3 minutes with Richard O'Connell

Associate member Richard O’Connell is gearing up to speak at next week’s Physiotherapy UK event in Liverpool. He explains why it means so much to him.


Richard O’Connell

What’s planned for Physiotherapy UK

First, thanks to the CSP for giving me the opportunity to speak at such a prestigious event. I feel privileged to be able to share my experiences and hope to demonstrate that development is an ongoing process that is only limited by one’s ambition.

I aim to share my journey of development, and that of my team of assistants, from its origins to where we are now. I’d also like to cover our breadth of work and share our vision, including how therapy apprentices are helping shape future service developments. I’m also passionate to share our award-winning learning disability employability programme and the benefits this brings to individuals, the trust and the team. It has created further development opportunities.

Tell us about your own recent award

I am immensely proud to have received the manager/mentor of the year award at my trust earlier this year. Indeed, I’m still recovering from the shock of winning as I was up against some truly inspirational and equally deserving managers. The Aspire awards are part of the Birmingham Children’s Hospital (BCH) NHS Trust’s Aspire project, which includes the learning disability programme. BCH Aspire is the name of our innovative programme that supports young people in having opportunities without limits. The awards were a chance for us to celebrate the fantastic work and achievements of the young people and staff working at the hospital. For me, the awards were extra special as one of my apprentices, Megan Sinclair-Brown, was named apprentice of the year for her outstanding achievements.

It’s great to see a support worker gaining such prominence, isn’t it?

One word springs to mind: absolutely! Those who know me are aware how passionate I am about the value we bring. My mantra is ‘seek opportunity and conquer’ – hence I will fly the associate flag in Liverpool. When I’m standing at the lectern I’m not only promoting what we do here, but I’m also standing proud to be counted as an example of the 2,000 dedicated associate members in the CSP family. This year is the 21st anniversary of associates becoming part of the CSP and I cannot think of a better platform to promote our role. Support workers have come a long way. With the ever-increasing pressures in the NHS, I believe they need to be at the forefront of manager’s minds in helping to be a solution to the challenges and financial constraints facing therapy services.

What is your approach at work?

I like to think that I approach my role with pride. I would never expect anyone in my team to do anything I would not be willing to do myself and, most importantly, I never forget where I started from. I see it as my responsibility to be a role model and know each member of my team personally. I aim to be aware of everyone’s needs and aspirations in order to develop, coach and mentor them to succeed in their role and enhance the service we offer to our young patients and their families.

You were on the CSP associates board – what did that entail?

This was a fantastic opportunity to both understand the workings of the CSP and to be part of influencing national policy and initiatives affecting associate members.

How do you look after your own wellbeing?

It’s about being able to switch off after a day at the office and therefore what happens at work stays at work . With ever increasing pressures, what is not done at the end of the day can be picked up again tomorrow – after all, we are not superhuman. I have a very supportive wife and three children so when home it’s family time, which is a great way to unwind. I aim to eat healthily and recently took up running. I am also fortunate to have a very supportive management team who I can confide in when needed.

Richard O’Connell is a therapy assistant coordinator at Birmingham Children’s Hospital

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