Nicola Heaps, one of our nursing experts, appeared in court in July this year. The case related to...
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I qualified in February 2005 following completion of a post graduate diploma in Occupational Therapy at St Martins College, Lancaster. I was funded to do this full time by the Social Service team I worked for as an Occupational Therapy Assistant. I worked for 2 years with Social Services as a qualified OT undertaking assessments and providing equipment and major adaptations for adults and children with a physical and/or learning disabilities. I gained detailed knowledge of the adaptation process from liaising with architects to specialist equipment providers through to funding/financial costings and completion of work.
I then developed experience in acute hospital settings, mainly trauma and elective orthopaedics and amputees via a rotational post and then went on to specialise in neurology – firstly stroke and then brain injury/neurological conditions at a more senior level. My specialist skills lie with patients with acquired brain injury, stroke and other neurological conditions such as spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis. I also work frequently with complex trauma patients.
I have specialist skills in: spasticity management i.e. fabricating splints and casts (mainly upper limb), utilising standard and non standardised functional, cognitive and psycho-social assessments and subsequent treatment to promote/regain skills in daily activities whilst working on normal movement, using outcome measures and evidence based practice to demonstrate efficacy of treatment.
In my current OT position, I undertake additional tasks as a goal planning co-ordinator for at least one patient on my caseload and this involves having a detailed overview of all their current, future care and rehabilitation needs. I frequently write detailed reports on their needs and recommendations. I currently also undertake bank shifts at a local acute trust to provide stroke cover at weekends to ensure all new stroke patients have a specialist stroke therapy assessment within 24 hours of admission to ensure the setting is meeting national guidelines.
During my varied work experience, since qualification, I have developed excellent communication skills which are often utilised in difficult situations. I provide verbal and written feedback to patients, colleagues, external services to gain the most favourable outcome for my patients.
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.