On Monday 15th October 2018, Livewell Southwest is celebrating national Allied Health Professional (AHP) day at a range of events throughout the city.
Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) are registered clinicians from across a range of professions. Within Livewell Southwest these include physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, podiatry, orthotics, prosthetics, dietetics, psychology, paramedicine, operating department practitioners, and art, music and drama therapy.
As part of our celebrations, we asked our Allied Health Professionals to talk to us about a typical day in their lives.
“My role involves making informal assessments and delivering therapy to children, either individually or in groups, as well as supporting parents and helping to train students and school staff.
“On a typical day, I prepare resources to delivery therapy targets as set by the speech and language therapists. I travel to the nursery, school or home of the patient, delivery therapy and then provide feedback to the parent. I then either return to the office to write up notes or travel to another setting to see more children. I check my emails and answer messages, make sure children are booked in for appointments with letters sent to their parents and schools. I clean any equipment as necessary, ready to be used again.
“I generally see around six children a day, and building relationships with the children and seeing them make progress is the part of my job that I enjoy the most.
“If you’d like to become an AHP, you need to care about the people you are working with. You need good communication skills as you will be mixing with lots of different professionals and patients from all walks of life. If you enjoy working with children and want to make a difference, come and join us.”Rachel Hills
“My role involves supporting people with communication and dysphagia – difficulties with eating, drinking and swallowing. I often work with people who are experiencing neurological illness, for example Stroke, Dementia, Parkinsons, Multiple Sclerosis, Motor Neurone Disease.
“Each day is different – I’m often out and about, going to see patients either in their own home, a nursing home, hospice, or other community or care setting. I provide therapy, resources and advice, and often work with the patient alongside their family or support staff. Some days I may provide training or attend meetings to develop new therapy initiatives or strategies.
“I love meeting new people; patients, families, my colleagues. I often feel inspired by the humour and bravery shown by our patients, sometimes in the most challenging and difficult of circumstances. I really enjoy the variety of the job and the fact that no day is ever the same.
“If you want to work with people and really make a difference to their lives then this is a great way to achieve your ambition. While often emotionally and physically demanding, being an AHP is a rewarding and fulfilling career.”
“On a typical day when I have children and young people to see, I will check notes and gather activities for their sessions, and then set off to schools and clinics.
“Because I’m a specialist for stammering within children’s speech and language therapy, I have my own caseload of young people who tend to have quite complex difficulties and are spread across the city, so coordination of my diary to try and limit time spent in the car is vital.
“My favourite part of the job is seeing the children and young people that I work with. They’re often an inspiration to me in the way that they cope with a severe stammer, which can affect every spoken utterance. Knowing what you want to say and not being able to say it can have such a huge impact, particularly in the teenage years where life is generally difficult enough already. My job involves a great deal of support not only for gaining fluency of speech but also for maintaining mental health and wellbeing. I love this aspect of my job.
“I also enjoy supporting other therapists with children on their caseloads by doing joint visits and helping families and schools better understand stammering and how they can help individuals. As a team of professionals, the Children’s Speech and Language service has a huge range of skills and expertise and my colleagues are extremely supportive and really good to work with.”
“While based in an office, I work in the community, visiting people in their own homes or care home settings. I usually have 1 – 3 visits per day, depending on when clients are available, the complexity of the visit and how long it may take.
“I may have a visit in the morning to undertake an assessment, or follow up from a previous visit. The person may have difficulties carrying out daily activities, such as personal care, or difficulties accessing facilities in their home. I observe and assess how the person is managing the activity and discuss goals and interventions to help them to achieve this more easily. I may have to order equipment to aid their independence, and complete paperwork such as applications for adaptations to the person’s house. I may also have to liaise with other professionals regarding the person’s needs, i.e. physiotherapists, nurses, GPs, social workers, and housing officers.
“I enjoy seeing people in their home environment, building a rapport with the client and their family. Being a health care professional is very challenging but rewarding.”
“I run the Falls balance and stability group and caseload, as well as the intermediate and rehab caseloads. All of my visits are community based, mainly in people’s homes, or in residential or care homes. No two days are the same.
“It’s a very diverse team and I feel we really make a difference to people’s lives, especially enabling them to stay at home at a time of crisis or acute illness.
“If you really want to help people continue to keep or to improve their quality of life whilst experiencing physical, mental, social or a combination of these problems, then you should consider becoming an AHP.”
“I am lead for a team of physiotherapists with the area of intermediate care and community rehab.
“A typical day for me involves managing emails, sickness and annual leave, recruiting staff, triaging referrals, and visiting patients (typically within four hours of referral.
“I put services and equipment in place to enable people to stay at home, order same day delivery of beds and mattresses and, liaising with nursing, medical staff and social services, I set up rapid care service to help for up to 7 days.
“I enjoy the variety of work and people that I see, and seeing them improve after seeing a therapist, managing tasks that they may not have achieved for a while due to ill health.”
“I’m the lead therapist for the Stroke Rehabilitation Team, working with stroke patients to promote their independence and quality of life.
“I take patients to the gym to work on their balance, movement and mobility and practice functional activities such as getting dressed, making a drink and getting in and out of a car.
“I attend progress meetings with the patient, their family and other health professionals to discuss their goals, their progress so far and to plan their discharge from hospital.
“I really enjoy supporting people to realise their potential after suffering a life-changing illness, problem solving the best way we can to help them to progress and return home.
“If you’d like to become an AHP, gain as much experience as you can beforehand through work experience or volunteering. This will help you gain a place on training programmes, boost your confidence and help you to identify which area you would like to train in.”
“My role as a clinician is to assess any kind of biomechanical deficit and provide an external device that will fill that deficit. We deal with anything from helmets for the protection of craniectomy sites to splints to maintain a toe position, and everything in between.
“We work with all ages, from newborn to end of life, as both an outpatient and inpatient service, complete domiciliary visits and run clinics and specialist schools.
“We see people with a wide range of conditions and issues – each day is varied as to the type of person and issue we encounter – which makes life very interesting.
“When patients come to clinic there is a detailed discussion about them and their issues. We decide on a plan of action – this could involve taking a set of measurements, a drawing or draft, a cast or a moulding – and have an item made to order or taken from stock. We then fit this device to the individual. A big part of our role is fine-tuning a device to be optimal in fit and function, such as contouring a knee brace to the shape of the leg to ensure comfort and that it stays in place. We give advice on monitoring and checking the effectiveness of any device and review the items we supply to ensure that all parties are happy with the outcomes.
“I enjoy working alongside other AHPs with patients, as part of a team that looks holistically at a set of issues and works towards a common, achievable goal.
“If you’re looking for a career that lets you be involved in helping an individual or family realise their potential, then being an AHP is ideal. You get to work with an incredible array of talented professionals where everybody’s input is valued. The team approach is the gold standard for patient care, and AHPs have been at the forefront of this.”
“My role requires me to deliver a portfolio of National Institute of Health Research studies, and I cover all clinical areas delivered by Livewell Southwest.
“My days vary – I can be doing study specific activities such as screening for patients, completing assessments using my occupational therapy skills, taking bloods, or more managerial activities such as preparing reports, attending operational and strategic level meetings, or travelling to conferences.
“The variety of studies themselves are challenges, and I never quite know what is going to come along next. I’m using and developing my occupational therapy skills in an exciting environment, knowing that my work with patients is going to help improve future care and bring benefits to all.
If you’re considering becoming an AHP, be prepared to be open and challenge yourself. You will always be learning and developing yourself as a person and professional. As an AHP, you will have a truly rewarding career.”
“I work in the Adult Learning Disabilities service as a clinical psychologist. A typical day will start with me checking emails – these could be about service users, service issues or service development.
“I will usually have two to three one to one sessions with someone with a learning disability in a day. I work generally so I may have a session with someone experiencing anxiety or depression, as well as longer sessions for people who have experienced trauma. I may also meet with staff teams around supporting behaviour that challenges. I could be holding a clinic session conducting an assessment of cognitive ability or dementia.
“Around these appointments I will be writing up the sessions, updating medical records where necessary and conducting risk assessments, or writing up a recent assessment.
“Typically I’ll spend an hour supervising a trainee clinical psychologist, honorary assistant, support worker, or member of the multidisciplinary team (MDT).
“I enjoy working with MDT colleagues, sharing ideas and formulations. I enjoy the role I play in people’s recovery from mental health conditions. I also enjoy investigating and piecing together information to inform a thorough assessment of a person’s cognitive ability, current difficulty, or memory difficulties.
“I enjoy the sense of satisfaction I get in achieving positive change in the way our service is delivered.”
Dr Joanne Porter
“My typical day starts at 9am with the allocation meeting where the previous day’s activity is reviewed and new requests for help are allocated. Each team member has a caseload of clients, but clients can be moved to a more appropriate member as they needs change. Handover and pick up of case notes follows.
“At around 9:45am I have a caseload review. A GP has phoned concerned about an elderly patient. He is the main carer for his wife and he has a chest infection and affecting his mobility. I go with an occupational therapist go straight to the house, where the couple are both in bed, and carry out routine checks including blood pressure, temperature, pulse and oxygen levels.
“There is a package of care in place for the wife, but not the husband and it’s clear he isn’t well enough to look after her. We arrange to transfer the care package to the husband, and move his wife to a care home temporarily. A quick phone call establishes there is a place for her, and the OT organises an ambulance to get her there.
“The carers continue to visit as usual, helping the husband with personal care, meals and medication instead of the wife. I report back to the GP on what has happened, and arrange for support workers to call the next day to repeat his observations. Once the chest infection clears up, the wife will return homed to be looked after by the carers and her husband.
“By 12.15pm I am on my way to see an elderly man who has discharged himself from hospital. He is a diabetic, has a leg ulcer and sepsis. The district nurse has alerted the community crisis response team. She went to see him when she got an alert from hospital that he’d left and was concerned as he couldn’t stand unaided and there was no care in place. I take a physiotherapist with me. Initial tests established that he didn’t need to be in hospital but he needed some care. He refused an interim care home place but agreed to have carers going in.
“I arranged for a hospital bed, a commode on wheels and a standing aid to be delivered that day, and agreed that two carers would visit four times every day, as well as the district nurse visits twice a day. He also has an alarm button he can use to call an ambulance. Later that day, an OT and physio went round to check the equipment and make sure the bed was in place. Social workers will then review the case.
“At 3.30pm I go out with a social worker to see an elderly lady whose friend has called to say she worried the patient is deteriorating. The lady is known to the team, and to St Luke’s Hospice, and I feel that it’s time to hand over to the end of life care team. The lady wants to stay at home, so a hospital bed is delivered and two carers will attend four times a day. I hand over to the end of life specialist nurses who will work alongside the St Luke’s Hospice team which manages the medical care.
“What I love about my role is the variety of the day, with unplanned visits. Responding to patients at home and being able to ensure their safety at home or care home instead of going to hospital when it is not necessary.
“I enjoy being part of an MDT including OT, physio’s, social workers, support workers, mental health nurses and general nurses. I can utilise their skills and learn new skills from them. More recently, we have had the privilege of having access to a community geriatrician who can visit the patient with us or provide phone/written advice.”