Occupational Therapist Emily Alden is our Uniform Hero!


Occupational Therapist Emily Alden is our Uniform Hero!

For occupational therapist Emily Alden, her white tunic and green trousers mean the world to her, representing the profession she’s dedicated her career to.

Emily first qualified as an OT in 2001 and has worked in various NHS trusts during her career, including Frimley Park in London, North Bristol, and Yeovil District Hospital, before she left the profession for 10 years to bring up her children.

She made a return to YDH in 2020 and worked her way up to a more senior OT position in our critical care unit.

The challenge of her role and ability of helping patients to make positive changes is what makes Emily tick at work.

“I care for the most unwell patients in our hospital, at a time when they’re at their lowest and can do very little,” she says. “It’s very much about looking at what’s meaningful to them and what they need to do, and can do, to help themselves to get better.

“It’s not always the medical side of care that helps a patient recover, as it’s often psychological too, so as an OT I promote activity – it’s very much the nice part of patient care I think!

“For the other part of my job, I work on our medical and orthopaedic wards where we look at helping patients to get home from hospital, so the latter part of the care journey.

“This involves helping patients to think about how they’ll manage when they get home, what they might need help with for their day-to-day life, and how we can make that happen.”

It was during her second stint at YDH, and the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, that Emily began thinking more about what the role means to her, and what her uniform actually represents.

“I genuinely feel that a colleague’s uniform is so important visually to our patients, as they see many different healthcare colleagues during their care, so being able to remember and recognise us can be really tough, so having a clear colour helps them during their stay with us,” Emily continues.

“During the pandemic everyone was pretty much wearing scrubs and masks, so we probably all looked the same to patients, but our white and green uniform colours give us that unique identity.

“It really struck home with me and a saw a link to the ‘Uniform Hero’ website and thought I’d have a shot at applying online.

“Back in the summer my youngest son was Googling my name – as you do – and it popped up that I’d made it to the Uniform Hero shortlisting, so that was nice to see.

“I didn’t honestly dream for one minute that my entry would be selected though, and I’d actually forgotten all about it, so it was a complete surprise when I got the award!

“It was only when my fellow OT colleague Hattie Bradley took me, unsuspecting, into a room one day, and all my colleagues were waiting and cheering for me that I realised what was going on!

“I’m not the quietest of people at the best of times, but I went so red and was really shocked! The Uniform Hero organisation had even made a miniature OT uniform on a teddy bear, which they presented to me – that was very cute!

“I absolutely love being an OT, it’s a real privilege as I think we get to do the best bits of healthcare. We get to know the person and we make a real difference, often a really vocal profession for them as we can shout out about what they feel they need.

“For me, what we do makes us who we are, and sometimes it’s the smallest things that we do every day, such as advocating for our patients when they’re at their most vulnerable in hospital, to ensure they feel that they have a role and identity despite being really poorly.

“A patient our team recently cared for was under palliative care, and the most important thing for her was being able to stand outside and feed the birds when she got home, so we did what we could to make that happen for her, by working with other health and social care teams involved in her care.

“In critical care, it can be as simple as the being able to brush their teeth, which we all very much take for granted, or being able to have their hair up or nicely done, which can make someone happy.”

Thank you, Emily for everything you do – you’re our true Uniform Hero!