Interview With An Occupational Therapist: Celia Clack

1-2 minutes

In this blog, you will learn:

  • What it's like to be an Occupational Therapist.
  • What key qualities are essential to making a successful Occupational Therapist.
  • What a typical day looks like for an Occupational Therapist.
  • How to find and apply for the latest Occupational Therapist jobs.

A recent survey by the Royal College of Occupational Therapists found that, due to staff shortages, only 8% of Occupational Therapists feel they are able to fully provide the necessary level of occupational therapy support to meet the needs of individuals.

The survey also found that 86% of respondents said the demand for occupational therapy services had increased during the previous 12 months. The reasons given for this increase were varied, but 79% attributed it to lack of capacity elsewhere in the health and care system.

We recently caught up with Occupational Therapist, Celia Clack, to discover what areas of occupational therapy she finds particularly rewarding, what challenges she commonly faces in her role and how she overcomes them.

Celia, tell us about your career journey so far

I qualified as an Occupational Therapist in June 2021 and accepted a rotational job role in mental health, as I’ve always found mental health interesting. Each job role was 12 months, which means that every 12 months I moved to a new team within mental health. 

I worked for adults aged 65 years old and over on a male inpatient ward for individuals with dementia and experiencing behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD). 

My next post was in the crisis team. This role was for adults 18-65 years old who were in a crisis. This was a community-based treatment team and is an alternative to inpatient admission. 

I’m currently in the care home liaison team which sits within the rapid intervention treatment team for older adults aged 65 plus, which are both community based teams. 

The care home liaison team works with the care home to develop effective management plans. This is for individuals who are experiencing BPSD (behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia) to avoid antipsychotic medication and a hospital admission of service users, with an official diagnosis of dementia. 

What inspired you to become an Occupational Therapist? 

There were 3 main reasons which inspired me to become an Occupational Therapist:

Firstly, my husband at the time was involved in a motorbike accident and sustained a compound fracture and subsequently radial palsy in his dominant arm. He’s a chef by profession. 

I supported his rehabilitation with hand therapy and sensory integration avoiding surgical intervention. The nerve regenerated and he regained 90% use of this arm and was back in the kitchen after 18 months.  

Secondly, my brother-in-law had a cerebrovascular accident due to a blood clot in the carotid artery at the age of 39. This left him with severe left sided paralysis and unable to communicate effectively. 

I worked alongside his Physiotherapist and Occupational Therapist while he was in rehabilitation and continued the treatment when he returned home. 

Thirdly, my mum had vascular dementia and remained in her own home. She was supported by carers 4 times a day. I lived a 3 and a half hour drive away from my mum so I relied heavily on her carers and Social Worker

When my mum passed away, I wanted to give back to society and support those living in their own homes, especially for families who live a distance away like I did. 

At this point I embarked on my journey to becoming an Occupational Therapist. However, I first had to complete the access to higher education course to qualify for university due to my age and ‘stale’ qualifications. 

What does a typical day in your role as an Occupational Therapist look like for you?

Each morning, I get together with the multidisciplinary team to discuss what our plans are for the week. 

On a Monday, I always plan the week ahead, check my allocated caseload and identify care plans for each individual. I also check my diaries for weekly team meetings and training courses booked in. I make phone calls to care homes to arrange visits, prepare assessments that are to be completed and print support plans from the previous week for the care homes.

On a Tuesday through to a Friday, I complete visits, assessments, observations and reviews that need to be done. I also write up notes and reports with the plan for the following week.

What specific areas of Occupational Therapy do you find particularly rewarding? 

I enjoy meeting the service users and finding out their history as they always enjoy reminiscing. I’m able to find out their likes, dislikes and past meaningful activities which helps with the intervention treatment.

Activities are very important for older adults with dementia as it reduces boredom, improves cognition and interpersonal skills. This may be as simple as recommending a meaningful activity for an individual which changes their behaviour in a positive way.  

In your opinion, what are the key qualities that make a successful Occupational Therapist? 

  • Being respectful.
  • Compassion and empathy.
  • Being kind and considerate.
  • Being gentle but assertive.
  • Being motivated and being able to motivate.
  • Resilience.
  • Being flexible.
  • Having a positive attitude.
  • Being creative.

What challenges do you commonly face in your role, and how do you overcome them? 

There are three common challenges I face in my role:

  • Low staff compliments - We need to be flexible and support the team. Due to this we are often called upon to support other areas of the team such as medication reviews within RITT (Rapid Intervention and Treatment Team). I overcome this by ensuring I protect my occupational therapy time by setting aside some time, this may mean completing some work in a quieter environment.
  • Staying on top of all my paperwork - This can include completing a full observation/assessment report. In addition to updating other documents such as individuals' care plan, risk assessment and health and social needs. This is overcome by setting aside one day a week for admin. It’s important to take notes while visiting the individual. A diary also helps with planning. 
  • A rotational role - It takes time to settle into a new team and how the team works and learn the processes they follow. Just as one settles in, it’s time to move to a new team. However, this is not all negative as it has built my confidence, knowledge, and skills. The teams have also been very supportive. I overcome these challenges by shadowing for the first 4 weeks and ‘finding my feet’, taking lots of notes and reflecting.

What advice would you give to someone considering a career in Occupational Therapy? 

Absolutely GO FOR IT! The university course I completed was 3 years, it was hard (maybe as I was 51 years old) but those 3 years went quickly.  

Occupational Therapists help in all areas of life, this can be social, inpatient, community, all age groups. It’s about finding your niche whether that is physical health or mental health. 

The holistic approach means you get to look at all aspects that may be inhibiting the individual. Not to mention how rewarding the role is.  

Do you have any specific goals or aspirations for your career as an Occupational Therapist? 

I enjoy working with older adults with dementia and would like to stay within this age group. I would one day like to work as an independent Occupational Therapist within the community. I aspire to continue to be the best Occupational Therapist that I can and improve the quality of life for those service users that I meet. 

I’m currently working towards a band 6 role within the NHS as I feel ready to take on more responsibilities within my current role and this includes supporting students.

Occupational Therapist jobs 

If you’re searching for your dream Occupational Therapist job, why not check out the current vacancies we have available? Or upload your CV and healthcare recruitment specialist, Natalie Boaler, will be in touch if there are any relevant opportunities for you! 

Recruit Occupational Therapists 

Looking to recruit Occupational Therapists? We provide Occupational Therapists to NHS Trusts and private sector organisations nationwide on a temporary, permanent, and interim basis. 

If you’re keen to know more about our occupational therapy recruitment services, contact Natalie Boaler on 01772 954200.

Share your experience 

Every individual brings a unique set of experiences, thoughts, and insights to the table. We believe in giving a voice to a community of professionals to inspire positive change and champion reform in the healthcare sector.  

If you work in the healthcare sector and would like to share your own personal and professional experiences, we’d love to hear from you. Perhaps you have a different perspective, could offer a fresh angle, or want to challenge assumptions. 

Simply reach out to our Head of Content, Nicole Sherwood, to discuss a collaboration which makes your voice count. 

Who is Spencer Clarke Group?

Located in the North West, we’re an energetic recruitment agency with a passion for innovation, culture and positivity. From the way we do business, to our core values, we are driven by our commitment to the evolution and progression of the recruitment agency.

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