I was drawn to Occupational Therapy by chance when I got a job with Social Services as an Occupational Therapy assistant, thinking I might like to do social work. At that time, I had never even heard of Occupational Therapy!
I very soon realised that social work was not for me, but thought ‘what about this Occupational Therapy thing?’ As I worked alongside the Occupational Therapists I decided that this was going to be the career for me. It was about enabling people to be able to do things for themselves, often ordinary everyday things, but things that were important to them to be able to do.
I worked with this team for five-years and then went to St Loyes School of Occupational Therapy and completed a three-year diploma. My first job was working in an acute mental health ward at Moorhaven Hospital (which of course is now closed).
Although I loved this job, circumstances led me to move to Freedom Fields Hospital (also now closed!) to work on two, acute care of the elderly wards and later a split post with acute HCE and Oncology. During this time I completed my postgraduate Masters in Occupational Therapy – the first masters in OT. I also presented my research from my Masters at the World Federation of Occupational Therapists congress in Montreal – an incredibly proud moment for me.
Another closure, but a move to Derriford
As Freedom Fields Hospital began to close around me, I ended up moving here, to Derriford Hospital, when Oncology moved. I have continued to work in Oncology since then but with lots of variations along the way, some of which include working in the Mustard Tree cancer support centre, Cardiothoracics and, since 2000, being team led for the OT team which covers general medical, cardiothoracics and vascular surgery.
I have also worked at both local and regional level with the Royal College of Occupational Therapists. I have held a range of positions including, local group chairman and secretary, regional Council member, and most recently I have been chair of the South West regional committee for the last 14 years.
As I approach (slightly early) retirement, I still love being an Occupational Therapist and wouldn’t change a thing about my career pathway, it continues to be a rewarding and fruitful journey.
Jackie is writing as part of the #WeCare2 campaign that will be running across our Trust communications. Look out for more from Occupational Therapy, and their AHP and HCS colleagues, on our social media pages, Trust screensavers, Daily Email, Vital Signs and much more.