Real-life story: Clare

Clare works as a specialist occupational therapist in a community learning disability team in the Aneurin Bevan Trust.  She loves her role, helping people with learning disabilities access the opportunities they want and need to be meaningfully involved in everyday life.

How I got into the role 

Over 10 years ago I was fortunate enough to have a college tutor who believed I had the skills to be an occupational therapist and recommended I explored this as a career choice, despite my not feeling confident in my academic skills. Following research into the profession, I felt this was the right path for me and I continued to pursue the career, studying at St Loye’s School of Health Sciences in Exeter.

The practice placements I undertook as part of my training to be an occupational therapist helped to identify my passion for working with people with a learning disability and this interest continued once I qualified. Since qualifying, my posts to date have predominantly been in learning disability settings.

What I do 

My work is really varied. It can involve assessment of a person’s skills and abilities, environment, or support needs; for example, assessing specialist seating requirements or daily living skills. Our interventions aim to support people to be involved as much as possible in their own lives and to remove barriers to participation. For example, we look at appropriate activities to engage and stimulate people whatever their abilities, opportunities to improve skills for independent living, and ways to make everyday activities safer or easier using equipment or techniques. Our role also includes supporting families and support staff to engage the individual. We work with various agencies to give the best care and consider ways to encourage a person’s independence and quality of life.

The best bits 

I find it such a varied area to work in and you can have a big impact on an individual’s life. It is rewarding to support individuals to become more independent and confident, and to enable them to reach their full potential to lead independent, healthy, and active lives – whether this is through providing equipment, assessing their living environment and daily living skills, looking at seating and travel needs, or suggesting ways to encourage engagement in meaningful activity. It’s a fulfilling experience and I’m so privileged to work with this group of people.