Somek & Associates' Jessica Thurston, Head of Medico-legal Operations and...
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BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy, Full Member of Expert Witness Institute (MEWI)
I qualified as an occupational therapist in 1998 from the University of Northumbria at Newcastle and have spent the majority of my career in the field of adult community rehabilitation. I have significant experience in the assessment and treatment of clients who have conditions including but not limited to multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, cerebrovascular accident, motor neurone disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, falls, joint replacements, fibromyalgia and arthritic conditions. Treatment and management of these conditions required an understanding of the impact physical conditions have on an individual’s mental health. As the lead therapist, I was allocated the more complex cases to assess and treat.
In 2016, I left the NHS to set up my own occupational therapy company; I am required to assess clients with a wide range of conditions. My referrals are mainly generated from case managers and clients often have complex injuries following catastrophic accidents. I am required to complete in-depth assessments; produce clinically reasoned reports with recommendations for treatment and need to have excellent communication skills to liaise with the case manager and wider multi-disciplinary team. This is both verbal and written and needs to be completed in a timely way.
A part of establishing my company has involved building relationships with other health professionals and equipment companies. My verbal and written communication skills have enabled such relationships to have been developed successfully.
My skill set includes, but is not limited to: postural management; fatigue management; relaxation; anxiety management; environmental assessments and falls prevention. I have an in-depth knowledge of adaptive equipment to maximise a client’s functional abilities.
I am the preferred provider for an international golfing company where I undertake functional assessments of employees who have health problems which are impacting their work role.
In January 2021, I commenced a role as an Associate Trainer for Somek and Associates which involves training and recruiting of new experts and service development to ensure high standards are maintained.
I jointly led a session at the British Association of Hand Therapists conference on consent and the implications of this on professional practice.
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 the Civil Procedures Rules (CPR) pertaining to Expert Witnesses.