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5 March 2024

What is a Preceptorship like for an Occupational Therapist at Cygnet?

To answer this question, we recently sat down with Stacey Chishiri - a newly-qualified Occupational Therapist working at Cygnet Hospital Derby

Our Occupational Therapists at Derby use carefully selected, graded, and adapted activities to assess and develop function across the spectrum of motor, cognitive, and sensory processing skills, to promote the development and maintenance of functional skills required to maximise independent daily living. A wide range of therapeutically beneficial activities are offered at Derby and are regularly reviewed within ward community meetings. 

The Occupational Therapy Preceptorship programme at Cygnet offers newly-qualified Occupational Therapists support and consolidation of core Occupational Therapy skills. We also offer a sensory integration preceptorship for those with an interest in sensory integration. All new starters complete an induction that incorporates service line Occupational Therapy processes with in–house orientation.


Hello Stacey! Can you tell us about how you found your way into Occupational Therapy?

I came from a foster care background myself so completely understand how difficult upbringings and challenging behaviours can start and show up. I went to 6th form to study, but sometimes struggled with the writing parts and then discovered I’m dyslexic. I took a year out to work and took a job as a Support Worker. From there I realised I wanted to be an OT and did a course over 4 years to qualify as an OT Band 5. I was offered a job with the NHS and also found out there was a temporary contract available at Cygnet. I had a feeling I’d enjoy the mental health side of OT more than the physical side, so getting the role with Cygnet really was a blessing and, it was near my home – so it was perfect. 


How quickly did you go from being offered the job to becoming a fully-fledged member of the Cygnet Team?

It was very smooth. The Regional Director called to see if I was looking for work and told me about the vacancy. I had an interview and was offered a job and given a start date within 3 days of the interview. 


How has your Preceptorship been so far and how has it been for you? 

I’m a year qualified as an OT and the preceptorship is almost signed-off. It comes in two parts: Peer Support and Continual Personal Development – all of this has helped me a lot. In the first 6 months, it was definitely tough and a learning curve, as I was dealing with some really difficult behaviours on a rehab ward. But months on, we’ve helped improve the service and I’ve built some great relationships with the service users. I’ve now been made a permanent member of staff and any opportunity to develop, I take it. Over the next 2-3 years I want to specialise, perhaps in sensory needs and build this knowledge, and possibly consider management roles on the Ward. 


It can be tough going some days so where do you find the strength to work within mental health?

My Christian faith is very important. I also listen to Podcasts to help develop a good mindset and do positive affirmations most days. Given my background, I’ve been through a lot, so I do have a lot of understanding with regard to the service users. I had brilliant foster parents and they helped me develop resilience and empathy. I’m 25 and live alone but know how to combat loneliness. I’m also good on self-care. I know when to use annual leave so I can get time out when I need it. I’ve also found ways to adapt to the stressful times so I don’t pass my stresses on to the patients. For example, after one stressful week, I needed an admin day so locked myself in a room to get away from the ward.


Do you get good support from a Supervisor to help with the stressful weeks? Can you be really honest with them?

My supervisor has been so helpful. They told me that I should never feel that my feelings on stress are stupid or not valid, and they encourage us to ‘let it all out’. As a Band 5, we have our weekly one-to-ones with our Supervisors and monthly face-to-face meetings with them. 


What excites you about your future in OT?

I’m excited – the first 6 months were certainly a challenge but 12 months on, I’ve seen such progress. We’ve made great changes for patients on the ward. I’m learning so much about how to take constructive feedback that I’m now buzzing from it as I use it to help me grow further and continue to make positive changes. 

Stacey – thanks so much for your time – your energy is infectious. We hear that your annual appraisal (a 360 from across the entire Multidisciplinary Team), garnered THE best feedback your Supervisor has ever seen! Well done, and we’d love to chat again in 12 months to hear more about your progress.  


If you’re reading this and thinking you’d like to work as an OT with colleagues like Stacey, and you’re looking for your next OT role or would like to start a career in OT we have roles available across the UK.

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