Category Archives: Day in the life

A day in the life of a children’s occupational therapist

This is a day in the life of an occupational therapist (OT) working with our Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) in Herefordshire:

“I arrive at the office and grab a coffee and sort through messages from parents, often about concerns or requests for support to help school understand. Returning calls and trying to catch teachers before lessons start is always a bit of a challenge.

“First appointment today with a young girl and her mum and dad. She is struggling at school with learning and socialising with others. Working with the whole family helps to see how they are together. Some roleplay helped us all to understand what happens when things go wrong and lead to her social isolation. As OTs, we are really skilled in coming up with practical strategies to manage challenges. Some cutting, sticking and laminating later for this family, they have a traffic light system to use at home and school to help her share how she feels.

“Dealing with the unexpected is part of every single day in a CAMHS team. This time, a phone call from a distressed dad whose son is struggling to come to terms with the death of a friend by suicide. Drawing on the skills of the medic and psychologist in the team, together we can support him through the grieving process.

“My skills as an OT really help to support young people to achieve success in spite of their challenges with anxiety. Planning activities so they are achievable is a really important part of what we do. This might be homework, essays, meeting friends after school or things that are more important to them, such as being able to ask for a can of Coke in the canteen.

“Helping schools to understand how best to support someone and enable their success is so important. Often, it’s about helping teachers to understand the young person’s experiences and suggest that maybe asking them to read aloud in front of the class isn’t the best thing right now. We can challenge them with that later, but first let’s give them a space where they can be confident enough to do their learning.

“At lunchtime there is time to catch up with my fellow OTs, to share knowledge about a new referral and the best approach to support a young boy who has been diagnosed with Selective Mutism following a major trauma and is struggling in school. Sharing experience and picking the brains of colleagues is always useful.

“Every day is different and being creative (another OT skill!) about how we might support a person to overcome their challenges is a great part of the role. Today, it’s running down to the radiology department at the County Hospital to take lots of photos of the department, X-ray machines and members of staff holding a board with messages of encouragement for a girl who is on the Autistic Spectrum who is trying hard to overcome a specific phobic of X-rays so she can have  important surgery.  Brilliant!

“It’s a busy, demanding job with many positives and the odd challenge or two. Now and again, things happen which remind us why we do what we do. While cycling home, I pass a young person I used to work with who is hanging out with his mates and ‘being cool’ but manages to give me a quick grin that reassures me all is still going well; phew.”

A night in the life of an occupational therapist

“I’ve just finished a night shift at the Maxwell Suite and am looking forward to sinking into bed.

“On my drive home I have been reflecting on the many conversations I’ve had during the night; with my colleagues, the police, AMHPs, doctors, the accident and emergency department, the wards, taxi drivers, service users and family members – true multi-agency working!

“Many were conversations with services users who can’t sleep because of their intrusive thoughts or voices. As an occupational therapist, my skills in understanding how mental illness can impact on the things we want to do and need to do come in really useful. They help me identify what might help. things people enjoy that might be a distraction, but also sometimes just to listen and acknowledge how tough it feels.

“There was a call from the police. They have detained someone and are on route to the Maxwell suite and we will soon need to meet them and understand how we can best support the person.

“While on my phone call I could hear a colleague talking to someone on the phone and asking how many pills they had taken and trying to gently get information about their whereabouts.

“Another colleague is on a call with carers, who are desperately trying to advocate for a loved one, while they can be heard in distress in the background.

“As I end my call, I reach over for information about where the service user might be, and call an ambulance.   Working together and supporting each is so important in this role.

“Then everything falls quiet and tea is made. The three of us on nights write up our notes, still wondering how that family are managing their distressed loved one and if the ambulance has found the other person.

“At 2am, a moment of respite, the bright office light goes off and the lamp on. Everything falls silent.

“2.30am: The front buzzer goes. The police are standing with the service user they have brought in for assessment.  They are welcomed and reassured.  Physical health checks are completed and tea and toast offered. It’s really important to remember the small things that can make a tough situation a little bit better.  The police go and the AMHP and doctor are called.  The suite bustles with people and work continues till daylight breaks.

“After a busy shift I arrive home and make a cup of tea to take to bed.  There’s something nice about sleeping in the day while my untouched cuppa goes cold.”

A Day in the Life of Jon

Jon Haynes is a Consultant Psychiatrist with the Gloucestershire Recovery in Psychosis (GRiP) / Early Intervention team

“I’ve worked for the Trust for five years. After qualifying in 1997, I did a range of jobs including surgery, but became much more interested in psychiatry. I find it allows you to get to know patients better and understand what makes them tick.  It’s more of a challenge”.

“My day to day work is wonderfully varied. My day often starts with a team meeting.  This includes professionals such as occupational therapists, social workers and nurses. No day really looks the same because I see patients in clinics or in their own homes.  I supervise junior doctors and my team, and teach medical students.”

“A highpoint is seeing the impact of the annual outward bound trip which some of our service users go on, organised by the GRiP Team. They come back with increased confidence and a sense of autonomy which they didn’t have before.”

“I’m also Associate Medical Director and Clinical Director; therefore I also help shape the future of mental health services for Gloucestershire and Herefordshire; I contribute to the clinical governance programme that gives assurance to the public that services provided by 2gether are safe.”

“We undertake more home visits in Early Intervention than in most other teams as we aim to increase engagement because the early years are so crucial for the long-term trajectory of psychotic illness. It’s a job where you can make a huge difference but it’s a challenge because we are still combatting a degree of stigma. Psychiatry can often be under appreciated as it takes commitment and time to keep working at it to realise what a fantastic speciality it is.”

“I love all of it, the variety, but what I love most is people getting better and patients either returning to normal health, or recovering and gaining a meaningful life even if symptoms are persistent”.

Lloyd Andrews

A day in the life of Lloyd

Lloyd Andrews is an Exercise and Health Practitioner and lead to the Physiotherapy and Exercise Team at Wotton Lawn Hospital.

“Alongside the physiotherapists, the role of the Exercise and Health Practitioner is to be one of the  leaders in the physical health of patients at Wotton Lawn, advising on nutrition, exercise, stopping smoking and generally living a healthy lifestyle.

“Each day we start by assessing any new patients who have been admitted into the hospital. We look at the persons nutritional status, for instance whether they have been eating well prior to admission. Alongside the nursing staff, we offer clinical advice on any improvements which could be made to the individual’s diet.

We also complete an assessment tool which looks at risks of cardiovascular disease in patients from things such as diet, increased BMI, lack of exercise or smoking. This is then used to make a plan with the patient going forward.

“We run groups and one to one exercise sessions for patients, including trampolining, gym, badminton, swimming and walking. We do pre exercise assessments on all patients before they do any exercise so that we can plan activities suited to their abilities.

“All patients are offered food and nutrition advice and we are also looking into offering group nutrition sessions in the near future. We also offer smoking cessation sessions to help patients who smoke to cut down or stop with support.

“I love my job because it is so varied. I meet so many new people and they all have different backgrounds and stories to tell.

“I work in a very dedicated and skilled team and that makes such a difference. I am really interested in improving physical wellbeing to help mental wellbeing and I love helping to make a difference to people’s lives through something I’m so passionate about.

“At the moment we are doing a lot of work on trying to educate staff and patients on healthy diet and how a variety of foods can be enjoyed in moderation. I firmly believe that staff are role models for patients and we have a great opportunity to demonstrate healthy lifestyles by following what we teach ourselves.

Charlotte Broady

A day in the life of Charlotte

Charlotte Broady is a Charge Nurse at Charlton Lane Hospital in Cheltenham. Charlton Lane provides specialist assessment, treatment and care for older people with functional mental health problems and people with dementia.

“In my role I spend the majority of my time directly involved in patient care as well as spending time with families. I lead, manage and supervise the work of staff nurses and healthcare assistants and as a charge nurse I always try to lead by example so I promote the highest standards of clinical nursing care.

“Each shift begins with a handover where any important information is shared. I act as shift co-ordinator, delegating duties amongst staff and prioritising for the shift ahead.

“As part of my role I also have management days where I complete audits, take on new trust projects or initiatives or attend meetings such as the inpatient managers meeting. This gives a snapshot of what is going on elsewhere in the trust.

“Another part of my role is to act as clinical lead for the hospital during weekends and nights shifts. I can be that ‘go to’ person to help with any concerns or queries.

“The nursing team and the medical team often meet a few times a week as the mental and physical health of patients can change on a daily basis.

“The part I most enjoy about my role is spending time with patients, this enables me to contribute and advocate for their care and any treatment they need.

“Older people’s mental health nursing is my passion, in this field you can be the person that really makes a difference and change the trajectory of somebody’s life. No two days are the same and I am forever learning in my current role.”

Find out more about a career in nursing here – https://www.healthcareers.nhs.uk/explore-roles/nursing.

Arthur Nield

A day in the life of Arthur

Arthur Neild is an IT Project Support Technician working in the IT Projects Team at Trust HQ.

“I work in the IT team, providing support to staff on various IT issues and projects.

“A typical day will start with running through the list of support requests to see if there are any queries which need dealing with urgently. I’ll then spend the morning planning my work and checking progress of different projects.

“I’m usually working on longer term projects so I tend to know what I’ll be doing in advance. But throughout the day we’ll also get calls into the project team which may need dealing with immediately.

“Recently I’ve been working on the project to co-locate the new crisis service within the Police Headquarters which has been really interesting to be a part of. Last year I also spent a lot of time working on changing the email system to NHS Mail. It was hard work but it’s great now it’s all done!

“I really enjoy my job and I work in a great team. There’s lots of variety and plenty of opportunities to try new things. Sometimes there are difficult queries and things don’t go to plan, but it’s so rewarding to solve a difficult problem.

Toni Cooper

A day in the life of Toni

Toni Cooper is a Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) Officer based at Trust HQ.

“I start my day by checking my inbox for new feedback, which can be good, bad or indifferent. We have a team meeting every day to go through what has come in, looking at what is outstanding and then share out the actions.

“I call people who have made complaints to find out what their concerns are and what their preferred outcome would be, before looking at how we can achieve that. Our complaints and feedback come from anyone within the Trust. We receive 170 complaints per year and another 250 concerns or signposting of issues.

“It is really important that I am able to develop a good relationship with staff and know how to access all kinds of information. I really enjoy being able to get something sorted out for someone.

“I don’t enjoy having to tell someone that what they want doesn’t exist, that we don’t provide it, or a situation where nothing can be done, such as being on a waiting list.

“If I could pass on one message to staff, it’s to be nice. Or if you’re being nice, be nicer!”

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Sam Turley

A day in the life of Sam

Sam Turley is a Senior Case Worker at Gloucestershire Recovery in Psychosis team.

“I start my day by planning out my work and checking up on people that I’ve not seen, to see how they are progressing.

“I have a caseload of about 15 people, and they range from very unwell, to being in quite a good stage of recovery. I work with 14- to 35-year-olds, who are having their first episode of psychosis or are at risk of psychosis, and my role is to manage their mental health with them.

“This can be done in a number of ways, from equipping them with techniques and strategies to manage symptoms or stress, working with them to manage their medication, to helping them get back into jobs and education and promoting their independence.

“I also work with service users to look at the early warning signs, so together we can see when they may be becoming unwell again.

“My work is very varied; one day I may be going into a school to discuss how they can better support one of their students, while another day I could be visiting a service user with a doctor to talk about them coming off their medication.

“We work with people for up to three years, supporting them through a stay in hospital, recovery and preventing them relapsing. Many people will have one psychotic episode and then recover, and early intervention can support this.

“I really enjoy working with this particular group of service users, and find it very rewarding. There’s not really anything I don’t like about my role or the Trust, which can only be a good thing!

“My team is great; very open, forward thinking, passionate and progressive. Everyone is very supportive, both from a personal and professional perspective. The opportunities for professional development that the Trust offers are also excellent; I’ve been offered lots of training.”

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Reann Goulding

A day in the life of Reann

Reann Goulding is a Senior Mental Health Practitioner with the Crisis Team.

“It’s fair to say our job is never boring. We work 24-hour rotational shifts, and each shift begins with a handover. We discuss our cases and plan our other work, such as visits and assessments, and following up early discharges.

“We pick up anything that comes through to the office, as well as carrying a pager, which we respond to within an hour.

“In the course of a shift, we can speak to community teams, pharmacists, GPs, Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT), psychotherapists, approved mental health professionals (AMHPs), health visitors, and the police. We cover a really wide and diverse area, so there is plenty of travelling involved.

“We never know exactly what we are walking into, which some people may find stressful, but I enjoy.

“It wakes up and consolidates all our mental health skills, as people can present very differently outside the hospital environment. We have to think on our feet, making difficult decisions in the community.

“Like any job, it does have its challenges, such as interfacing with the service user while trying to maintain a therapeutic relationship. Managing our workloads can also be tricky at times.

“I find my job fascinating; I still feel like I’m learning every day.”

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Ben Land

A day in the life of Ben

Ben Land is a Clinical Analyst in the Clinical Systems Team based at Trust HQ.

“My role supports the clinical systems that we use in the Trust. We aim to help clinicians do their job and to make it easy for people to put information into the system in a more effective way.

“I create new forms and new areas of our clinical systems programs, as requested by clinicians. To do this, I meet with the people who need the form and find out what they need, working within the system to deliver what they want.

“I have to engage with colleagues across the entire Trust, balancing the requirements of the Trust and national policies against what clinicians need to use the service for. I ensure the system is always relevant and useful.

“On average, as a team we receive 40-50 queries or requests per day and they vary in size. Some can be resolved instantly, some can take a month or two, while others can take eight months. I have to work out who the changes will impact and take all those people into consideration.

“We also run Design and Implementation Groups (DIGs) to allow users to talk about changes to the systems and how they use different areas of it.

“Before taking this role, I was a mental health nurse, and I think it’s really important that people with a clinical background do this role, something that the Trust has been used as a benchmark for.

“It doesn’t feel like there are enough hours in the day sometimes to get things done, but my experience of the Trust has been that people are really positive and friendly. They’ve really encouraged me to focus on my professional development and fulfil my potential.”

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