Seeking occupational therapists to join SMHS mental health services

Two women and one man standing outside together smiling.
October 26, 2022

Occupational therapists are an integral part of the multidisciplinary teams that deliver mental health services within the South Metropolitan Health Service (SMHS).

SMHS takes in a large geographic area that includes major metropolitan hubs, rural regional centres and rapidly expanding coastal towns. The service is anchored by our hospitals including Fiona Stanley Hospital, Fremantle Hospital (FH) and Rockingham General Hospital.

With increasing demand for SMHS mental health services, we are investing in new beds and services to support the needs of the community, and we are looking for suitably skilled and enthusiastic allied health professionals, like occupational therapists (OTs) and occupational therapy assistants to join the team.

Hear what it is like to work in mental health at FH from Senior OT Ken Yeo, OT Caitlyn Stine and OT Assistant Salome Chupa McKeown.

What is involved in your role in mental health?

Ken: As a senior OT, I have a role in supporting and nurturing the development of my peers by sharing corporate knowledge and clinical experience gained. I really enjoy facilitating evidence-based therapy groups where the skills taught in group therapy benefit our clients as they work towards their recovery process. It was an interesting challenge working out innovative ways to deliver care online during the COVID-19 pandemic, but I also learned so much from our community about how they rise to the challenge with us.

Caitlyn: I work one-on-one with clients to develop and build upon their skills to assist them to achieve their identified goals. I have also helped establish and facilitate a group program to help increase patient participation in activities on the Secure High Dependency Unit and develop social skills with other clients. The overall aim is to work with my clients to help increase and improve their occupational performance in the three domains of self-care, leisure and productivity.

Salome: Working with the OTs to help implement intervention plans and support clients in working towards achieving their identified goals. I work with the clients to develop and improve the necessary skills needed for their day-to-day living, establish strategies to help them to manage their symptoms and help to improve their social interaction and participation in the community.

What do you love about your role?

Ken: I like the sense of working for our community and I love the way we are always looking to improve not just what we do, but also how we do it. We work hard and are passionate about how we deliver the therapeutic opportunities within a group context. I am supported by my colleagues, and this makes facing challenges easier knowing that we are in it together with a common purpose. Witnessing the therapeutic impacts of what we do with our clients and their loved ones', and how it has meaning and purpose for them, shows the difference our collaborative efforts make. It is priceless and keeps me passionate about our profession.

Caitlyn: I enjoy the collaborative nature of my role and being able to work together with people from different disciplines to achieve the best outcomes for our clients. The people that work here are all very supportive and there is lots of opportunity for an effective, interdisciplinary approach to meeting the patient's needs. I find it very rewarding when you see a client making progress and are proud of what they've been able to achieve.

Salome: The best part of my role is when I see how therapy intervention impacts clients. This can be a very fulfilling thing to see and achieve together. Also, the opportunities to learn and expand my knowledge from my team. The skills I have acquired in the short time I have been here are so valuable.

What advice would you give someone considering applying for an occupational therapist role in mental health?

Ken: Bring who you are to the process, there is room for diversity and differences. Stay open and committed to life-long learning as there is always room to improve. Be prepared and ready to deliver care as you would expect for a family member or loved one.

Caitlyn: I would encourage them to come with an open mind, be prepared to be challenged within the role but know that we are a very supportive team and there's always someone who is able and willing to help out. There is lots of opportunity for growth and development and to be able to work in different contexts in the mental health service.

Salome: I would advise them that the FH culture is based on excellence. The clinicians who you work with at FH are more like family than just work colleagues. Working at a hospital like FH offers long-term career opportunities - it is such a lovely place to work and grow a career. Lastly the relationships you will be able to build with clients and colleagues are just amazing.

We are currently looking for a range of suitably qualified and enthusiastic OTs and assistant OTs to join our mental health teams across SMHS:

If you are an allied health professional with the skills and experience, visit our current vacancies (external site) within SMHS mental health or reach out and have a discussion with one of our recruitment team members by completing an expression of interest form.

SMHS are not just looking for locals either. If you are located in other parts of Australia or overseas, you are encouraged to follow in the footsteps of many of our staff who have decided to make Western Australia their home.

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