First appeared in The OT Magazine issue 24, September/October 2018

Jennifer Evans has been qualified for around two and a half years having studied at Glasgow Caledonian University and has been in her current role since qualifying, working as a Band 5 Occupational Therapist on a 16 bedded male acute mental health ward.

What is your current role?

I am a Band 5 occupational therapist on a 16 bedded male acute mental health ward. There is a blanket referral procedure and we use the MOHO priority checklist to identify need for OT input. My responsibilities include providing assessment for ongoing care and housing needs. I provide acute interventions to support improvements in functioning. This is delivered in a combination of 1:1 sessions and through a group timetable which is provided in collaboration with the two other acute wards in the hospital and the wider AHP team which includes AHP assistants and activity coordinators.

 Describe a typical day…

I always tell people there is no typical day in mental health, every day is different! However we try to maintain structure as much as we can. I start by reading emails and case notes from the previous day, then go onto the ward to discuss daily planning with patients and AHP assistant to plan our day. We then have a report out task meeting, which is an MDT discussion about daily tasks for each patient. I then use my clinical time to provide assessments and interventions. We assess basic ADL skills (cooking and personal care), process skills and road safety for example and provide interventions on routine and structure, coping skills, and social skills.

Our group programme includes a brunch cooking session for assessment and intervention purposes, ‘Mental Health Men’s Shed’ for social, peer support. We have complementary therapies where we provide Indian head massages or arm and hand massage, which is a very popular group, and cognitive based groups called our ‘Lego Therapy and Mind Gym’ where we work on process skills. We review our timetable weekly and adjust this responding to the client group and need.

What’s the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is making a difference to someone no matter how small. I love the variety of my role and the privilege of working with people who are going through some of the worst times of their lives.

What’s the hardest part of your job?

The hardest part of my job is working with people who are so poorly they can struggle to engage with us. It can be hard trying to find something that can motivate someone and bring them out of their mental health experience even if only for a few moments.