Somek & Associates' Jessica Thurston, Head of Medico-legal Operations and...
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Bsc, DipCOT, Full Member of Expert Witness Institute (MEWI)
I qualified as an Occupational Therapist from the Grampian School of Occupational Therapy, Aberdeen in 1982. Since then I have had experience of working within a wide variety of treatment settings for statutory and charitable providers of services. I have specialised in the field of paediatrics since 1995 working in community and educational settings with children and young people who have a wide range of physical disabilities, sensory impairment and learning difficulties.
In relation to clinical intervention I currently provide a consultative service to Quest school in Kent, which is a specialised school for children with autistic spectrum disorders and whose teaching methods are based on applied behavioural analysis (ABA) theories of practice, as well as working independently with children and their families within Surrey and Kent.
My medico legal work involves the assessment of children who have a variety of congenital and acquired conditions. Each case requires the compilation of a comprehensive report and I may liaise with other expert witnesses and legal teams in the preparation of this. I may be called upon to present evidence in court.
I have undertaken significant moving and handling training over the years and was responsible for the delivery of training, related to people handling skills and inanimate object moving and handling, to a staff group of approximately 200 at the Royal London Society for the Blind, whilst working at Dorton House school. I continue to carry out risk assessments, both individual and environmental, and I have completed training in accessibility audits.
I am a member of the Royal College of Occupational Therapy specialist section of Children, Young People and Families (CYPF) and have been the Finance Officer for the South East region for the past 8 years, previously serving as co-chair for the National Association of Paediatric Occupational Therapists in the South East region before that. As part of the committee I am involved in organising an annual study day for the region. I am also a member of the Royal College of Occupational Therapy Independent Practice.
I joined Somek and Associates in 1999 and have written many reports on Occupational Therapy needs, being instructed by Claimants and Defendants and as a single joint expert. I have carried out assessments in the UK and abroad, including the US, Europe and Trinidad. I have undergone training in the medico-legal process and continue to update my skills through continuous professional development. I am aware of my responsibilities under the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) pertaining to Expert Witnesses. In 2008 I became a medico-legal associate trainer with Somek and Associates and I regularly help train new associates as well as contributing to the quality assurance processes within Somek. I completed an Expert Witness Certificate through Cardiff University Law School in September 2009. I am a member of the Expert Witness Institute.