Small change Big Impact

31 Oct 2019



Jewish Care is marking Occupational Therapy Week, 4-10 November to recognise and celebrate the incredible impact of Occupational Therapists (OT’s), the role they play and the differences they make to people’s lives.

The small team of Occupational Therapists will host pop-up stalls at The Maurice & Vivienne Wohl Campus and The Betty and Asher Loftus Centre where residents, community centre members, staff, volunteers and relatives can learn more about their role and explore the devices and gadgets they use to improve people’s lives. The OT’s will also be holding a Lunch and Learn for staff who will have the opportunity to learn more about the Montessori approach to dementia and aging, and how they apply this.

Romy Pikoos, senior Occupational Therapist who works in Jewish Care’s Best Practice & Compliance Support Team, says, “At the pop-up stalls, we’ll be showing people some of the many small things we can do make life easier; grab sticks, adaptive cutlery and so much more.

Occupational Therapy training looks holistically at a person. We might be asked to look at someone’s furniture but find that someone isn’t eating properly. We problem-solve and look at what would help make their life easier. Have they got access to the community if that’s what they want? Do they need transport? Will they need a handrail on their stairs to get out? We work with families and carers about how to do things differently with a person who is living at home and wants to stay there. Sometimes we are able to get equipment for people a lot quicker than they would otherwise have access to.”

“We are implementing the Montessori technique in our work to empower and enable clients to become more independent which gives a greater sense of purpose and has huge benefits to wellbeing. We remind staff the words of Maria Montessori, ’Everything you do for me, you take from me.’”

Lauren Besser is the Occupational Therapist at Shalvata, the therapeutic service for members of the Jewish Care’s Holocaust Survivors’ Centre and Holocaust survivors living in the community. She worked with Sam, 93, who is an artist but was not able to access his art room on the second floor. Lauren supported him to get a stair lift and now he goes up there regularly to not only do art but spend time admiring his art work time in a space that makes him happy and improves his wellbeing. Lauren worked with Sam’s carer to make a set of instructions, in line with the Montessori approach of giving people cues and putting the information into the environment so that he doesn’t have to rely on his memory (or another person) to use it. He is now able to use the stairlift independently, his carer simply supervises.

Lauren says,

“I love being an Occupational Therapist and be able to work with my clients helping to support them by giving them as much independence as possible, all whilst keeping them safe. By getting the stairlift installed it enabled me to sit with Sam whilst he explained some of his art and their relation to the holocaust; he explained his artwork helps his mental health as it keeps the stories of those who perished alive. This really was very meaningful for both of us.”

Another client of Lauren, Svetlana, wrote to her recently. Svetlana says,

“Thank you for all your help, support and everything you’ve done for me since I fractured the hip. The fall came so unexpectedly and completely changed my life.  But there was some benefit to it; had I not had the accident I would never have met you.

“Full of optimism and great ideas you have made my life as easy as possible. I was impressed with your knowledge and punctuality and will to have things done (remember those forms, endless). Had I relied on help from Barnet only, I would have been sleeping on my old mattress on the floor due to the collapsed bed. It was only you that managed to get a new bed within two days. You also managed to find the charity for the expensive but necessary chair. You never said that it was hard for you or that you didn’t have time.

You do your job properly, as best as you can and if every OT would be doing the same for their patients how many people would be much happier than they are.”

#OTWeek2019 and #SmallChangeBigImpact

Monday 4 November, 12.30-2pm – Michael Sobell Jewish Community Centre

Thursday 7 November, 12.30-4pm – Betty and Asher Loftus Centre Foyer