Jo Conway, Occupational Therapist (Leeds West Community Mental Health Team, Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust)
Jo Conway is an Occupational Therapist – but what does that mean? In this case, ‘occupation’ means anything that people do, and want to do. Jo supports people who have physical and mental health problems that are getting in the way of them doing what they want and need to do. Jo regards people in her role as ‘problem solvers’ – she finds ways to help people.
This starts when someone is referred to her team, often by a GP, due to a difficulty they are going through such as depression, severe anxiety, dementia or a physical problem which is affecting their mental health, often making them socially isolated and lonely. Jo, or one of her colleagues, will visit to carry out an assessment and start to build a relationship. She frequently links people up to specialist services, including voluntary organisations such as BEA, or a Food Bank, or social care. She is very conscious of how someone’s environment can affect them, and can also help get physical adaptations or with housing if necessary. She usually works with someone over 6-8 sessions, and people can also get telephone support and can ‘come back’ if they need more support.
“It’s a great job. I meet some
Jo works with adults of any age. Her role is important for older people because of the frequency of anxiety, depression and memory problems and a decrease in motor skills. She can really help with everyday living and help increase people’s confidence.
Jo is part of a very supportive team which as well as OTs, includes mental health nurses, health support workers, social workers and psychiatrists. She loves the job, especially building a positive relationship and the many times when she can see little things improve for people that make a real difference to their lives. She finds the paperwork challenging and doesn’t like having to tell people that they may not be able to do something, such as recommending to someone that they can no longer drive safely.
“I was an extra on Emmerdale
for 28 years!”
Jo used to be a self-employed community hairdresser and beauty therapist! It was through building relationships with people she visited in their homes, and seeing people open up, that she discovered a skill and a love for such work and decided to re-train. After an access course she did a three year degree at Huddersfield University.
Jo grew up in West Yorkshire and has been working in West Leeds since 2015, after a spell in Keighley. She has five children, aged 10-31, and is very family-orientated. Her whole family are big Huddersfield Town supporters. Jo was also the youngest and longest-serving extra in Emmerdale – for 28 years from the age of 9!