Leah, Occupational Therapist | Staff Feature


Occupational Therapist

White Rock, Surrey
Community Mental Health
Health Science Professionals> Occupational Therapy
this story

I started my current position as an occupational therapist working on White Rock and South Surrey’s Mental Health and Substance Use (MHSU) team shortly after graduating from my professional masters program and have worked here for six years since. Throughout this time, I have had the opportunity to complete advanced training and education to work with a wide variety of clientele.

I love working with people on everyday goals to enable them to engage in their homes and communities in the ways that they want or need to. These goals can be small and practical, such as learning to ride public transportation or building a weekly schedule, to larger goals such as attending post secondary, volunteering, or starting a new job. I appreciate that I can work with clients over periods of weeks or months to help them bring these goals to fruition and hopefully, positively shape their lives in the process. It leaves me feeling hopeful to know that we can focus as much of our time on upstream interventions as well as everyday successes.

Working in White Rock and South Surrey, I like that it has a small-town feel. I think this has made it easier to build the sort of community connections that are necessary for me in this role. I have been able to get to know staff at other organizations that I have partnered with, such as seniors programs in the community, groups that accept volunteers, vocational programs outside of Fraser Health, and the folks running wellness programs in the community.

Our team has been able to build an environment with good morale and trust amongst the staff. My team is collaborative, kind and open-minded, creating a workspace where there is always someone to work through a concern or celebrate a success with. This makes most days feel easy, and I think better equips us to face any challenges together as a team.

I appreciate working with both my local team, as well as the rehab and recovery staff (occupational therapists, recreation therapists, vocational counsellors, and exercise therapists) throughout the region. The leadership team has done a good job of supporting these dispersed clinicians in finding ways to support each other’s practice and collaborate where possible.

A unique aspect of this role, I was able to undertake a few special projects. One memorable experience was where myself and two colleagues organized a community based art show at a local gallery run by the city of White Rock, to highlight artists within our program and partner programs at Options Community Services. This art show, entitled ‘Colourful Shades of Expression’ showcased the works of 25 artists participants working in medias such as watercolours, acrylic, and oil painting, fabric arts, photography, candle making, sculpture, sound art, drawing, and mixed media. The show was able to highlight the immense creativity and talent amongst our clientele. The transformative power of creativity participants have experienced in their own mental health and substance use journey as well as increase public awareness and dialogue in the wider community. The gallery show ran for three weeks on the month of October with over 500 community members in attendance. The Peace Arch Hospital and Community Health Foundation generously provided a grant that made this special event possible. It was a great success not only for the staff on our team and the artist that participated, but for the wider community.

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