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INVOLVEMENT IN ACTION
Solent’s Vocational Rehab Service supports people with a neurological condition or neurological (brain) injury, who are working towards getting back into employment.
The service provides occupational therapy through outpatient care, where patients receive physical, mental and wellbeing goal-focused interventions. The main aim is for service users to return to work, but the broader benefits stretch far beyond this, including: peer support, communication skills and confidence building.
Creating a space to be heard
The Vocational Rehab service is relatively new, and the clinical team were keen to understand what their clients wanted from the service, what worked and what didn't.
They started by establishing a client forum which meets regularly, and provides a space for past and current users of the service to have their voice heard. As a result of the forum meetings, the first big project that this service designed in partnership with their clients was the development of measures to track progress and outcomes.
Co-developing an app
The service users and clinicians jointly developed an app that set goals for independent living and skills development, to support the patients as they return to work. The key to this app is that it is jointly owned by the clinician and the service user; with both able to see a visual representation of the progress on a tablet or smartphone. The service users can know set their own goals and track progress, providing them with a stronger sense of ownership of their rehabilitation, and their therapy programme is tailored around this.
This approach to rehab, and the use of the app, is now integral to the running of the service.
As the forum continued to grow and work on further developments to the Vocational Rehab service, clients highlighted that talking and learning from their peers has helped them to achieve their own personal goals. This helped lead them to the idea for the second project; Group Based Therapy.
The idea was to offer therapy in a group setting within the service, as a way to focus on patients helping patients through their own personal experiences.
Selling patient creations
During patients’ time at the service, they made a variety of items as part of their rehabilitation, and so the forum suggested designing and creating items which could be sold at an event.
In early 2019, the first event was held with an Easter-themed stall located in the local hospital, and the proceeds from selling the patients' creations were used to buy more iPad-type tablets to support with therapy. A Christmas event is planned for the 5th December 2019.
The Vocational Rehab service is truly co-created and delivered by those that use it; clients are involved both in service delivery and in its growth and development.
This has given a voice to people who would not often be heard at significant transition points in their lives, and has helped boost their recovery by giving them ownership of their own service and rehabilitation plans.
Please take a look at the Vocational Rehabilitation Service twitter account for lots of examples of how this service is run collaboratively with its users, as well as lots of stories that will make you smile.
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