Real-life story: Caroline

Caroline has worked as an occupational therapist since graduating from Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh in 2004. Caroline began her undergraduate course immediately after completing her A Levels knowing she wanted to enter a vocational career and one that involved supporting and interacting with others in the health care field. 

The last 12 years of her career have been spent specialising in the fascinating field of adult community learning disabilities, which she loves as no two days are the same.

How I got into the role

I initially began my career working within older people’s care and stroke rehabilitation in Edinburgh.  I then moved to a rotational post in London, moving to a different work area every 6 months. Whilst I was there community learning disability was added to the rotation. I volunteered to try it out as something totally new, completing two consecutive rotations (before letting somebody else have a go!) and the rest is history!

What I do

The role of the occupational therapist in adult learning disabilities is like no other area I have worked in before. It really does provide experience and opportunities to gain skills and knowledge in just about every area you could imagine – from complex physical health, mental health, autism, dementia, falls, equipment and assistive technology and of course learning disabilities which in itself varies from mild to severe and everything in-between! There is a wealth of experience to be had!

I support adults with learning disabilities to achieve optimum independence in their daily living to include personal care, domestic tasks, work and leisure opportunities. This can include the consideration of any sensory processing issues that may impact them as well as their learning disability, physical and mental health. 

The best bits

Working in learning disability services as an occupational therapist has given me a wealth of learning experiences and developed both my personal and professional skills enormously over the years.  It has been a pleasure to support some of the most vulnerable members of our society and be part of a process of much needed and long overdue positive change in their lives.

Alongside the clients we support are the relationships built with colleagues. You really do meet some of the most devoted, enthusiastic, passionate professionals and advocates for people with learning disabilities with mountains of knowledge and skills to share and benefit from. Plus, they are generally lots of fun!

It’s a great area to work in.