AHPs in profile - Payal Wilson, Community Advanced Practitioner

The third in our week long series of features on the work of just some of the many Allied Health Professionals who provide community services in Manchester.

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Being an Advanced Practitioner is not really a traditional AHP role and historically has been more linked to the nursing profession.

However, there has been a significant increase in AHPs taking up these roles. Advanced Practice equips clinicians with additional clinical examination and diagnostic skills, enhancing the quality of care provided.

I qualified as an Occupational Therapist in 2001. There continues to be a lack of true understanding of the OT role. We’re dual trained in mental and physical health and our role focuses on maintaining/ enhancing functional independence of patients – usually after illness or injury.

We look at a patient’s functional baseline, and together with the patient, use meaningful occupation or activities to enhance performance. We utilise graded activity to get people as close to their baseline as possible - getting them doing the things they want to be able to do.

That sounds easy but it isn’t. For example, making a cup of tea sounds simple but you need to be able to initiate and sequence the task, to stand or sit, use different grips, use the relevant cognitive strategies, have dynamic balance to reach. We really break down that activity – step by step and build up from there working with the patient.

Occupational Therapists work in a variety of settings across mental and physical health care settings and have a wide array of core skills. They are able to assess occupational performance, conduct environmental assessments, assess and provide equipment and adaptations and utilise standardised assessments to formally assess cognition.

My OT background is in stroke rehabilitation and intermediate care. I have been lucky to have worked in a management and leadership role for the last six years prior to joining the Crisis Team in North Manchester. My leadership roles helped me gain valuable managerial and strategic skills, but I have always felt my strengths lie within patient care and I missed my clinical intervention.

Taking on advanced practice

Completing my MSc Advanced Practice has allowed me to develop clinical examination and diagnostic skills and, combined with my core OT skills, has really changed the quality of care I provide to my patients. I am able to not only clinically examine them but also look at functional performance, identify environmental risks, provide necessary equipment and assess cognitive abilities. The benefit of combining different and valuable core skills is amazing!

I started with the Crisis Response team in January and I absolutely love my new role. I feel privileged to be part of such a positive, caring and highly skilled team. The service focuses on admission avoidance and enables some of our most vulnerable patients to be clinically and therapeutically managed and monitored at home rather than in hospital.

We take referrals direct from the ambulance service, GPs and other health care professionals and also provide out of hours cover to Crumpsall Vale intermediate care unit. The model we use is being rolled out across the city. There’s a can do attitude and a genuine team effort across health and social care to make services better for our residents.

Being an OT in Manchester

Being an OT is so rewarding. If you’re interested in a career as an Occupational Therapist then definitely look into work experience or shadowing. The Royal College of Occupational Therapists has lots of information about getting into the role. I also absolutely love working in Manchester. Care is moving into the community and we need a workforce that is ready for that. You do feel like you make a difference and that makes it a role that is truly rewarding.

Visit the Royal College of Occupational Therapists website here for further information on becoming an OT.