Tuesday 29th September 2015
Mac Voice, the magazine for Macmillan professionals: Autumn 2015
Jo Peasley on her role within a Macmillan therapy team
The dictionary definition of ‘to enable’ is:
‘1. To provide (someone) with adequate power, means, opportunity (to do something)
2. To make possible.’
A patient recently remarked that our Macmillan Therapy team could be described using his former job title – Enabler.
His job had been to deliver parts to workers, enabling them to fulfil customer orders, and providing exactly what was needed to achieve business goals in a timely manner. As he explained, our team was providing him with the necessary equipment, practice and techniques he required to achieve his goal of returning home.
I work as a Macmillan occupational therapy assistant practitioner within the Macmillan therapy team based at Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospital Trust. The team consists of five occupational therapists with a range of experience, and myself.
Learning the value of occupational therapy
I started working for the Trust in May 2000 as an input clerk. I had never heard of occupational therapy. By 2004, I had applied for an occupational therapy assistant role in orthopaedics. I progressed to become a rehabilitation support worker within a medicine team. It was during this time that I was often asked to see people with an oncology or palliative diagnosis (there was no specialist team within the Sandwell site at that time).
I increasingly understood how occupational therapy could be of benefit; enabling people to achieve their preferred place of care or death, or to remain as independent as possible while managing symptoms such as breathlessness or fatigue.
Often, patients and their families or carers just needed someone to talk to. I knew this was the area I wanted to work in.
In January 2011, I was excited to hear that the Macmillan occupational therapist at City Hospital had managed to successfully bid for Macmillan funding to employ an assistant practitioner. I applied and by August 2011 I was in post.
The purpose of my post is to assist the Macmillan occupational therapists in assessing patients’ needs and implementing therapy plans to facilitate timely discharge for people and improve their quality of life once they return home. This input could include providing equipment, offering psychological support, practising breathing techniques or referring to external agencies. The list is exhaustive!
For example, one of the first patients I saw was a lady whose wish was to be able to independently write a card for her granddaughter’s 21st birthday the next month. We practised daily and she did write that card, alongside one thanking me for all my help. I still have that card, it’s a good reminder of the difference we can make to people’s lives.
The assistant practitioner role has allowed me to work more autonomously to assess need and carry out intervention while working under direct supervision of our occupational therapists. A perfect role.
My future goals? To continue increasing my knowledge and skills with support from my colleagues and Macmillan in order to enable many more people to live well.
Macmillan Occupational Therapy Assistant Practitioner
Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospital Trust
0121 507 4485