To celebrate this week’s national Occupational Therapy Week, we spoke to Aman Davegun, an occupational therapist (OT) by background who recently took on a new role as practice development facilitator – the first time we’ve had this role in our Therapies team.
Lives: with her family in Seven Kings
And: In her spare time Aman loves dancing and choreography.
Tell us more about what we’ve got going on for Occupational Therapy Week
We had a stall in the atrium at Queen’s Hospital on Monday (4 November), and here again on Friday (8 November). It’s a chance to meet members of our team and do challenges which put you in the shoes of patients who struggle with everyday things, like buttoning up a shirt who while wearing a sling. It’s also a chance for us to talk to the public about occupational therapy as a career.
We’re having coffee and cake sessions – we had one a King George Hospital on Wednesday (6 November) and will hold one at Queen’s Hospital on Thursday (7 November).
My colleagues Katie Johnson, Wonu Adepegba, Megan Arendorf and Aisling O’Neill have been instrumental in organising it all.
Your new role is a first for our Trust, tell us more about what it involves
Practice development facilitator has previously been a nursing based role; this is the first time it’s been done by a therapist. I went on a practice development course in July, which was amazing; I was the only therapist.
My role is to support and develop my colleagues, celebrate their success and help them to make changes for a more positive workplace culture. There’s a national shortage of OTs so there’s an aspect of improving staff retention.
It’s really exciting as it’s a new role so it’s open to interpretation - I can scope where the need lies and can also be quite creative. I’m supporting over 200 therapy staff across our Trust, including dietitians, speech and language therapists, physiotherapists and OTs.
The role of the OT is about promoting the independence of patients, getting them back to doing normal everyday tasks and enabling them to do things for themselves. There are a lot of transferable skills I can use in this role.
I’ve been doing it since July and I was really proud to be involved in our band 4 project where we upskilled our therapy assistants so they could see patients themselves and hold their own caseloads. This has really made a difference to them, and has reduced delays for our patients.
We’ve also set up staff engagement groups to look at the issues which affect us and how we can make improvements. I facilitate these sessions; however, it’s our therapy staff who lead them.
I find it so rewarding.
Tell more about how you became an OT, as it wasn’t your original career choice, was it?
When I was younger I planned to get into fashion design. I loved drawing and sewing and used to make my own leather jackets – I had a special machine to do it as it’s really difficult.
However, I did some shadowing in a fashion agency and realised it wasn’t for me.
My mum is in social work so I went to work with her and met some OTs. I thought the work they did was amazing. The theme of OT Week is small change, big difference and that’s exactly what they do. Small changes can make a huge difference to patients.
I saw them put techniques in place to help a stroke patient who had memory issues, like pictures of relatives to help him remember their names, and a white board to remind him to take his medicine. It meant his wife could go out again and he gained some independence, so it had a massive impact for them.
I studied biology, chemistry, maths and textiles A-levels and as soon as I decided I wanted to be an OT, I applied to Brunel University and got onto a three-year course.
I did placements at our Trust, which really helped when I came for an interview. My first interview was elsewhere and I was so nervous I didn’t get it. Here, I recognised some of the staff and that gave me confidence. I’ve been here for four years.
What do you like most about being an OT?
I’m really passionate about neurology and neurosurgery patients. They have amazing stories and as they can often be quite young, they’ve got a lot to get back to; work, studying or young families – being able to help them get back to it is so rewarding.
OTs have a huge positive impact on patients’ psychological health too, such as acceptance of disabilities and new ways of living, not just existing.
Some patients can be really memorable: I worked with a man in his 50s who was knocked off his bike and suffered a serious brain injury. He was in neuro ITU for a long time and couldn’t do anything for himself, it took three people to help him walk, and he could be quite aggressive.
I bumped into his wife recently and she showed me videos of him walking by himself and in the gym – I was so pleased.
What else do you like to get up to?
I’ve been dancing since school where I did a lot of contemporary and street dance. Now I mainly do street and dancing in heels (with a bit of Beyoncé choreography)! It’s really fun and empowering. I used to perform but now I just do it for fun.
I also love interior design and recently re-did our lounge and I still sew.
And our favourite question of In Conversation With…do you have any pets?
I’ve got a ginger cat, Tiddles. He’s beautiful and massive, like a lion!