JOBS: Keeping the Nation in Full Working Order; GETTING INTO... OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY

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NAME: ABBI PARKER AGE: 28PERSONAL: Abbi has always had an interest in the medical profession and while she was growing up she wanted to be a nurse.

When she was 15, her father was involved in an accident and needed the help of an occupational therapist to help him get back to work.

Abbi found the process fascinating and decided to pursue it as a career. After doing well in her GCSEs and A Levels, she went on to study for a degree in occupational therapy.

Since graduating, Abbi has found a job as an occupational therapist and works mainly with the elderly

JOB DESCRIPTION: Occupational therapists help people with a disability, or physical or mental health problems, to live as independently as possible.

They assess their clients' skills and needs before deciding what treatment they require. Often, they will help clients to carry out simple tasks that most people take for granted, such as washing and dressing.

Sometimes this is achieved by helping the client to make small changes to their lifestyle. They may, for example, show someone with arthritis how to carry out everyday tasks without putting too much pressure on their joints.

It can also involve technological solutions, such as voice activation for a computer.

As well as finding practical solutions to help clients in their day-to-day lives, they are also involved in getting people back to work following an accident or illness.

Leisure activities are also important and, wherever possible, occupational therapists will encourage people to continue hobbies they enjoyed before they came ill - or to take up new past-times.

Occupational therapists usually offer support to clients as well. This could include everything from helping a disabled youngster to cope with teasing at school or rebuilding the confidence of someone who has been suffering from depression.

An occupational therapist will regularly review the client's progress and decide if any changes need to be made to the treatment plan.

Therapists work with a range of other professionals, including doctors, nurses, psychologists, physiotherapists, speech and language therapists, teachers and social workers. They also offer advice and support to clients' families, carers and employers.

The majority of occupational therapists work in the NHS or the social services departments of local authorities, but other employers include school and education centres, prisons, health and day care centres, industrial and commercial organisations, charities and residential and nursing homes

SKILLS AND PERSONALITY: Occupational therapists need to be able to relate to people from a variety of different backgrounds. They need excellent communication skills and should be good at motivating people - if a client finds a task difficult or frustrating, the occupational therapist needs to make sure they don't become discouraged and give up. …