with the team’s activities by following them on Twitter @PilgrimOTDept