Francesca SmartQUALIFIED IN October 2018
Francesca came across the term ‘occupational therapy’ when she was studying for a BSc (Hons) in Psychology. Before her final year, she completed a six-week psychology placement in Sri Lanka’s national mental health hospital and some local orphanages.
My experience in Sri Lanka confirmed to me that I wanted to work with people, but I didn’t know in which role exactly. Then an occupational therapist came to speak to my mum about some adaptations to her house – she has cerebral palsy – and I was intrigued.
“Having been a carer for my mum my whole life, I loved the idea of adaptations that would help her live her best life. I asked the occupational therapist what felt like a million questions and it clicked – this would suit me as a career.”
I spent some time shadowing occupational therapists before being accepted on a two-year MSc degree course in occupational therapy. I was really pleased that I could qualify in just two years.
I’m currently working with children and adults with learning disabilities in a third-sector organisation, supporting them and their parents to achieve their goals through play.
“It’s a joy to be in a setting where someone is excited to engage. I love that I can support people to achieve their goals and become more independent while making it fun and silly to promote engagement. I spend a lot of my day laughing and talking about the different characters we create!”
COVID has made things more difficult, but one of the things I enjoy about this job is the problem-solving element. One of the children I work with has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), which affects communication and behaviour, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which can cause above-normal levels of hyperactivity and impulsiveness. Because he was shielding, he was no longer able to participate in one-to-one therapeutic play. So we made sure he had inclusive play equipment, an iPad and access to a Calm app to use at home.
His family told us we’ve been a significant support to them, reduced their anxiety and enabled them to engage in lots of family play and interactions. It’s great to be able to make a difference to the lives of whole families.
HEAR FROM SOME OCCUPATIONAL THERAPISTS
Discover more about day-to-day life as an occupational therapist
Rosemarie Adams on problem solving
“Each individual’s situation and recovery is unique. This encourages the exploration of new advances in treatment approaches.”Read more
Callum MacKinnon on growth
“There are great career progression opportunities.”Read more
Rupesh Nayee on empathy
“I really enjoy making a connection with someone, understanding what’s important to them.”Read more
Neha Sood on development
“I’m always learning something new.”Read more
Natasha May Powell on creativity
“I can be creative and work with people to find solutions to their problems.”Read more
Monica Iofciu on continuous learning
“It’s a career where we can learn every day, especially because no two days are ever the same.”Read more
Kristabel Ewers on teamwork
“Everyone is always bouncing ideas off of each other.”Read more
Chris Wood on having an impact
“I make a difference rather than a diagnosis.”Read more