A Swansea mum is on track to achieve her dream job thanks to a new university course.
Clare Rice (pictured above) has long harboured the ambition of becoming an occupational therapist working with older people, but her personal circumstances conspired to get in the way.
The root of her problem was attending one of only two universities in Wales offering the necessary training – Cardiff and Bangor – whilst raising her son.
The task proved unrealistic.
Instead Clare has worked for the past few years as an occupational therapy technician – an assistant role - in Ty Garngoch in Gorseinon, where she has at least been able to help a demographic she has a real passion for.
All that is about to change, however, as the 32-year-old has enrolled on the inaugural BSc in occupational therapy at Swansea University.
She said: “I’ve wanted to become an occupational therapist for a long time but my personal commitments meant that I couldn’t commute to Cardiff, or Bangor, but now the course is available in Swansea it’s a real asset.
“I’m a single mum and have to look after my boy. I wouldn’t have been able to commit to travelling back and forth.”
Clare has chosen to study for her change in career part-time over four years, which will allow her to continue in her present role.
She said: “My son is a little bit older now and I’m grateful for the moral support that I have from my friends and family. My colleagues and managers have also been really supportive and feel fortunate to have their support to do this over the next four years.
“I’m still working but my hours have been condensed – I’m very fortunate in that I’ve had funding to pursue this course.
“I’m really looking forward to the challenge. We’re a few weeks into the course now – it started on 19th September – and it’s going really well. I’m really excited.
“I would tell anyone who is considering such a move to take the plunge and be brave. Go ahead and pursue your dreams.”
Occupational therapists work to empower people to develop, maintain or improve a diverse range of activities that are relevant and meaningful in their daily lives, from basic self-care at home to work-related activities, hobbies and more.
Clare, who is part of the hospital’s Older Persons Mental Health Team, said: “I just love my job. Being able to empower people – their well-being and physical health through promoting independence.
“It’s very individual in how we support people, looking at the activities and daily living, and what’s meaningful for them. It’s helping people access their community or be more confident within their own home.
“You can work from perinatal (birth) right through to older persons – it’s very diversified.
“Working in mental health is a little bit different, you are looking at the same skills but trying to reduce associated risks.”
Cerys Owen, Clare’s line manager, said: “Despite being a very busy person, juggling work and family life, Clare is a kind and caring person who gives 110% to her patients and work commitments.
“She is totally deserving of her success in achieving her university place.
“All her colleagues in Ty Garngoch Primary Care team and the OT Older Persons Mental Health Team wish her every success as she starts her training to fly the green flag for OT!”