My dad’s a freelance Occupational Therapist. I’ve known this vaguely for about 8 years, but when I heard the word ‘occupational’ I thought ‘sounds tedious’ and then paired with ‘therapist’ I just tried not to think at all, ever again. (Because Therapists are all mind readers and parents shouldn’t have that skill).
I never actually knew what his job involved, until I was recently stuck next to him travelling at an average driving speed of 12mph for two hours… thanks Leicester traffic… but I promise; it’s not as boring as it sounds.
I asked him “Dad, you work freelance right? How did you build up your solid client-base?” and he replied “Ha! You’re kiddin’ right, nobody ever wants to work with me! In fact, ‘The Last-chance Guy’! is what they call me…”. “Erm, whaaaaaat?” I said, “Yeah! ‘The Last-chance Guy’! I work with patients who have suffered major physical injuries, so most of my clients think to themselves: “This guy hasn’t got a clue, with his creative waffle, home-made gadgets and no PHD. But we can’t get this patient to get out of bed, so we’ve got no other option but to give this idiot a chance…” and then I get the guy to get out of bed within half an hour.”
Patients that dad works with vary in age, location and injury. Some have had car accidents that weren’t their fault and have suffered terrible memory loss, others have physically disabling injuries and can hardly move, but have a fully-functioning mind. Whatever the limitation is, it’s my dad’s job to help with the mentality and wellbeing of each patient. This can be pretty challenging, especially when most patients also suffer from depression.
Dad’s a creative guy, good with technology and has always been a tinkerer, you know? Building go-karts out of wood, painting, taking photos, buying new gadgets, playing every instrument in the band, building car engines from scratch and using bits of old washing machine parts to build an interactive iPad game for a seven year old who can’t move her hands very well due to some idiot driving too fast.
It makes me sad that so many industries, I suppose the medical one in particular, rule out creatives from their team. That’s what creative people do; they create solutions and solve problems, in a way that nobody else would think of.
Both the hospitals and the patients are lucky to have someone like dad on their team, because not only does he genuinely care for the well-being of the patient, but he makes them smile for the first time in months. Sometimes years.
Every team needs some creativity, so stop resorting to it as a last chance. Or I’ll set my internet-hacking friends on you :)