#DYWKeyworker - Hilary Wilson - Occupational Therapy Support Practitioner

Wednesday, 27th May 2020

Name: Hilary Wilson

Job Title: Occupational Therapy Support Practitioner

Company: Highland Council

Hometown: Nairn

What attracted you to the industry you are in?

I have always found it rewarding to work with children and young people. In particular the role provided the opportunity to help children and young people, including those with autism, downs syndrome, developmental coordination disorder (DCD), cerebral palsy, and muscular dystrophy to enable them to develop to their full potential.

How long have you been with the company?

21 years

Describe your day-to-day role;

A typical day may involve visiting a child/young person in a nursery, school or home setting and working with the child/young person to develop their play skills, fine motor skills, and self -help skills through a range of practical and play activities. Working closely with parents, carers and staff who work with the child/young person so that the activity ideas can be incorporated into the child’s everyday life

What kind of training have you done?Have you completed any professional qualifications?

I have undertaken a range of training over the years, from more formal training sessions provided by specialists from the NHS, the local authority and external training focusing on theory and practical skills in respect of childhood conditions. On the job training with colleagues.

What skills have you learned?

I have learned how to engage and motivate children/young people such that they are happy to participate in activities that I give to them.

This can include, for example, breaking tasks down so that they are manageable for the child. I have also learned to build relationships and work effectively with parents, carers, and staff involved with the child’s everyday life.

Have you completed any professional qualifications?

SVQ level 2 and 3 child care and education. Various child-focused Open University courses, including understanding autism, working with young children, and an introductory level course to psychology.

Do you like living and working in the Inverness & Highlands?

I love living and working in the Highlands. There is a real sense of community, truly beautiful scenery and plenty of outdoor space. Inverness, although a small city, is surprisingly cosmopolitan with plenty to do.

What skills are the most important for you to do your job well?

I need to be organised – sessions need to be planned in advance and sometimes the time factor of travel taken into consideration.

My role can involve travelling to nurseries, schools and homes outside of Inverness to visit children/young people.

I need to have the practical skills to plan and carry out fun and engaging activities that will motivate a child/young person such that they can get the most out of a therapy session.

I need to have the ability to build and maintain good working relationships. As mentioned above, my role involves working with parents, carers and staff involved in a child’s development.

Record keeping has to be kept up to date and accurate.

Was there anything about the job that surprised you?

It has always been a pleasant surprise to see colleagues (including physiotherapists, speech and language therapists), school staff, parents and carers work together in an integrated way with the goal of assisting a child’s/young person’s development.

Is there anything unusual about your role?

Although I am based in Inverness, I frequently travel to a range of settings to carry out therapy sessions with children/young people, including nurseries, schools and child/young person’s home. I enjoy the variety of getting out and about in the community

Do you get a lot of support from your company?

I am fortunate to have a supportive employer. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I have been given all the tools necessary to work from home, including a laptop and mobile phone to enable me to keep working with families and my team effectively. The Occupational Therapy team that I work with is also very caring and supportive.

What’s your favourite part of the job?

Working with children /young people and contributing towards their development – it is genuinely uplifting and rewarding.

Did you always want to pursue a career in this industry?

Yes – my passion has always been to work with children and young people.

What is your advice for young school leavers looking to start an apprenticeship?

They should have a genuine interest in working with children and young people and have an understanding of child development.

They should also be willing to develop the practical skills and problem-solving skills necessary for the role. Enthusiasm and a willingness to learn is important - every day is a learning day (even after 21 years in the job).

What is your career goal?

To keep making a difference in the children’s lives and to help them meet their full potential

How does it feel to be a KeyWorker on the frontline, supporting the Country’s fight against Covid-19?

While we have continued to assist children, young people and their families during the crisis we have not been undertaking face-to-face therapy sessions.

There have certainly been practical challenges in getting used to the new ways of working and using new technology. However, we have been adaptive and the crisis has brought about solutions, including holding video and telephone calls with children and their families – this has allowed us to keep providing our services and to also provide a listening ear at this uncertain time.

Tell us what makes you proud to be a Keyworker?

Being there for children/young people and parents to provide advice and activity ideas at a time when face to face contact has not been possible. We have also been able to provide a listening ear to parents at this uncertain time.