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Liz Atkinson

Case Manager & Occupational Therapist

Typical day in my life

Where are you based?

Barrow in Furness, I tell my family I’m off to my ‘box’ and they know I’m off to my home office to work.  Its a little room set up as my home office which I use if I’m not out in the community with my clients.  I do love driving up to the Penrith office and catching up with my colleagues but working from home really suits me.

Tell me a little bit about yourself?

I’m 46 and have a very busy and active social and family life. I’ve been married for nearly 24 years and have two great children, James and Katherine who are 19 and 16.   I have a large extended family that live all over the country which means I have a bed in nearly every city!   I love keeping in contact with my University mates and we are all off to Cuba in November for a girl’s week away.  My friends say I’m geographically challenged living on Walney Island but I love the area.  I am a member of Headway South Cumbria and enjoy helping where I can with this brilliant charity. I enjoy walking, baking and holidays, especially cruising.  Just one last thing about me, I’m always first on the dance floor and usually the last to leave it!

So, what do you do at A Chance for Life?

I’m a case manager and an occupational therapist.  I manage therapy programmes and support packages working with both children and adults with an acquired brain injury and cerebral palsy.

Take us through what you get up to on a typical working Day?

I can see up to three clients on a typical day if they are in the same area, one recent day was:

Looking to increase the social interactions for a client and try to access health and wellbeing coaches through statutory services and to look at other social opportunities.

Helping another client who has CP and is a full time wheelchair user deal with the transition from child to adult services.  I act as an advocate for his case as his day provision has not been agreed once he leaves school due to staff shortages.  His mother was not getting the information she needed from Social Services so I helped to put in another official letter of request for provision.  I also met with his team leader and had an overview of his support package checking all the staff were working towards his goals.

I then went to see client who required urgent medical intervention as her needs were not being dealt with appropriately.  I chased this up with a letter to her GP and consultant.   I arranged a date for an MDT meeting and liaised with the therapists involved, speech & language therapist, physiotherapist and also contacted the school for their input.  After the day I drove home and had a glass wine!

How did you get started in the industry?

After I qualified as an occupational therapist, I stated working at the local hospital as an OT and also in Social Services where I worked with all different types of patients.   After 19 years, I felt I needed a change and it was a friend from University who was already working as a case manager who suggested that this would suit me.

Interestingly I had my tarot cards read at Botany Bay when I had an unexpected break in a journey home following a girl’s weekend away and thought I would give it a go. I was told that I would be changing my job and that I would be working in mental health, as she could see the mind in my cards,  she told me that I wouldn’t get the first job that I applied for but would be working in the field I wanted within 6 months.  I had already applied to A Chance for Life for a paediatric occupational therapist but was pipped at the post by an experienced occupational therapist however; I was contacted by the company shortly after and was offered the role of case manager.  I started the role exactly 6 months to the week after the tarot card reading.  Spooky but true, not that I believe in any of it of course!

What makes A Chance for Life different?

The company is very supportive and listens to employee’s thoughts and ideas.  The company is constantly evolving and improving and is very invested in staff and development.  Colleagues are supportive and the team is really friendly, plus they seem to like my baking!

What makes you want to go to work?

Enabling people.  We make a huge difference to so many people.  There shouldn’t be the need for case management but unfortunately there is such a lack of joined up working that there is a huge demand. I used to get very frustrated in statutory services due to the bureaucracy involved.   A Chance For Life Ltd enables me to puts my client’s needs first.  I also really enjoy sorting out a difficult situation and working with the clients and their families to work out solutions.

What do you think are the biggest challenges your profession faces today?

I think it’s an exciting time with an aging population and there are going to have to be some changes to the investment in rehabilitation and social care for our society.  I believe occupational therapy can play a huge part in helping to get people back to functional activity and into work if possible. We need to keep people as independent as possible for their physical, mental and financial well-being. It’s a win win situation if people can be made as independent as possible but it requires long term joined up working and investment.

What is your biggest claim to fame?

I am very proud of my brother-in-law and the man he has become.  He came to live with my husband and I as a teenager due to family breakdown and could have gone off the rails easily.  With love and support he has worked hard and he is now a happily married father and is an inspiration. His wedding day was one of my proudest moments.

I have another brother-in-law who is the Bishop of Edinburgh! Oh and I once won the Golden Basket Award for being first in the student union but last in the library!

What are your top three tips for someone looking to get their hands on a job like yours?

  1. Be flexible
  2. Be approachable
  3. Be organised