Mark is an occupational therapist in our neuro rehabilitation service. He works as part of a multi-disciplinary team to provide expert therapy and care for adults with disabilities as a result of an acquired brain injury from stroke, an accident or neurological illness.
“I’ve been working at QEF for 12 years now. Before that I worked in the printing industry, following an apprenticeship. When I was offered voluntary redundancy, I took it and it opened so many new, exciting doors for me!
I saw a job advert about becoming an occupational therapist, and the job sounded really good. So I arranged to complete a 9 month access course to get my A-Levels and then I got into Brunel University where I completed a 3-year degree in occupational therapy.
My Dad had motor neuron disease whilst I was growing up, and so we had our house adapted and he used equipment to keep him independent. He used a powered wheelchair whilst at home and I was used to seeing it in the playground. When I got old enough, I used to help wash, dress and transfer Dad, and from about 13 I was able to help lift him as well, so I grew up with occupational therapy at home but never knew what is was called.
It’s such a broad role at QEF, as there are so many different areas that I focus on, from assessing the level of independence a client has when they first come to NRS, to looking at their carry over functions. Ultimately, my role is to help people regain the skills they’ve lost such as preparing meals, accessing the local community and assisting clients with their transition home, whilst providing support to explore leisure activities and return to work opportunities.
Every day, my key focus is to help people get back to normality as much as possible by looking at what they need beyond the walls of our services and re-building their quality of life.
I’m with the clients every day which allows me to build a rapport with them, and experience all of their problems at the frontline. I get to know them, I assess their equipment needs and make recommendations, and can really help them gain a greater independence and quality of life as part of a multi-disciplinary team.
I think that we provide a truly unique service which is very different to working in hospitals, which is quite restricted in comparison. We aren’t limited to a ward, or a room which allows us to work closely on activities they enjoyed before they acquired a brain injury, to really get them to be as independent as they possibly can be. We have the freedom to do all sorts of activities with clients, such as music where we can write and record songs, play the drums, as well as creating arts and crafts. It’s a holistic way of working in a clinical environment.
In Spring 2020 we’ll be moving our service into the Care and Rehabilitation Centre, a new state-of- the-art centre just outside Leatherhead. Along with the fantastic facilities that this will offer, this will also enable us to explore using public transport to get to the local shops in Cobham and Leatherhead.