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Occupational therapists reach out to the next generation

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OCCUPATIONAL Therapy Week has seen school visits to help secure the next generation of the profession.

Occupational therapists, left to right, Paula O’Keefe, Lynne Wood, Sarah Rive, Peter Smart, Leigh Millward, Aoife Finn and Trish Pill are joined by Malcolm the mannequin to promote Occupational Therapy Week. (Picture by Steve Sarre, 23040621)

The week runs annually with a different aim – this year’s focuses on securing the future of the profession.

Members of the profession have been asked to make pledges, and occupational therapy assistant Peter Smart said this year he had chosen to promote the role to the island’s younger generation.

‘It is all about ensuring that we strategise how we will secure the future and make sure there is a new generation of therapists coming through,’ he said.

‘We’ve done that this year by attending schools on the island talking to the students about why they may want to pursue it as a career.

‘There was a real positive response at the schools, everyone seemed interested.’

Specialist occupational therapist Toni Harts added: ‘With recruitment and retention an issue throughout Health & Social Care, if we can get more local people interested in the profession that would be amazing.

‘It’s all about promoting our professions and putting it to the forefront of people’s minds, because occupational therapy is probably one of the lesser known therapies.’

There are around 20 occupational therapists operating in the island, with around half of those based at the Princess Elizabeth Hospital.

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Part of Occupational Therapy Week is about showing people the impact the profession has on people’s lives.

‘There isn’t a huge number of us, but we run through a range of different conditions with people,’ said Mrs Harts

‘We work with people who have had strokes, orthopaedic and mental health conditions and general medical conditions.

‘At the core of all of that our whole ethos in a very holistic way is to treat everybody to help them to become as independent as possible.

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‘It is hugely important, we try and keep people out of hospital in their own homes, reducing the burden on social and health care.

‘If they are able to go home and be more active because of us then obviously the knock-on effect can be to the whole system.’

Mr Smart added that the role they play had some great benefits for the patient.

‘Someone who has had a stroke may be unable to wash themselves or go to the shops.

‘Through us we are enabling them to be more independent and it give them such a sense of achievement.

‘It is such an unrecognised profession, we want as many people to find out about us as possible.’

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