Diary of a therapy assistant

Date: 03 November 2017

As part of occupational therapy (OT) week from 6-12 November 2017, here is a day in the life of Jeremy Drabble who supports therapy interventions within Calderdale community learning disability team across intensive support and health and provides valuable work within the Calderdale area:

“My day will usually start at 9am. I’ll arrive at the office, check my emails (after the essential morning coffee) and check my calendar for the day. I usually talk with a few colleagues if there’s any work that I can assist with. I also use the beginning of the morning to complete any outstanding office work.

Once these morning tasks are complete I get to leave the office and get down to my favourite part of the job, visiting service users.

The first visit of the day is a service users sister and her partner.  I’m visiting to get an insight into the service users past life so I can continue with a piece of work I am completing called a communication passport. We sit down and discuss various details and information around the service users history (where he lived, past holidays, his time at work and at school). We chat about his likes and dislikes, favourite activities and his family show me pictures of when he was younger. With the families consent they allow me to use this information for this piece of work. I collect this information from the service user’s family and put it into an easy read format in his communication passport.

My next task is to visit him at his residential home. The gentleman I visit has stopped communicating verbally and spends a lot of his day in his home. This gentleman could hold full conversations, do crosswords and jigsaws and live fairly independently. The lead OT has worked with him and did an OT assessment. She then asked me to come and work with him to try and build a therapeutic relationship and help him regain some independence. A useful tool I use is an Ipad. I start by watching a few videos on YouTube with him to see what grabs his attention. I then use games and apps (drawing apps are useful) to capture the senses using colour and sound effects. We play games such as jigsaw puzzles and snooker.

As I’ve done this an understanding built up between myself and the gentleman. Before there appeared to be no emotion or personality but now I see a small smile when he hears the clock off the TV show Countdown or a murmur of appreciation when we complete a jigsaw puzzle. These moments however small are some of the most rewarding parts of the job”.

Occupational therapy aims to increase the functioning, engagement, and performance capacity of individuals in all areas of life. There are 180 OTs currently working in our Trust and learning disabilities is just one area of daily practice. During OT week think about the things you enjoy doing and imagine what it would be like if you couldn’t do them. Don’t forget to apply balance to your daily life and remember that doing = health and well being.