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 2002 and gained experience in elderly care, medicine and surgery, oncology and haematology, rheumatology, and stroke, before progressing to my current role, where I work as a Senior I OT for the Adult Physical Domiciliary Service.
This post involves the assessment of a client within the community setting. The clients present with a wide range of diagnoses with many physical symptoms (including fractures/ injuries / amputees / spinal/ progressive neurological illness), and their needs are often considered extensive, affecting all areas of daily living. Often investigation of symptoms is required, and I regularly liaise with medical professionals, and multi-disciplinary team members to ascertain these. I am required to make appropriate recommendations, and offer specialist advice for the clients immediate and long-term needs.
Recommendations may include treatment (including rehabilitation); however, the majority require equipment (specialist seating or level 3 wheelchair provision), adaptations, or additional care. The adaptations or pieces of equipment are often considered ‘major works’, for which I have responsibilities in the planning (liaising with architects / statutory agencies), implementation, and final approval of these. This post requires good communication skills and accurate note keeping; daily extensive report writing and good presentation skills are also required. I participate fully with service improvement initiatives, service audits, and adhere fully to the departmental policies, as well as our standards of practice / code of ethics.
Alongside my NHS role, I currently work in independent practice, where I work in partnership with many different organisations, professions and with individuals with varying degrees of disability. I have experience as an associate case manager, which has allowed me to develop a solid understanding of the importance of this role with complex cases.
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 Procedure Rules (CPR) pertaining to Expert Witnesses.