Occupational Therapy (OT) Week drew to a close yesterday (Sunday 8 November) and while like many things we marked it a little bit differently this year, it was still a great opportunity to recognise the diverse range of OTs working across our Trust.
Elyscia Howell (pictured) is a senior OT working with oncology and renal patients. Having worked here right after qualifying from 2015 to 2017, Elyscia left to work at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, returning to our Trust in April, just as the Covid-19 pandemic hit.
She said: “It was a really tough finding my feet in a pandemic. I started off on our Covid wards, piloting ways of treating Covid patients, most of whom were very unwell. It was a lot of work and we were right in the thick of it. We were looking at really basic things, like how we could help patients to go to the toilet and wash themselves.
“What made a difference for me was how our teams pulled together, there was a great family spirit; everyone was checking in and picking each other up when we were having a tough time. That made it much more bearable.”
Elyscia is now back working with her usual patients, helping to advise them through their treatment, on fatigue management, equipment to adapt their environment to help them, and supporting some through palliative care, making sure they have their last wishes met.
Across our Trust we have lots of different OTs, some working with amputee patients, rehabilitating those who’ve had a stroke, giving hand therapy and specialists in elderly care to name a few.
For Elyscia, who always knew she wanted to work in healthcare but wasn’t sure in what capacity, becoming an OT turned out to be her perfect fit.
She added: “One of my teachers suggested it as I was good at adapting and thinking outside the box. That’s what we do as OTs, we look at how we can do things differently. We look at the daily activities of our patients and see what adaptions we can make to help them live independently.
“I love seeing patients and doing something meaningful. Patients have lots done to them in hospital, so it’s good to be able to enable them to do things for themselves. I love to see big smiles on their faces when they’re able to do something they didn’t think they could. That’s why it’s been the perfect job for me.”
During OT Week we held small, safe, networking sessions, allowing a limited number of therapists from different teams to meet each other; we also ran socially distanced wellbeing and relaxation sessions.
As the event is usually all about coming together and sharing food, Elyscia wanted to keep that part alive in a different way, so shared a recipe of the day across the OT network.