Having dipped my toes into independent practice whilst working as an Associate Occupational Therapist, I learnt that I could complete thorough assessments and recommend what people really needed, rather than being constricted by the guidelines of statutory services such as the NHS and Social Services. I had no “thresholds” for referrals, that clients had to meet before being seen. If piece of equipment B was better than piece A, I could recommend it, rather than having to use something that the service already owned. I could also “future proof” with my recommendations for adaptations rather than just providing smaller equipment and hoping that it would do the same job.
Being independent also means that I can choose my hours and work around the needs of my two children. I tend to work during the school days and not so much during the holidays. I complete my paperwork in the evenings and at the weekends, so that I can be with my family when I need them.
Over the time that I have been a parent, I have become more exposed to other parents locally and my eyes have been widened to the difficulty that they have in accessing services for their children. As a parent, you know when you need to seek help, and to not be able to get it, or to have to wait for a very long time, can be interminably frustrating. My eyes have also been opened more to the children who are home educated – often through necessity rather than it initially being a parental choice, as the schools just cannot meet their needs sufficiently.
These are the families that I want to help. The ones who need help NOW but can’t get it easily; the ones who find that the schools aren’t able to provide the support they need; the ones where their children “mask” during the day and let it all out at home (often with school commenting that there are no issues at all).
I do need to remember though that I need to make a living. I am not on a regular wage and the only money I get is for work that I complete. It would be far too easy for me to choose to help everybody and not charge for it, but that would leave my family at a disadvantage. I am completing monthly parent drop in workshops with AP Cymru, so that is the main charitable thing that I have chosen to do. For everything else, I have completed my research and believe I have set my rates at the lower-average of what other independent OT services are charging in South Wales. My reason for this, is that I want to help. I’m not trying to build a huge pot of money for my retirement here!
I have a vast amount of knowledge that I have gained over the years, and I am constantly working on developing further. I probably spend far too much money on training, but it is my investment not only for myself but also for the families that I work with.
So this is my ethos…open to all, minimal waiting lists (if any), affordable (hopefully) and helpful.
Helping children and young people to shine.