In Conversation with an Occupational Therapist – Ciara Hagan | SPD - Singapore

In Conversation with an Occupational Therapist – Ciara Hagan


SPD conducted a week of celebrations in January to commemorate and appreciate occupational therapy and the occupational therapists (OTs) all the world over.

Occupational therapy is a health profession that uses activities that are channeled towards specific goals to help people of all ages progress towards daily activities such as self-care, leisure, school and work. Participation in meaningful activities and essential roles help individuals maintain or enhance health and well-being.

We sat down with one of our own, Ciara Hagan, who has been with SPD for the last one and a half years, to find out more about the occupation and what is it like working as an OT.

1) What is a normal day like for an OT?
An OT’s normal day would depend on the setting that they work in. OTs may be stationed to work at hospitals, private clinics, schools, nursing homes and in the social service sector. A day may include completing initial assessments with clients, 1-to-1 or group sessions with clients. It also includes administrative writing of reports and notes as well. OTs also have to regularly schedule meetings with caregivers and colleagues that are also involved with the client, to discuss the goals and progress of the client, which will in turn help to plan for the next steps of progression. Apart from all that, OTs may also liaise with other services such as vendors for assistive equipment that might help the clients, such as wheelchairs, walking aids and dressing aids.

2) When and why did you choose to work as an OT?
I graduated as an OT in July 2015. When deciding what I would like to study in University, I was always sure of one thing – I wanted to work in the healthcare industry. I liked that the job allows me to explore working with people with a range of conditions, including those who have physical disabilities, mental or social difficulties either from a congenital disease or a result of an accident, illness or age. It exposes me to so many different experiences.

3) What motivates you in this job?
I am motivated when I see clients make progress and see how happy they are about achieving their goals.

4) What are some of the challenges of being an OT?
The challenges include trying to motivate clients with low motivation. At times, it can be a challenge to manage the expectations of our clients and their caregivers. OT is a profession that not many people know about and they do not know what an OT does. I think this adds to the challenges, as we have to constantly bring awareness to what we do and how we can help.

5) What is a quote of encouragement you would like to give to future, aspiring OTs?
I love this quote by Helen Keller – “I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.”

OTs set goals with their clients, which are personal to them. Although some of these goals may seem small, to achieve them is a significant milestone which leads to greater, more challenging goals being set. I’ve learned not to belittle the little things, because they all add up to something bigger, and greater.