Nicola Heaps, one of our nursing experts, appeared in court in July this year. The case related to...
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BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy
I qualified as an Occupational Therapist in 2003 from Brunel University. I have always had an interest in complex disability and in the early part of my career, I pursued a variety of locum therapist roles to develop my knowledge. In that time I acquired a significant range of experience working with both children and adults (medicine, surgery, trauma, orthopaedics, stroke rehab, social care) across NHS, Social Services and education settings. This culminated in pursuing further interest in paediatrics. I am now self employed through my own limited company. I have been engaged in paediatric locum roles and work in an associate capacity as an Occupational Therapist, Moving and Handling Trainer and Case Manager.
I have specialised in paediatrics for the last ten years. I went to New Jersey in 2008 to complete a module in sensory integration theory and have been applying my learning to my clinical practice. My experience in that time includes identifying care, therapy and equipment needs, application of sensory integration strategies and approaches, administration of standardised assessment and direct therapy input to children with complex neuro-disability and life limiting conditions, rare endocrine syndromes, learning disability, developmental delay, developmental coordination disorder, Autistic Spectrum Disorder and sensory processing difficulties. My work has also included children with visual and hearing impairments.
Working for the NHS previously and returning at times as a locum, I have provided services to specialist schools, including consultation and drop in sessions for parents. I have devised functional and sensory motor skill programs for children and teach set programs to carers/education providers to promote development. A prominent part of my role has been multidisciplinary working across contexts and composing detailed reports. These were commonly for local authority education panels, Coordinated Support Plans (Scotland), Individual Education Plans (IEPs) and evidence for State benefit decisions including the Disabled Living Allowance. I enjoy teaching and training and have continued developing my skills in the assessment of specialist equipment and moving and handling.
I am now formally qualified as a moving and handling trainer (Level 4 Children/Adult Handling and Risk Assessment Key Trainer Certificate through the Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents RoSPA). I currently teach in a freelance capacity with Edge Services teaching the same qualification to others. This is a UK wide role delivering training in both private and public sectors, including care and education establishments.
In addition to my current teaching role, I am now practising as an associate case manager for children and adults in the field of physical trauma including musculoskeletal, head injury and psychological symptoms.
I maintain a high standard of continuing professional development through a combination of taught and online courses, including reflective practice and identifying my own learning needs. I accept instruction 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.