Case study

Occupational therapist — Kirsty Perriman

Kirsty enjoys working in a busy inpatient unit for young people with learning disabilities. Find out more about what she likes most about her role, as well as the challenges she faces

What degree did you study?

I studied for a BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy at Cardiff University and graduated in 2022.

How did you get your job?

I got my job through Your World Healthcare, a specialist healthcare recruitment agency. I was referred to them by a friend, who is also an occupational therapist.

At the time, I was really struggling to find a job that suited my need for part-time work and which was also within commutable distance. I was constantly searching on Google and on LinkedIn.

However, once I'd been referred to Your World Healthcare my recruiter was able to quickly find a position in my preferred setting, which also fit my needs. There was just a short application form and some standard checks to complete before having a relaxed telephone call with my prospective manager about the job. After deciding to accept, I started within a week.

What's a typical working day like?

I work closely as part of a multidisciplinary team in an inpatient unit for young people with learning disabilities. My role involves helping them to reach their occupational goals and to create a stimulating environment where they can thrive in the unit.

Patients usually present with 'challenging behaviours' which are managed and treated in preparation for discharge. Interventions are based around occupational interests and goals such as cooking classes, live musician visits, relaxation, sensory activities, arts and crafts, and community visits.

We hold weekly multidisciplinary team meetings for each patient to discuss their developments. These meetings can include occupational therapists, nurses, psychiatrists, speech and language therapists, and many other professionals. I also write daily case notes and complete reports as part of each patient's recovery.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love the rapport you build with the patients and how rewarding it is to see them achieve their goals. It is great to watch young people's lives grow and develop in preparation for discharge.

I also love the creative aspect of my job, when exploring and thinking up new intervention ideas for the patients. Every day is different and you need to think on your feet, which means it never gets repetitive or boring.

What are the challenges?

The most frequent challenge I face is the challenging behaviour of some of the young people. Because people with learning disabilities have such complex needs, it can be difficult to find an intervention that works for them which they can continue to use. This is why it is important to understand patients and their needs to prevent challenging behaviours from arising.

In what way is your degree relevant?

My occupational therapy degree is essential as it's not possible to work as an occupational therapist unless you have completed an accredited course.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

I am currently a locum in an NHS band 6 role and am soon being interviewed for the full-time post.

In the future, I hope to further explore neurological disorders and neurology fields as an occupational therapist.

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

  • Keep both your physical and mental health skills and knowledge up to date as the role involves an amalgam of the two.
  • Make sure you are willing to work with challenging behaviour as this is common among those with learning disabilities.
  • Don't rush into interventions before you have fully assessed or spent time with the patients.

Find out more

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