Improving lives with occupational therapy

People pose for picture inside a room
Published: 3 November 2023
Filed under: Communications

During World Occupational Therapy Week, we are celebrating the amazing work that our Occupational Therapists do for residents across the borough.

Sharon Heenan, a Waltham Forest resident, benefitted from the help of an occupational therapist earlier in the year, expressing that the improvements “changed my life drastically”.

The Council’s occupational therapy team provides support to increase independence and ensure safety at home.

This could include getting in and out of bed, getting on and off the toilet, going up and downstairs, and getting in and out of the house.

Occupational therapy assessments are offered to anyone living in Waltham Forest with a permanent and substantial disability and having difficulties carrying out essential activities by themselves.

Solutions could involve making appropriate recommendations for the resident and their carer (if they have one), suggesting equipment, or recommending major home adaptations where necessary.

Sharon was visited by Raylene Winter, one of the Council’s occupational therapists, who suggested installing a kitchen trolley, raised toilet seat, and mopstick rails on the stairs. Mopstick rails are attached to the wall and banister going up the stairs, allowing people to hold on and support themselves as they ascend.

Reflecting on the service provided, Sharon said, “Raylene listened to all my needs and all the things she put in place have really improved my life and alleviated pain.

“I'm usually embarrassed by how I live and what I can't do. But I'm so glad she didn't judge me and only wanted to help which is a rare thing these days. She’s an asset to the department and I honestly can't thank her enough for sorting everything out for me.”

With the new equipment in her home, Sharon is able to live a more independent and comfortable life. It helps her to safely accomplish domestic day-to-day tasks.

Sharon added, “The kitchen trolley has been a life saver. For the first time in a long time, I chopped vegetables and roasted them. I added it to quinoa and pasta, and it felt so good to be able to make healthy meals that I haven’t tasted in years.

“And instead of sleeping on the sofa, I can now haul myself up to bed using the handrails. They are well secured to the wall so I trust I can put my weight on them.

“I can't remember how I functioned without her help. It's changed my life drastically.”

Cllr Louise Mitchell, Cabinet Member for Adult Services at Waltham Forest Council, said, “It is so touching to see the amazing work that Raylene and other occupational therapists do for those who need it most.

“By fitting a few essential measures, Sharon and many other residents have seen their quality of lives improve dramatically, allowing them to live more independently. If you or someone you know could benefit from occupational therapy, I would encourage you to get in touch with our lovely team.”

You can self-refer for an occupational therapy assessment if you are over the age of 18 by calling 020 8496 3000.