“It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

That’s how Occupational Therapy Assistant Kayleigh Bowler described joining NRS Healthcare

When she joined the company four-and-a-half years ago, the 27-year-old hadn’t imagined that in addition to being a member of the Community Equipment Services team in Kent, she would also get the opportunity to study a degree apprenticeship in Occupational Therapy.

To mark World Occupational Therapy Day, we caught up with Kayleigh to find out more about her apprenticeship through Coventry University and why she finds her role so rewarding.

Here’s what she had to say!

Can you tell us a little more about your role?

It’s really varied! We receive a high number of emails and calls from prescribers within the area asking for clinical advice on our core stock and specialist equipment. This can include compatibility queries or to advise on the availability of our recycled stock. As part of a team, we facilitate and deliver training for inductions and equipment as well as attend equipment review and operational meetings. We also work with the warehouse teams to make recycled equipment available again. One of our largest roles is to gatekeep the new special orders for effective budget management. We work closely with commissioners to demonstrate the savings and benefits from recycling equipment and support them on any additional projects they might need. We also run the Safe + Well Service, which encourages members of the public to get in touch with us for advice on daily living aids they would like to self-fund.

What makes it enjoyable?

I love the variety of getting involved in different tasks and that no two days are the same. Although we do not have much face-to-face contact, knowing that we are helping therapists to provide equipment to their service users, which will enable them to participate in their meaningful occupations is really rewarding. I also work as part of a great team and feel very lucky. The Clinical team is made up four of us and my colleagues Jenny and Denise have been really supportive helping me learn the job. It is a really nurturing environment. The wider Kent ICES team are all focused on the end goal of meeting service user needs and we are always in communication and helping each other with strong management support and the wider clinical teams who are always available to share ideas and offer advice.

What made you want to become an Occupational Therapist?

I completed a Psychology degree and started working in a hospital as a support worker for those with learning difficulties and mental health illnesses. This was to get experience to start a career in psychology. However, when I started seeing the difference in behaviour and improved mood and wellbeing of the service users that attended groups organised by the occupational therapy team, I saw how rewarding a role it was and the wonderful rapport they had with the service users made me realise it was the career I wanted to pursue.

What are the benefits of an apprenticeship?

I knew occupational therapy was the career I wanted but having already been through university and not having the funds or ability to take time off to complete a master’s degree, this was the perfect solution. I’m very grateful to NRS Healthcare for this opportunity. Being able to apply the theory I’m learning to real life scenarios at work helps to consolidate your learning and means you are able to keep practising and building on your knowledge.