Catherine has been at NFDC for a little over a year as an occupational therapist for Housing; 'I help our tenants with disabilities to live more independently.'
Part of Catherine's role is to assess and recommend adaptations to the home that would be helpful to our disabled tenants. It could be providing lower worktops in the kitchen so that a wheelchair user can cook a meal for themselves, switch a bath for a walk-in shower or add a rail by the toilet. She tells us 'You'd never guess how much time I spend talking to people in their bathrooms - asking them to get on and off their toilet or show me how they manage to get in and out of the bath.'
It has been challenging, but working during the coronavirus pandemic has given Catherine one of her proudest moments - working with the county council and colleagues in the housing team to source materials and equipment so that a disabled client could move into a suitable property during lockdown. Catherine explained 'It was difficult because a lot of the normal suppliers and processes were not operational, so it took a lot of coordinating, collaboration and joint problem solving. Ultimately it meant the disabled client could move out of residential care into a NFDC property that had been adapted to meet his needs and free up a bed to care for another patient at a time when more beds were needed to help the NHS.'
As well as working with tenants and surveyors on adaptations, she advises the housing allocations team to help them prioritise applicants waiting to be rehoused and understand how a person's health and wellbeing is being affected by their home situation.
Catherine had a few ideas of how to describe her job as a newspaper headline. 'Helping people to live, not exist' topped the list. She also suggested 'Improving lives, saving money' - because she's keen to encourage council departments to work together to provide a more responsive service for disabled tenants, and create efficiencies for NFDC. "I want to help colleagues to understand the value they can add by being open to collaborating, changing what was always done or approaching something differently.'
We asked Catherine to tell us a random fact: 'Switching to renewable energy reduces greenhouse gas emissions and helps protect the planet'. This is good advice we can all follow, especially if we share a love of 'The beauty and diversity of the area we work in' - one of Catherine's favourite parts of working here at NFDC.
Thank you Catherine.