Q & A with… Occupational Therapist – Steph Cole

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This month we are taking a closer look at the career of Occupational Therapist Steph Cole, finding out what she loves the most about her role with RfI…

1. Where are you from?
I’m originally from Burnley, I currently live on the Lancashire/Yorkshire border but I’m just about to move home and will be living in Yorkshire in the next few weeks – I can’t wait! This will make travel a little easier as most of my clients are based in Yorkshire.

2. Where did you study?
I studied at the University of Cumbria, (or Lancaster as it was called then!)

3. Where did you work previously?
I went straight from school to college and from there to university. I always knew what I wanted to do, and I had a passion for helping people through occupational therapy, knowing I can be instrumental in people’s rehabilitation and improving their independence is hugely rewarding to me.

I qualified in 2006 and went straight into a job with the NHS in Hyndburn and the Ribble Valley Trust. I started my practice in community adult rehabilitation and then went on to working with children via the paediatric team, this is where I met Mark (fellow occupational therapist and now director of Rehab for Independence!)

I stayed in the paediatric team for seven years before beginning to do some independent work for Rehab for Independence. I later left the NHS and began to work full time with Mark and the team at Rehab for Independence. I haven’t looked back, I love my job and the clients I treat and have now been here five years.

4. What gets you out of bed in the morning?
I genuinely enjoy my job and look forward to going to work, I just couldn’t do it if I didn’t!
I work with a great team of people, clients and families and this makes the job so enjoyable. I love seeing clients achieving their goals and I get great satisfaction from working with them on every step of progress, being able to be a part of that is so rewarding.

5. What’s an average day look like for you?
Every day can be very different. My week can include:

  • collaborative multidisciplinary meetings
  • therapy sessions – dog walking at rescue centre, travel training, kitchen and household activities, shopping and swimming
  • supporting in education, school college or university, assisting in applications for appropriate placements, documenting /recording work
  • money management
  • adaptation meetings
  • equipment assessments
  • supporting other therapist via my clinical lead role, offering supervision and support
  • assisting the wider Rehab for Independence team in service development and improvements for the benefits of the clients

6. What’s been the single best moment of your career?
This is a tough one, but I’d have to say it’s been my move into the private sector and working for Rehab for Independence. This move massively increased the opportunities that I could give to my clients and ultimately increased the positive difference we are able to make to their lives and independence.
One of my first visits was assessing and recommending a powered chair for a child, they had previously been reliant on others to push them around in manual chair. Seeing them in the chair and watching them ‘light up’ being able to access independent mobility was amazing. They could play with friends in the playground, go to their own bedroom, choose which shop they wanted to go in – I’ll never forget that.

7. If you didn’t do this job – what would you do?
My other job is being a mummy and I’m about to be even busier as I’m preparing for maternity leave! I’m happy combining my role as an occupational therapist and that of being a mum.

Find out more about Steph here

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