News & Events

Occupational Therapy within Home Link and the Third Sector

Jane
16.12.2019 - 14:46

As I approach the end of my time at Home Link and reflect on my experience, I realise the value of Occupational Therapy (OT) embedded within the third sector. 

For those of you who don’t know, Occupational Therapy is a unique profession which focuses on providing practical support to people and empowering them to overcome barriers that prevent them from doing activities (or occupations) that they find important.  These occupations could be essential day to day tasks such as self-care, work/school, or leisure/play.

Traditionally, Occupational Therapists have worked mainly within the health and education sector.  However, according to The College of Occupational Therapists, a growing number of OTs are now found in other innovative places – such as children and families charity services.

My time at Home Link has enabled me to see first-hand the value of Occupational Therapists working in these types of settings. As Bergson (a fellow OT) puts it, “We are active problem solvers, dual trained in both physical and mental health, take a strengths-based approach and naturally work across the health, social care, and third sectors.” These traits are all of great importance to clients, who often have complicated backgrounds and multiple barriers preventing them from maintaining their health and wellbeing.

At Home Link I have worked with families who struggle to access community services and feel they are stigmatised by society. They are balancing social and economic disadvantage whilst trying to raise their children to grow and develop into positive and confident adults. Families can become easily overwhelmed by their circumstances which can lead to breakdowns in their family systems and challenges in completing basic living skills.

My role at this organisation has been developing since I started here, but with my Occupational Therapy hat on I have been able to support children and families to develop daily routines, have worked with them to set meaningful and realistic goals, have supported families to access services and resources, and have empowered them to begin to engage and balance all the different occupations in their lives. In its entirety, I have helped families build confidence in themselves and confidence in each other, increasing their wellbeing and quality of life.  

My work at Home Link has truly proven that there is a huge role for Occupational Therapy in third sector organisations. Occupational Therapists have core skills which can support the prevention of crisis and positively make a difference to marginalised groups in society. I hope in the future, professionals like myself will continue to seek out roles that are non-traditional in the OT world. In doing so, we can continue to serve the people that are desperately needing active Occupational Therapy support.

 

Reference

Bergson, K. (2016, February 3). There's a place for occupational therapy beyond councils and the NHS. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/social-care-network/social-life-blog/2016/feb/03/occupational-therapy-ot-student-nhs.

 

 

"The support has been a lifeline for us"

Jane
01.10.2019 - 09:23

At Home Link Family Support, we support many families and each family is unique. Lewis (aged 4) was waiting for an Autism assessment, when his family were referred to Home Link Family Support. He lives with his Great Auntie, who is his legal guardian and his Mum, Sophie. His legal guardian is also carer for his Mum, who has mental health issues. At the time they were referred, Lewis’ carers were finding it difficult to manage his behaviour, and it was difficult for Lewis to take part in a daily routine. The family felt quite isolated and that they needed some support with this.

An Early Years coordinator visited them at home, and discussed the family situation and the issues that they faced. Together they set a personal goal, for Lewis to be able to take part in a daily routine and for the family to be supported in doing this. The Coordinator discussed how to use a visual timetable with the family, and supported them in starting to use this with Lewis. Mandy and Sophie said that they found this very helpful. Lewis gradually became more independent with his morning routine. The support provided then developed into supporting Lewis’ learning at home. The Coordinator supported the family to use a social story with Lewis to help with his behaviour. The family received regular visits, where Lewis’ Mum was able to take part in play sessions with the Coordinator and with Lewis. Lewis’ Mum said that she felt listened to and not judged. Her confidence as a Mum developed during the visits. The play sessions focused on Bookbug, drawing, crafts, outdoor play and imaginative play. Lewis and his Mum both really developed their imagination as they played together during the visits. The Coordinator also helped the family to attend a Bookbug session at their local library. Because Lewis had become familiar with Bookbug at home, the family then found it easier to go along to the library session.

The support is now drawing to a close as Lewis has started school. Mandy and Sophie said: ”The support has been a lifeline for us. We couldn’t have got through the last few months without the support and strategies provided by Home Link. The Coordinator gave us strategies to use with Lewis, and explained them in a way that we could understand and use. Lewis has really come on and is now really interested in letters and words. We were also able to take him to a group over the summer, where we made some new friends. We would not have done this without the support of Home Link. As Lewis was able to build a relationship with the Coordinator, this gave us the confidence that he could do this with other adults outside of the family.”

(Names have been changed)

"When I heard my five year old say ‘Mummy’ for the first time. . .

Jane
28.08.2019 - 11:09

“When I heard my five year old say ‘Mummy’ for the first time, it touched my heart . . .  Home Link’s Support gave me confidence as a mother.”

Emma was aged 4 when her family were referred to Home Link Family Support. She was in her pre- school year, and had a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Emma’s Mum, Grace, said that she was feeling isolated after receiving this diagnosis. Emma said “bye bye”, but did not use many other words to communicate.

The family was visited by an Early Years Coordinator, and supported to set some personal goals. Grace’s main priority was supporting Emma’s communication development. The Early Years Coordinator then visited the family on a regular basis. The Coordinator carried out Bookbug Home sessions with Emma and her Mum. The sessions were adapted to meet Emma’s communication needs. For example, when singing nursery rhymes, we paused for Emma to fill in the gaps. At first, Emma took a long time to do this, and found it difficult to join in. “Twinkle twinkle little star” was the first song that she started to join in with. We also played games and used Signalong signs to encourage Emma to communicate and take turns. Grace continued these activities with Emma during the week. In particular she did a lot of singing with her.

After we had been working together for a few months, there was a dramatic change in Emma’s development. She started to use several words to communicate for the first time. She became very familiar with all the Bookbug songs, and joined in with them on the visits. She developed her ability to look at books, and her concentration abilities. We spent some time going out in the garden and creating opportunities to use language when playing outside. Emma’s language skills really took off!

Grace said: “The support from Home Link Family Support was really awesome, and so inspiring – it really helped me and gave me confidence as a mother. The first time Emma said “Mummy,” it touched my heart and I felt a new connection with her. I was able to relate to the Coordinator as she had a friendly approach. I felt free to express myself and to open up. I always looking forward to every visit, and Emma really looks forward to it too.”

As Early Years Coordinator visiting this family, it has been a privilege to be part of their journey and to see Emma making such amazing progress. Grace has been inspiring in the way she has set a personal goal and worked towards this, and has really developed her confidence as a Mum.

(Names have been changed)

 

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