Congratulations to Somek & Associates' Fiona Powell, OT expert witness and...
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BSc Occupational Therapy
Since qualifying as an OT in 2006, my career has been focussed on paediatric work. I am profoundly Deaf and use a cochlear implant. I use a combination of BSL (British Sign Language) and spoken English to communicate, and I am (in some situations and for short periods) able to lip read.
I have worked with children and young adults who are born or become deaf due to a medical illness for nearly fifteen years. During this time, I have worked with young people who use a variety of hearing aids, cochlear implants and bone anchored hearing aids. Through my work, I have gained significant experience of working with children and young people with dual sensory impairments along with other physical needs following brain injury and associated with conditions including Cerebral Palsy and CHARGE syndrome. Therefore, I am familiar with different types of equipment available (including wheelchairs and specialist seating) along with the extensive care requirements for moderate and severely disabled children and young people. In addition to this many of the children on my case load had other additional needs such as autism, asperger’s syndrome and Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). I have completed further training in a variety of areas such as postural management, handwriting and Chailey Approach to Postural management. My Postgraduate training has given me a long term aim to complete an MA focussing on Sensory Integration for Deaf children.
A large proportion of my work as a paediatric OT has involved supporting families to manage the additional needs of their children through liaising with statutory services and charities. A number of the families I have worked with have British Sign Language as their first language. My previous work in an integrated NHS and Social Services team provided me with the opportunity to assess the needs of children and young people and their families and make recommendations for equipment provision along with home adaptations. Those I assessed had a very broad range of conditions including Downs Syndrome, Autism and developmental delay. In addition, I was responsible for setting up and developing the therapy service at Exeter Royal Academy for Deaf Education. As a team, we undertook specialist comprehensive assessments and then in conjunction with the wider multi-disciplinary team we created learning programmes to suit each individual student. Goal setting and carrying out regular reviews were a key part of the therapy team's work at the academy.
Since relocating in October 2018, I have worked as bank staff consistently for two or three days a week at a school for children and young people with speech and language difficulties. Working with a wide range of young people allows me to expand on my knowledge and skills. I work within a large team of OTs and other therapists. I am required to carry out a range of standardised assessments which form part of my annual review reports.
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.