Kaim Choudhry is our occupational therapist at King’s Norton Hospital. Kaim has been an occupational therapist for three years. He tells us about his career background, what he enjoys most about his role, and why he wanted to pursue a career in mental health.
King’s Norton is our adult mental health care hospital in Birmingham which supports adults of all genders with severe and complex mental health conditions. In this state-of-the-art hospital we provide high quality intensive treatment in a clinically safe, caring and secure environment.
Can you tell us a bit about your career background and experience?
“Before I started my role at King’s Norton hospital, I was working for the NHS at St Andrew’s hospital in Birmingham, as part of a pilot team. My main job was to support service users who were transitioning out of hospital. Some of the service users had been in institutions for most of their lives and I supported, enabled and empowered them throughout the period from hospital to community. This ensured they had the right support care package in place, as well as opportunities in the community to encourage their recovery.
“Following this, I progressed to working in a senior role where I was building connections with local community organisations, local charities, employment services, and colleges to make sure I had a good knowledge of everything going on in the local area. I could then appropriately signpost service users to the services they required. The service users had mental illness and criminal records which made it really difficult for them to navigate their life. My job was about supporting them, breaking down barriers and giving them a second chance at life.”
When did you realise you wanted to work in occupational therapy?
“Previously my dad was quite unwell with a physical illness, and he had occupational therapists who visited him. I think the core skill of an occupational therapist is promoting independence, whether it’s through providing equipment, or skill development in mental health.
“I knew I wanted to be like the people who helped my dad because it was amazing to see how they promoted his independence and allowed him to continue working as a pharmacist. I also wanted to give back to people, and help them to live normal lives; whatever normal means to them.”
Why did you want to work within mental health services?
“When I was at university, I didn’t even know occupational therapists work within mental health. In my first placement in a secure unit, I knew right away I wanted to work in mental health, but it felt too good to be true.
“Working with service users, supporting them in their recovery, witnessing their skill development, and seeing them on their own personal journey is just so rewarding. I learn something new every day.”
Can you give us an overview of the ways in which you work with the patients at King’s Norton?
“I work with the patients on a 1:1 basis, as well as in groups. We run groups based on the interests of the patients, so the groups are meaningful to everyone. We want the patients to be motivated and engaged.
“The groups we run involve aromatherapy, kitchen skills, and community skills. We encourage social interaction within the groups, but most importantly the patients have a purpose to increase their skillset and to develop in their recovery. For example, a patient going to a coffee shop may seem like a small thing, but actually there’s a lot involved. It allows them to budget, communicate, engage in social interaction, and it makes all the difference to their development.”
What do you enjoy most about being an occupational therapist?
“I really enjoy the therapeutic side. I enjoy getting to know the patients for who they are. I like to find out how they function as an individual, their hobbies, the things they’re good at, and the things they need help with. I like helping them to make the most out of their current skills, and helping them to develop their skills.
“I enjoy being an occupational therapist at King’s Norton. I like promoting engagement and being visible on the wards.”
What have you achieved at King’s Norton that you are most proud of?
“I love being part of a patient’s rehabilitation progress and recovery journey.
“I’m proud of completing the functional assessments for patients to ensure they have the right support in the community, because if the patients don’t have the right support, they would probably relapse and end up back in hospital.”