OT Week: A day in the life of an Occupational Therapist

Here we meet Hannah from Carlisle who works with mental health patients as part of their recovery.

My name is Hannah Lurz, I am 27 years old and from Carlisle. I qualified as an OT two years ago and have been in my current role since January 2014.

I work on an inpatient mental health rehabilitation unit in Carlisle, Cumbria. This is a 10 bed unit for men with complex mental health needs, focusing on building and re-building the skills and confidence needed to live successfully in the community. We work with our clients for anything from 12 weeks up to 18 months.

Take us through a typical day.

My day can vary, I work some 9-5 days as well as shift work 7am-3pm or 1pm -9pm.  My role, working with other professionals and health care staff, is about helping our clients to lead the lives they want to live and follow their hopes and aspirations. My day starts with a brief meeting, talking to the previous shift's staff, discussing how each client has been. This is vital to understand any key issues and deliver high quality, consistent care. In a typical morning I can be supporting individuals through morning self-care routines, catching up with emails and attending regular review meetings to discuss client’s individual care and progress. We also hold a daily community meeting each morning, allowing our clients to discuss plans for the day, reflect on the previous day and share any other thoughts/concerns. As a rehabilitation unit we aim to offer activities both on the unit and within the local community. These can include relaxation, cooking skills, vocational support, creative writing, walking groups and pet therapy. These vary to suit individual client interests and needs. I help assist with setting groups up, as well as running them or support them to attend those which are held in the local community.

Come lunchtime its all hands on deck, we support our clients to plan, shop and prepare some of their own meals. In the afternoon, I may again be supporting someone to access the local community, or I may be providing 1:1 assessment work looking at how a client manages with particular activities, what they enjoy doing and what is important to them. This supports us to then work together setting goals and gradual steps to work towards achieving these. Come late afternoon I catch up with all my paperwork, ensuring a clear documented summary of the work done is in each client’s file as well as updating the relevant care plans and risk assessments before logging off for the day. After work I enjoy catching up with friends, or a visit to the gym for a nice relaxing swim, or if I'm feeling more energetic, maybe a class.

What do you like most about your work?

 I love the variety of my job! I love getting to know each individual client, hearing their stories and working with them to help make a difference. I also love the team I work with, I have great colleagues.

What do you like least? 

I would probably have to say all the paperwork, it can take away from face-face contact time; but it's an important part of the job and has to be done. Fitting it all in has definitely helped me improve my time management skills.