• Behind The Scenes Of Occupational Therapy At IRS 2020/2021 | Part 1

    Working as an occupational therapist for over 20 years, IRS’s Birgit has supported some remarkable patients. And even with all the challenges the pandemic has created, the team has seen some of their proudest achievements over the last two years. We’ve overcome many challenges at IRS – such as not being able to meet face to face for a time, having to wear full PPE, and sometimes not being able to assess equipment in person – and helped patients to achieve so much.

    We’re constantly amazed at how our occupational therapist’s care supports so many individuals achieve their goals. One patient with a complex spinal injury completed the majority of her rehab online and is planning to climb Snowdon in the spring after only taking her first steps in recent months. Another young gentleman was assisted with moving from his parent’s house into independent living, all in the middle of the pandemic. Although the past two years have been difficult for everyone, we’ve seen some remarkable achievements for and by our patients.

    If you’re looking for support, mentoring, or to refer cases to occupational therapists who care, this 2-part behind-the-scenes look at IRS will display our passion.

    Who Are Our Clinicians?

    We caught up with Birgit to ask her to share what a few of her inspirational patients have achieved over the last two years. Birgit has been working as an occupational therapist since 1994 after being inspired by meeting another OT. The person was a care support worker working with young children with multiple disabilities, including some blind children. 

    As proof of how small the world is when Birgit went to university to study to be an occupational therapist, her inspiration turned out to be one of her lecturers. After becoming qualified as an OT, Birgit has worked to expand her knowledge by completing a MSc in neurological rehabilitation. Like the rest of our team, Birgit is passionate, knowledgeable, and cares about her clients.

    As she says herself, there’s so much to learn as an OT to better support individuals. Every new qualification or learning is valuable knowledge that could help support someone in their day-to-day life. As all OTs know, a small adaptation has the potential to transform an individual’s quality of life significantly. The IRS team is always looking for new areas to expand their knowledge and innovative new ways to support their clients.

    Birgit’s Day To Day Life As An Occupational Therapist

    “I facilitate people to get back to independence.”

    When we asked Birgit to sum up the day-to-day life of an occupational therapist at IRS, she said:

    “That’s virtually impossible!”

    Trying to explain what a ‘normal’ day looks like for an OT is difficult. It’s a feeling every occupational therapist knows because every day can be completely different. Despite this challenge, Birgit gave us a great description of what a couple of days looked like recently for her in her role as an OT.

    When we caught up with Birgit she was in the office for the day communicating with patients, booking meetings, and ordering equipment. Always being available to talk to clients is something every team member of IRS does. Whether they need a friendly voice or practical advice, Birgit and our other OTs are always there for our clients.

    “Today is an office day. I’m sending emails, reading through reports and supervision notes, and talking to any clients ringing in. Most of the day is spent in front of a screen or on the phone.”

    It’s an important part of the job as communication is key. However, we wanted to get a sense of what working directly with individuals is like for Birgit, so she told us about what she’d been up to the previous day. She walked us through the 3 assessments she conducted with 3 different clients.

    Assessment 1

    “The first assessment was looking at mobility equipment, including a wheelchair and shower chair, for an individual with left-sided weakness following a stroke. We’re looking at how he gets about where he lives. Asking ourselves how does he transfer safely? Following this, I conducted training with support workers where he lives, showing them how to fit an orthotic onto his left leg to support him with walking, as well as some training on transfers.”

    Birgit explained how she discussed the challenges the client was facing with them. From there, she collaborated with the team to identify solutions to overcome the challenge of transferring safely and comfortably. At IRS, we follow this process with all our clients, while always reevaluating to assess if the outcome has benefited the individual.

    Assessment 2

    “The second assessment was with a lady struggling with sensory integration. Her main request was to remove her bath because she’s had a fit in the bath. Of course, this is very risky. However, we decided together to keep it as the bath is a safe place for her where she can chill and deal with her anxiety. We then focused on recording recommendations and conducting risk assessments to share with the wider team, so we can help her to safely have a bath.”

    Birgit recognised that while there were risks associated with the bath, being able to have a bath was important to the client. Where other OTs may have disregarded the bath’s value to the individual, Birgit understood that the better solution was to make having a bath safe. We always focus on supporting the individual, even if the solution isn’t easier for us, as it will benefit the client.

    Assessment 3

    “A gentleman with a spinal injury who has a very high level of care. The request was asking me to look at things I could do to facilitate a higher level of independence so he has lesser care needs. We identified some equipment, training, and also where the career is just being absolutely lovely and really helpful and the patient can actually do certain things himself – which happens quite a bit with careers. It was a full-on assessment covering areas of personal and domestic care, driving, and leisure too.”

    This final assessment was working with a client who broke their spine. As a wheelchair user, they were struggling with going out into the community. That’s why Birgit focused on how he could increase his levels of independence. She spoke with him about things he hadn’t been able to do since his spinal injury and identified how he can get back to these activities while being safe and comfortable.

    Birgit talked about how they identified a stand-up wheelchair to help him stand at the bar to order a drink. She explained how it’s these parts of her job she enjoys most. As an OT, Birgit loves helping people get back to their previous levels of independence they had before their injuries. She’s positive that a standup wheelchair, along with other specialist equipment, could enable him to return to being out and about regularly.

    We go the extra mile to ensure our clients are supported. No matter how basic or niche their next steps are, our team is constantly working to assist our client’s well-being. Discover some of the most inspirational achievements from our clinicians and patients over the last two years in part 2 of this behind the scenes look at IRS Rehab.


    IRS Occupational Therapists

    Birgit has worked as an Occupational Therapist for almost 20 years. She and her colleagues at IRS have developed numerous individualised therapy plans for patients based on their unique struggles and objectives over the years. Get in touch with our team today if you want to help someone you care about or if you want to talk to a fellow OT about mentoring.

    We’re always happy to talk about the care requirements of the individuals who are important to you. If you’d like to speak with Birgit, you can reach her by phone at 07966 369647 or by email at birgit@irs-rehab.co.uk.