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Award for graduate who helped vulnerable people

Tuesday 25 July 2017

A GRADUATE who worked with the fire service to help protect vulnerable people has earned an award.

Kim Walesby, who graduated with a first class degree in Occupational Therapy at the University of Salford last week, has been named student of the year at the Chief Allied Health Professional Awards for her work with Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service.

Kim, from Heywood, spent six weeks taking part in visits to the homes of people who had been identified as vulnerable by health or social services departments, such as people with dementia or other mental health issues, as well as the homes of people who had requested visits.

These visits were begun by Greater Manchester Fire Service in 2015 to help take pressure off other services and improve people’s safety, health and wellbeing.

Kim, aged 30, would use her occupational therapy training to carry out assessments of homes she visited around Rochdale, Bury and Oldham.

Working with fire service officers, Kim looked out for risks such as how easily someone with mobility issues would be able to leave the building, whether someone was at risk of falls, or whether someone with dementia might need special timers to help with cooking.

But she looked at wider problems such as whether the occupants needed referring to other services who could help deal with isolation, loneliness or mental health issues.

Kim said: “I think this made a real difference to people’s lives. I felt like I was promoting the profession and showing the value of what occupational therapists can do, as well as demonstrating how health and social care can work together with organisations such as the fire service.

“Carrying out this work really helped my learning as an undergraduate. It gave me the opportunity to develop my own skills and competencies in a creative and innovative way, while considering the wider context of health and social care.”

Christine Kenney, lecturer and role emerging placement tutor at the University of Salford, said: “Kim has clearly made a significant impression and it is fantastic to see her work being credited in this way.”