#OTweek15 Meet our OT Kirsty

Kirsty Franklin is a Specialist Occupational Therapist working within the Community Team, Palliative Care and in a community hospital. She has been an OT for seven years and here she explains how her patients constantly amaze her and how her job gives both her and her patients and enormous sense of achievement.

She explains:

“My usual working day starts with handover from the nursing or palliative team so I can prioritise my patients and decide who and when I need to see in the day. I assess and support palliative patients in their own homes and in Penrith Day Hospice and I also work from a Community Hospital where I assess, provide rehabilitation and help with discharge planning so that patients are able to return to their own homes properly supported and as safely as possible.

“I start my day at 8.30 or 9am and work until 4.30 or 5pm, but depending on demand, patient needs and circumstances I work later in to the evening to ensure my patients can manage safely or be supported adequately and appropriately in their own homes. When I visit people at home, I try to fit around their daily routine to ensure I support them properly with things like fatigue management, treatment regime and to try to incorporate family/carer involvement if this is appropriate.

“I will observe how the person manages with daily activities such as attending to personal care or preparing a meal and/or drink. From this assessment I discuss with each person and/or carer how this can be facilitated to reduce risks of falls, promote energy conservation and in some cases assist with managing manual handling techniques through provision of equipment and assistive devices.

“I work alongside my patients to formulate realistic goals that are of significance to them and their daily lives, promoting autonomy, independent function to their optimal level and importantly consideration to quality of life.

“I approach each person holistically and work extensively with families/carers and a multitude of professionals from Adult Social Care, GPs and District Nurses to MacMillan Nurses and Consultants within a large geographical area, which involves wide and regular communication, something which takes a large proportion of my working day. I offer a range of therapies incorporating practical solutions, equipment and rehabilitation calls to relaxation, anxiety management and sign-posting for further support.

“This variety in use of my skills developed over the past 20 years of working within a healthcare setting is an aspect of my job that I enjoy; there is never monotony or predictability in my role – certainly no two days are the same!

“The wide geography of my working district requires me to drive all over the county in sometimes quite inclement weather, throughout towns, uphill and down valley including very remote places – so my map reading skills are honed as sat navs do not always direct me properly! Interesting directions are often given such as “pass the grass triangle and over four cattle grids, then turn at the fallen wooden fence post”….this can certainly be a challenge especially in these lovely autumnal fogs we have experienced of late.

“But as a rule, I can honestly say I love my work because the relationships I build with my patients and families are inspiring, the way people cope and manage in quite extreme circumstances is amazing and being given the honour of involvement with supporting patients and their carers to achieve important goals improving their quality of life and enabling them to make memories/legacies through provision of advice, knowledge and equipment is very gratifying.

“The positivity from enabling people and their families is so rewarding and assisting people to remain in their own homes supported safely if this is their wish, though challenging, gives a sense of achievement for all concerned.

“All aspects of my job require strong relationship building and cohesive working to ensure the goals identified are realistically achievable and sustainable.

“I am involved with a few different teams, but each are supportive and offer a great deal of knowledge and experience which can be shared.

“There is a great deal of paperwork to complete, which is time consuming, but it is required and ensures up to date knowledge is available for all community staff. Without it we would not be able to fulfil our roles – so sadly it has to be done!”