Occupational Therapy Awareness Week 2022
Date: 08 November 2022
Thanks to transferable skills, Johanna has hit the ground running with her new role in Occupational Therapy
For over 30 years, Johanna Fletcher has been flying around the world as part of the flight crew for long haul flights with British Airways (BA). Shortly after the pandemic, Johanna decided to help with the vaccination effort, and then go into Occupational Therapy as an assistant here at The Walton Centre.
Johanna said: “Over my career as cabin crew I travelled the globe, helping people on board and support them through long journeys in the air. The COVID-19 pandemic was an extraordinary few years with BA. I was involved in a lot of the commercial flights which were tasked with freighting Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to countries that needed it. It was eerie being on empty flights!
“When lockdown was beginning to ease, I left BA through redundancy and wanted to continue with the support efforts to help people through the pandemic. I trained as a vaccinator and helped at the local hub. Shortly after that I joined a team that went into nursing homes to give the vaccine to the elderly and vulnerable people. It was an amazing experience and the sense of teamwork and making a difference I got from this made me consider a career in the NHS caring for people.
“I saw the job advert for an Occupational Therapy Assistant at The Walton Centre and asked my sister-in-law, who works in healthcare, her thoughts on my trying to get into a completely different industry. She told me to go for it because I had so many transferable skills that I could apply to the role. I’d never thought of my experience with BA in that way, but during my career I was constantly supporting passengers when they fell ill on flights and underwent enhanced medical training to cope with these situations. When you were in the air you had to think on your feet and I think this helped in applying.
“I was so happy to get the call that I’d been successful! I’ve been in the role since July (2022) and it’s been a rollercoaster so far. There’s lots to learn and the patient support can be intense, but I know this is where I belong. The therapies team has embraced and challenged me and I already feel like a valued part of the team because of it.
“I have done lot of work with Dream Flight, a charity which takes terminally ill children to Disneyland Florida and I’m confident that my combined skills from therapies and BA will allow me to support them on their next trip to America next year.”
To find out more about careers at The Walton Centre, go to: https://www.thewaltoncentre.nhs.uk/careers/
What is Occupational Therapy?
An Occupational Therapist helps people of all ages overcome challenges completing everyday tasks or activities – what we call ‘occupations’.
Occupational Therapists see beyond diagnoses and limitations to hopes and aspirations. They look at relationships between the activities you do every day – your occupations – alongside the challenges you face and your environment. Then they create a plan of goals and adjustments, targeted at achieving a specific set of activities. The plan is practical, realistic and personal to you as an individual, to help you achieve the breakthroughs you need to elevate your everyday life.
This support can give people a renewed sense of purpose. It can also open up new opportunities and change the way people feel about the future. (RCOT,2022)
Occupational Therapy and Neuromuscular Conditions
Here at The Walton Centre, there are two Occupational Therapists (Rebecca and Michelle below) that work with patients who have a neuromuscular condition.
For the past eight years, we have developed an innovative occupational therapy service specifically for people living with neuromuscular conditions. Currently, we are the only Occupational Therapists in the UK dedicated to working with adults with these types of conditions in an outpatient setting.
We aim to to provide practical support to enable a person to maintain their independence and overcome any barriers that prevent them from doing the activities (occupations) that matter to them. The goal is for the person to feel empowered to manage their neuromuscular condition.
Rebecca Flesher – Occupational Therapist at The Walton Centre since 2015
Why did you want to be an Occupational Therapist (OT)?
I always knew I wanted to help people, OT lets you do this in a holistic way. OT helps the person “to live not exist”.
What is the best part of your job?
Working with a person with a long term neurological condition has a different approach, it challenges you to think outside the box with the same aim - participation in meaningful occupations.
Would you recommend being an Occupational Therapist?
100%! Being an Occupational Therapist provides you with skills and knowledge that are transferable and broad. You can work in many different settings.
Michelle Ennis - Occupational Therapist at The Walton Centre since 2012
Why did you want to be an Occupational Therapist?
I always knew I wanted to work in healthcare, and then I learnt about OT and how we use crafts and other activities for rehabilitation - it felt like my dream job! Even though using crafts is not how my OT career developed - I am still so glad I chose to be an OT and 30 years on cannot imagine a better job for me.
Three words to best describe the role of an Occupational Therapist?
What is most rewarding part of your job?
The element of my job that I find the most rewarding is working with people to really find out what activities (occupations) mean to them. which activities and tasks are important to them? What is the value of these activities? My particular passion is supporting people to overcome challenges to enter the workplace or maintain their work roles.
We value and require the input from community services in order to effectively manage our patients. If you would like further information on our service, please contact us on 0151-556-3741.
For Occupational Therapy Awareness Week 2022, we're highlighting some of our amazing Occupational Therapy team and the important work they do for patients at The Walton Centre.