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Spotlight On An Expert: June 2024

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Introducing Sandy Exon, Occupational Therapist & Expert Witness...

My interest in Occupational Therapy started after I left school and decided to do some volunteering. I was a live in carer for a lady who had Multiple
Sclerosis and my mentor was an Occupational Therapist – it was the first time I had an understanding of what this profession entailed. Having lived
with deafness and the impact of this, I was always advocating independence, and this career seemed fitting with my ethos.
I qualified in 1998 and secured a basic grade rotational post within an acute trust, so I could obtain knowledge and skills working in different medical
settings and further understand the impact illness has on function and daily well-being.

I continued to develop this within another acute trust for a couple more years as a senior occupational therapist, where I also had the opportunity to do a community rehabilitation rotation – this was where I found my specialty and contributes to where I am today.

Relocation in 2001 to Bristol gave me the opportunity to develop skills working in the community within social care and then a primary care trust. Within that I gained experience with specialist equipment, manual handling, posture and seating, housing adaptations and establishing levels of care an individual would require. A secondment opportunity arose in a local rehabilitation unit, which led to 12 years of specialising in this field and now I currently work as a Therapy Team Lead.

I had been interested in going into the private sector for a few years but just lacked belief I could write such reports!!! I had a brief insight into one private case and then decided I felt more comfortable working for an organisation where I could access support and training, to enable safe and professional practice. I put in an application to Somek and Associates in 2022 and there have been no regrets! It was the challenge and change that I needed.

It was a steep learning curve following the initial training and many hours of sleep lost, as I adjusted from years of working in the public sector where resources are limited, to being able to think holistically and creatively how an individual’s needs could be met longer term. Support from my
trainer, Barbara, was second to none with the addition that we came from a similar career background, and without her I would not have progressed and gained the confidence that I have today.

I feel my report writing skills and use of written English has hugely improved. I have a high regard for the reports team as they enable all the administration to be produced at high standards and are very efficient. This continues with each case that I write – I have done 14 reports to date and new cases are continuously being booked in. I generally opt for cases that include trauma/orthopaedics, amputees, cardiac, respiratory, those with stomas, care of the elderly and sensory loss.

I work Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays as Therapy Team Lead within the NHS. I use Tuesdays and Fridays for Somek work. I enjoy the flexibility this brings, as I can choose the type of case and frequency of new assessments. There are many transferable skills between both jobs and I value having past clinical experience. Both jobs work well together. Somek has a system well set up with all the support, expertise and knowledge required to deliver the expert witness role.

On a personal note, I am often seen with my dog, Jess. She supports me with sound work due to my hearing loss, and although approaching 12 this year, continues to maintain her youth as a very spritely spaniel. She has worked alongside me at work for the last 10 years and I am hoping she has another year left before retiring from her assistance role. She will then remain with myself and the family!!! I also have a campervan and have a love for the outdoors so I am often out walking, exploring and just being! I also go to the gym and enjoy spas, arts and theatre. I have two boys (21 and 18) who are now finding their own feet; so for me, it’s embracing new opportunities and discoveries.

If Sandy's story has left you feeling inspired and eager to find out more about expert witness work, visit our recruitment pages here.