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29 May 2024

How being an OT within Learning Disabilities offers a career where you really make a difference to the quality of people’s lives

Katherine is the Head Occupational Therapist in Southampton


What made you want to be an OT? 

I never intended to become an Occupational Therapist – I’d always wanted a career as a primary school teacher. When I was in my late teens, my mum became significantly unwell – she had an OT visit her at home and really help her; her as a person and listen to what she wanted to do. The OT didn’t focus on what was wrong, instead focused on what could be done to help. She made a huge difference to my mum’s quality of life, enabling her to function as a person, wife and mother. 

She inspired me and so here I am, 24 years later! I feel I am a better and more empathetic OT because of my personal experiences. 


What made you want to work within Social Care with adults with Autism and/or Learning Disabilities specifically? 

I have a background working in physical and mental health settings for the NHS and another private provider. I have always had an interest in Learning disabilities and was the Learning Disabilities link OT in a previous role in an acute setting. I saw this opportunity with Cygnet and went for it, luckily got the job and am loving the variety and job satisfaction it gives me. I love advocating for the residents and supporting them to experience aspects of life that are meaningful to them. 


What made you choose Cygnet – what was the appeal? 

I was impressed by the support and development opportunities within Cygnet for the OT’s and this being a strong ethos across the company for all staff. I feel supported and valued within the services I am clinically responsible for, and within the OT regional and national networks. 


It’s a tough job that won’t suit everyone. What do you think are your main personality traits that make you suited to the role of OT within social care? 

I feel strongly that we all have rights to a good quality of life and that disability should not stand in the way. I advocate for the residents and do whatever I can to ensure they lead a happy, understood and meaningful life. I have a caring nature as I’m sure all who work in social care do. 


What’s been the proudest moment of your career with Cygnet to date? 

There are many proud moments – one which stands out is detailed in the case study in the social care section of the OT book we’re publishing later this year . The moment we supported a resident to access the swimming pool after many years – her happy reaction was incredible! She absolutely loved it! All the detailed planning and preparation which led to that moment was all very much worth it. 


What excites you about the years ahead in your role? 

I am excited to see where the Cygnet journey takes me. Being involved in the OT book project and Podcast is an amazing experience and opportunity, and I look forward to seeing the final results. Ultimately though, what always brings me job happiness is working directly with the residents – I am an OT through and through, and this is what I love to do. 

Thank you so much for taking time to chat to us Katherine – your love for your role is infectious! 

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