Case study

Locum occupational therapist — Catherine Hill

Catherine enjoys supporting patients to return home from hospital and regain their independence. Find out more about how she got her job and what her role involves

What degree did you study and where?

I graduated with a PG Dip Occupational Therapy from Cardiff University in 2021.

How did you get your job?

I searched for occupational therapist locum jobs on Google, and Your World Healthcare came out as one of the top results. I got in touch with them and was assigned to an adviser. We talked through what I was looking for and how they could help.

I was newly qualified and there weren't really any locum positions for Band 5, but there was one opportunity in Swansea. We discussed the role and negotiated the hourly rate and benefits, both coming to agreement. My adviser then sorted everything out for me to start, from all the paperwork to completing mandatory training. It was a really easy and smooth path from discussion about the role to actually starting, taking only a few weeks.

What's a typical working day like?

I start work about 8.30am and check in with my team first. I might also discuss some of my patients with more senior colleagues if I have a complex case, for example.

I have a Board Round on the ward at 9am with the doctors, ward sister and physiotherapists, which sets the priorities for the day. The physiotherapist and I then discuss which patients we need/want to see jointly.

I spend time with my patients, assessing how well they can transfer from their bed to the chair/toilet and discussing what support they need to go home. I assess for any equipment (such as raised toilet seats or equipment to get in/out of bed independently) and order these for delivery to the patient’s home.

I also make referrals to the reablement team, a team of rehabilitation carers, occupational therapists and physiotherapists who work with the patient in their home getting them back to independence. In amongst all of this are phone calls to patients' families to update them and explain what is happening with their loved one.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

It's very satisfying to get people home. Often the patient can feel quite low as they don't know how they are going to cope at home. However, once I've explained what equipment and support is available to help them to go home and get back their independence, they feel much more positive.

What are the challenges?

If a patient needs a long-term package of care, the wait for a social worker to organise this is lengthy and then there is another wait for a care agency to pick up the patient and get them home. This is frustrating as there are not enough social workers or community carers and the whole discharge process stops, just waiting.

In what way is your degree relevant?

My PG Dip in Occupational Therapy is essential to this role. It's not possible to work as an occupational therapist unless you have completed an accredited course.

What advice can you give to others wanting to get into this job?

  • The application process for graduate entry to occupational therapy is tough and the admissions tutors want to see that you are passionate and committed to the profession. I advise doing some work shadowing to get a feel for the different areas that occupational therapists work in. Don't sell yourself short on the application form. Be open to where it might take you.
  • I would recommend that other newly qualified occupational therapists consider locum work. Getting my first job through Your World Recruitment was a really positive experience for me, from the first discussions to the actual job. My adviser keeps in regular touch with me to make sure everything is OK and I feel very supported.

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