Somek & Associates' Jessica Thurston, Head of Medico-legal Operations and...
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BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy
I qualified as an Occupational Therapist in 2008 and since 2016 I have been working as an Associate Senior Rehabilitation Occupational Therapist.
My previous experience includes being employed as a senior OT for a large local authority for 8 years. This involved assessing clients with complex physical disabilities for appropriate specialist equipment and major adaptations. Part of my role was to support social workers in assessment for appropriate care packages, which included clients with complex spinal injuries or neurological disorders.
I have also worked as a specialist learning disability OT in a social services team. My duties included assessment and recommendations for care and equipment for clients with profound multiple learning disabilities. In addition to this I am very familiar with complex care packages and ensuring clients with complex and profound learning disabilities are assessed for the correct level of support and care.
In addition, I have gained experience as a specialist advisor to the CQC and have been involved in several large inspections. This has highlighted to me the importance of best practice and clinical governance.
Currently, in my capacity as an associate senior occupational therapist, I undertake initial needs assessments on a joint or single instruction basis and provide rehabilitation for clients who have sustained severe and complex orthopaedic injuries and mild to severe brain injuries. I have also undertaken some work with clients experiencing mental health difficulties and alcohol and drug misuse. Additionally, there may also be a requirement to provide case management to some of the clients.
Within this role, I co-ordinate the needs of the clients to ensure a multi-disciplinary approach, particularly with clients who have experienced a traumatic event leading to acquired brain injury or orthopaedic injuries.
I adopt a personalised approach to my work as an associate senior OT and identify the realistic goals and needs of my clients. This enables me to develop bespoke programmes to aid their rehabilitation, for example; pain and fatigue management programmes. I am very familiar with all standardised assessment tools carried out by OTs, physiotherapists and psychologists. By being able to build a good rapport with my clients I am able to support them with their personal goals like returning to work or accessing leisure pursuits. Other aspects of my role include development of care plans, identifying complex and simple equipment and undergoing cognitive rehabilitation.
I accept instructions from both claimant and defendant solicitors and insurers. I have undergone formal training in the medico-legal process and am fully aware of my responsibilities under Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) pertaining to expert witnesses.