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Spotlight On An Expert

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Spotlight On An Expert

Introducing Claire Hankin, Occupational Therapist & Associate Trainer

I knew from a very young age that I wanted to look after and help people. I used to run up to my grandad Harry and plonk myself on his knee when I was about seven or eight years old. Sadly, after three strokes in his late fifties, he had very severe dysphasia. We had a special bond though, and I was the only grandchild who did not shy away from him. I remember he made strange noises and didn’t realise at the time; it was just his way of communicating. I chatted away for hours to him and although he did not say much, I knew he understood me. I remember he used to laugh and cry at the same time out of frustration. I remember helping my Nanna Billie feed him his dinner and watched intently when she helped to walk him to the bathroom. I was devastated when he passed away aged 66.

Fast forward a few years and after school, I did a B-Tec National Diploma in Health and Social care. My first job, aged 18, was as a support worker at Meldreth Manor School working for 16–19-year-olds with Cerebral Palsy. We got to work alongside the teachers, physiotherapists or nurses during the week. This was so much fun and also my first experience of promoting normal movement, postural seating, setting up nasal gastric feeds and teaching independent living skills.

Following my job at Meldreth Manor School, I worked in a respite care home for children with learning difficulties, for three years, for social services. It was at this point that I realised that I wanted to do a degree and become an occupational therapist. I got access on to the Occupational Therapist course at Coventry University after doing an A level in Psychology. After I qualified, I worked at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge, for many years from 2001 until 2013. I started as a band 5 on rotation in many clinical areas and worked my way up to a Band 7 team leader in general surgery, oncology and amputees. Addenbrookes Hospital gave me a wonderful experience and foundation to my career.

By the time I left Addenbrookes Hospital, I had relocated to Essex and had two small children. I worked at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford on colorectal and vascular surgical wards. I took a bit of a breather from the NHS between 2016 and 2019, although I did a little bank work and some work for The OT Practice.

In 2019, I started working for the Intermediate Care team in Cambridge. I was assessing and treating people who had just come out of hospital. They would receive intermediate care for approximately four to six weeks. I was responsible for increasing independence and reducing the reliance on care.

In February 2020, I started my current job with the NHS community occupational therapy service. My clinical job is challenging and involves assessing and providing interventions for people aged 18 to over 100 years, including those who require end of life care. I undertake complex moving and handling assessments, equipment provision, rehabilitation, falls assessments, major and minor adaptations including stair rails, grab rails, level access showers, wash dry toilets, automatic door openers and stairlifts. I have also been involved in assessing for environmental controls. This area fascinates me, as technology is so advanced these days and can make such a difference to people’s lives.

I love the fact that I can go to someone's house and I don't know what's behind the door. Every day is so different. People are so individual regarding their needs, wishes, volition and the way that their lives are affected through injury and disability.

I very much enjoy supervising students and taking people out with me for work shadow days. It's great to be able to promote the profession to others. I'm proud to be an occupational therapist.

I have a busy homelife too. I have 2 boys, aged 11 and 13. I am a practical person and in my spare time, I enjoy undertaking various DIY projects such as painting, decorating, boxing in pipes and making things. My biggest achievement to date involves digging up and relaying a patio!

I enjoy walking and last summer I hiked up Snowdon Mountain with my boys. I also enjoy going out to places of interest, theatre, spas, walks along the beach or in the countryside. I also love cycling and I like to keep fit especially on my exercise bike. It’s a great way to switch off.

I started working for Somek and Associates as an expert witness in January 2016. I remember my first assessment as if it was yesterday. Looking back, it was a huge learning curve but incredibly challenging, interesting and rewarding. I have written many care and occupational therapy reports for Somek and Associates since then, with the guidance and support of very knowledgeable and patient trainers!

When the opportunity to become an associate trainer, myself came up, I welcomed it with open arms. Not only is Somek and Associates a wonderful company to be part of, I feel very privileged to be able to pass on my knowledge and skills to help others write their expert reports.

We are looking for occupational therapists across all areas of specialism. To find out more about becoming an expert witness why not watch our showreel video here.