Where are you from?
I was born and lived my childhood years in Accrington, the home of Accrington Stanley! I moved ‘down the road’ to Great Harwood when I married in 1985. This base offers excellent access to the motorway network for my position with RfI and the areas the company covers across the north of England.
Where did you study?
I attended school in Accrington up to the completion of my ‘O’ levels. How old am I?! I then moved to Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar school in Blackburn for my A-levels. QEGS was a male only bastion when I commenced but I was ‘admitted’ in the second intake of girls in 1978 and thoroughly enjoyed the 25:1 ratio of boys to girls! I did study hard though too!
I studied OT at Salford School of Technology as it was then in 1980 straight from A-level completion. I qualified as an OT in 1983.
Where did you work previously?
My first job was a rotational position in the Blackburn area which was excellent in terms of the basic experience offered to a newly qualified OT across the areas of stroke, rheumatology, orthopaedics, burns, paediatrics and mental health. From this post and my student placement experience I was keen to pursue a post in mental health which I held for 12 years.
Entirely based on my own childcare requirement, I was given an opportunity to move into a community paediatric position in 1996 on a term-time only contract. This was based in Blackburn and then moved to Accrington, which is where I met Mark in 2008. I had a mixed clinical and management role where I managed the preschool team up to 2013. At this time, due to part-time NHS working, I worked several hours a week for RfI in its infancy.
In 2013 I gained a team coordinator position following NHS restructure and managed an integrated therapies team until my retirement from the NHS and my commencement with RfI.
It seems rather bizarre to note 36 years of a career in 3 paragraphs!
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
The knowledge that I can make a difference. Make a difference to clients and their families and assist to add
value to their lives. This is in terms of listening to their anxieties, concerns and ambitions and then spending quality time listening, planning and co-working with them to plan their rehabilitation and recovery. This may be through strategies and graded activities or through the provision of pieces of equipment which can enhance independence. And everything OTs do in-between!
The RFI team is fabulous, hardworking and encouraging and that too assists me to get my ‘leg out of bed’ each working morning.
What’s an average day look like for you?
An average day does not exist in the life of a RfI OT and that’s why I enjoy the job so much. There is so much variety, so much challenge and stimulation. Aspects of my day may include:
- assessment of ability and areas of difficulties
- report collation and discussion
- goal and target setting with the client and family
- therapy sessions, in the home and in the community
- school assessments and therapy advice to teaching and support staff
- community activity research and participation
- co-working at multi-disciplinary meetings
- problem solving with equipment reps, professionals and families
- client budgeting and money management
- training of fellow professionals and family members
- adaptations minor to major
- equipment assessments
- staff support and supervision
- service development and networking
What’s been the single best moment of your career?
I’ve had a lot of great moments in my career which are specifically recovery or achievement based for my clients/patients. But possibly the best moment for me personally/professionally was when I secured a management position in 2013 following an arduous interview process. The knowledge that, from interview and previous performance indicators, I was deemed as capable and skilled at leading a large new therapy team into a new service line, was an accolade for me. It was a challenge I enjoyed, assisting to nurture and develop a team into a cohesive and high performing group of professionals.
If you didn’t do this job – what would you do?
Professionally I have only ever wanted to work in a caring profession. From 16 I delighted my parents as my career selection decision making was very narrow! The choice was between physiotherapy, speech and language or OT. I chose OT because it was holistic. OT considers the person as a whole AND……it requires an explanation! No one in the 80s knew what OTs did. Its slightly less necessary to explain now but I love the fact that the enigmatic aspect of OT requires a conversation which engages, informs and enthuses the listener.
However, as someone now who has been an OT practitioner for all of her working life, I’d LOVE to be an interior designer. That’s surprised you hasn’t it? I may have left it a tad late but it’s an aspiration I will never try to achieve, just a whim!
Find out more about Jo in her CV here.