Graduate story: Chris Wood, MSc Occupational Therapy
A little over two years ago, I completed the MSc Occupational Therapy programme here at Leeds Beckett. I really enjoyed my 2 years studying the MSc, the standard of teaching was excellent and I felt understood as an individual within my cohort. Most importantly, I gained the right combination of skills and confidence to start working as an allied health professional, after a brief interlude to fulfil a long-standing dream of visiting the Amazon rainforest!
I am fortunate that I started in the post I really wanted – the rotational preceptorship with Leeds and York Partnership Foundation Trust and I can’t speak highly enough of. Plying my trade in the forensic service I gained so many new skills and built my understanding of risk and trauma informed approaches to working. I also grew significantly in confidence, something that can be hard to find and implement as a newly qualified clinician.
Fast forward to today and I am now working as a specialist Occupational Therapist supporting the homeless population of Leeds. Not only does this have huge bearing on my career personally, it also represents a huge step forward for health inclusion in Leeds. This new post is funded by the Leeds CCG and I am commissioned to provide occupational therapy to both rough sleepers and those in temporary and unstable accommodation. As well as delivering one-to-one occupational therapy input, I also get to work alongside a fantastic range of professionals across several teams. I am part of Bevan Healthcare CIC and collaborate with a paramedic, advanced nurse practitioner and GPs to deliver an innovative outreach healthcare service designed to combat health exclusion.
It's impossible to think about my job without considering the global pandemic. For my patients, made even more vulnerable by the risk of infection, access to healthcare and basic provisions has been vital. Inclusion health seems to have an inherent ability to adapt and find new ways of working and achieving for its marginalised populations. On a personal level I have adapted too, focussing more on one-to-one interventions, and keeping some new and exciting group work in the pipeline for the smoother times ahead.
In a bid to contribute in some way to the collective effort to beat the pandemic, I have also recently turned my hand to the vaccination process. This has been composed of using my core allied health professional soft skills to go through the consent process with patients. In addition, I have taken advantage of the patient group directive allowing occupational therapists among other professions to administer vaccinations themselves. This is something that filled me with trepidation initially but I can now reflect on with a sense of pride and I will continue to offer these new skills up as we try to steer our way through to calmer post-pandemic waters.