Alex Penfold on Youth Mental Health Day 2023: Insights from a Mental Health Nurse and...
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MSc Advanced Occupational Therapy, BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy
I qualified as an Occupational Therapist in 2009. I worked for 10 years in the NHS, including holding the post of Clinical Specialist OT in Major Trauma at Kings College Hospital and Clinical Specialist OT at the Lishman Unit, a specialist neurobehavioral rehabilitation unit, at the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust. I also held posts in the areas of acute neuro-rehabilitation, stroke rehabilitation, hands therapy, critical care and neurological outpatients. This gave me a very broad view of brain injury and the rehabilitation journey a client takes from the moment of their injury through to adapting to life in the community.
I began working as an independent occupational therapist in brain injury rehabilitation in 2015. I worked as an associate and then a senior associate for Laura Slader Occupational Therapy, primarily in London. In the private sector, I developed a specialism working on medico-legal cases with adults who have persisting cognitive, psychological and behavioural changes following their brain injury. I have extensive experience working on complex cases with clients who have struggled to participate in rehabilitation or who have challenging behaviour. Typically, clients with whom I specialise in working with, involve a full multidisciplinary team and their rehabilitation goes on for a number of years. My work can be very specific and includes work functional goals such as developing routines, fatigue management, money management or locating new meaningful occupation. It can also be very broad focusing on systemic work; supporting to develop support worker teams and the social system around the client. My work often involves team formulations to ensure interdisciplinary working and frequent risk assessment to enable positive risk-taking in the community. Furthermore, supporting decision-making and considerations on capacity is a common occurrence on cases, for example, supporting clients to manage finances and work with deputies, or risk assessments related to managing their home with or without support. I also have extensive experience working with clients vocationally who have had cognitive and behavioural changes. This work either consists of working with clients to sustain their work role or locating new, meaningful vocations when they are not able to manage their previous employment. I complete vocational assessments and assessments related to identifying new roles that might be suitable. As part of my specialism in working on medico-legal cases, I also work with teams to set up and manage multiple independent living trials. This has involved planning and setting them up with the MDT members, training support teams,identifying the need for them and making cases for funding. As part of my role, in addition to offering treatment, I have expertise in providing detailed assessment and progress reports, related to the case and have good knowledge of the medico-legal process.
In addition to my clinical work, I am very proactive in my development. I have recently completed my MSc in Advanced occupational therapy practice. My thesis was a systematic review and titled: How does occupational therapy literature conceptualise executive functions and how this influences occupational therapy assessment?
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.