Case studies

Elizabeth is an Occupational Therapist on the Children's and Teenage Oncology Unit at the Great North Children's Hospital

Elizabeth | Occupational Therapist

Children's and Teenage Oncology Unit

".. individualised care is challenging but essential and makes a difference..."

Working as part of a team, I treat children and teenagers from a few months to nineteen years old, with a cancer diagnosis.

Occupational Therapy (OT) gives opportunities to develop skills that may be limited by long stays in hospital such as socialising with peers and having different sensory experiences; or to retain or regain skills that are lost as a result of the disease, or treatment, such as fine motor skills and functional mobility - using age appropriate games, handwriting, provision of equipment or splinting.

Home and school visits are part of the job for re-integration to school and for ergonomic and equipment advice; and often at end of life care, to be able, comfortable and safe at home.

I attend several weekly multi-disciplinary meetings and handovers, including a specific psycho-social ward round. There is a strong culture of debriefing but also planning ahead for the specific needs of each patient to help the process of complex and long treatment protocols. Within this team and the OT team there is also regular teaching, journal clubs, presentations and feedback from courses and opportunities to teach OT, medical, nursing and other allied health professional students.

What you love about your job?

That every day is different; that every patient is different; that individualised care is challenging but essential and makes a difference for each person to be able to participate in everyday activities. That the whole team wants the patient to get better and to have the best treatment and experience as is possible, resulting in respect for each other’s skills and components that each patient requires.

I love that OT can be the difference between someone being able to do something or not - such as hold their pen for school, getting into the bath, or having the confidence to go out in their wheelchair.

What has been your proudest moment so far?

When the mother of a patient called to tell me that it was dress up as a superhero day at school and their child had gone as an Occupational Therapist.

Any tips for finding a job that you love?

Talk to people doing a job that you think that you would like, even if there are no current vacancies; but also look at jobs that you might not consider, as very often an opportunity may be available in a speciality that you didn't think was for you until you find out more about it.

Tell us about any travel and / or unusual aspects of the job

I regularly travel throughout the North East and Cumbria to see patients at home and/or at school - allowing a smooth transition from hospital to home and school and handover to community OT colleagues as needed.

What are your usual working hours?

Monday - Friday, 0830-1630

What training is needed for your job?

Occupational Therapy qualification and then employment in a variety of settings to be able to have a wide range of transferable skills.

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