Dr David Haines
146 Robert Dodd
Telephone: +44 (0)1273 643661
In 1992, after a change of direction from a previous career in law, I began working with adults with learning disabilities in North London. I worked for Penta Housing in the London Borough of Barnet, supporting people with moderate, severe and profound learning disabilities to make the transition from long-stay institutions to living in 'ordinary houses in ordinary streets'. This was an exciting time to begin a career in this field, being part of a then relatively new idea of 'care in the community' and working for an organisation that actively sought staff without a history of working in the former institutions and who might support people in different and more empowering ways.
The experiences I had enabling people to engage in activity and to build relationships at home and in their local community (both at Penta and also subsequently at the Camden Society and Wandsworth MIND) might seem an obvious route into a career in occupational therapy. It was, however, only a chance meeting with a Brighton student that made me aware of this possibility. Suddenly realising that there was a profession so closely connected with the work I had been doing as a support worker, I immediately applied for the University of Brighton (then) PgDip Occupational Therapy Course in Eastbourne and had an inspirational two years studying, whilst continuing as a support worker part-time, until qualifying as an occupational therapist in 2000.
I worked as an occupational therapist with people with learning disabilities for the next nine years, and have particularly fond memories of the wonderful start to my occupational therapy career, provided by four years in the Community Team at the Martyn Long Centre in Horsham, West Sussex. I subsequently gained additional experience as an occupational therapist working in similar teams in Brighton and Hove, Guildford and the London Borough of Wandsworth and then in the therapy team at St John's College in Brighton.
I joined the School of Health Professions (now Health Sciences) at University of Brighton as a part-time Senior Lecturer in 2006 and have worked there full-time since 2009. I teach on both pre-registration occupational therapy courses, but my main involvement has been with the part-time BSc Hons Occupational Therapy course, which I joined very shortly after its inception. I became Course Leader of this course in 2012.
As a small profession in the field of learning disabilities, occupational therapists have been noted to take advantage of opportunities to network and I enjoyed four very stimulating years on the National Executive Committee of the College of Occupational Therapists Specialist Section – People with Learning Disabilities. I became Research and Development and Education Lead on this committee and a chance opportunity to complete a research study for them with Alison Lillywhite (the subject was occupational therapy and people with learning disabilities) reawakened my interest in research and in how this might improve the support provided to people with learning disabilities.
Around the time of the publication by the College of Occupational Therapists of the findings from our study, I began a PhD at University of Brighton (completed October 2015) in which I explored the ways an occupational therapist supported people with profound and multiple learning disabilities to engage in their occupations at home.