Kirsty Stanley, BSc, BA, PG Cert, MRCOT. Director, Occupational Therapist & Writer at Occupation4Life Ltd. Long Covid Support Employment Group Member, Long Covid Kids Team Member, Long Covid Occupational Therapy and Living with Long Covid Facebook Support Group
Kirsty Stanley had recently left NHS employment due to ill health, after a 20 year career across the NHS and Academia. Her intention in February 2020 was to start her own Independent Occupational Therapy Practice and work part time, however Kirsty had a viral infection in January 2020 which exacerabted her asthma and meant that she never returned to her baseline level of health. She also developed other atypical symptoms such as voice changes, worsening fatigue, tachycardia and tinnutus. When the first lockdown occured the treatment she’d had for these exacerbations put in her a shielding group, as someone identified at risk of serious illness from COVID-19. During this time, too unwell to volunteer in the NHS, she became a Clinical Contact Caseworker working from home with a frontline view of the first pandemic not initially realising her place in the second pandemic of people with Long Covid. Over time, as other people with Long Covid began talking, writing about, and sharing their experiences online Kirsty found and joined Long Covid Support where she found her own experiences mirrored in those of the other members.
Kirsty joined the sub group of volunteer members with an interest in work and employment, based on her previous professional experience. Her previous substantive role with the NHS was with individuals with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) with a focus on providing an occupational therapy service emphasising fatigue management, cognition and vocational support. This provided the Long Covid Work team with valuable insights as she was able to build on knowledge from MS alongside awareness of the particular difficulties of those with this novel condition. Occupational Therapists are health and social care professionals dual trained in mental and physical health that support people holistically regardless of a clinical diagnosis.
The issues and experiences identified with regards to Long Covid and work were sadly not unfamiliar, but were being experienced by people on such an immense scale that it highlighted the long term inequities in supporting people with chronic illness in employment.
Kirsty is also working with Long Covid Kids charity to support the recognition of Long Covid in Children and Young People. Along with Long Covid Kids founder Sammie Mcfarland they developed the Cautious Tortoise guide to Long Covid Recovery which advocates an approach that is more tortoise and less hare. This is a principle that is equally relevant to adults, but who often have additional responsibilities that make this an even bigger ask. Adults of children with Long Covid are equally struggling with employment.
Along with the rest of the team Kirsty works mainly via zoom, and from the sofa, in order to make the most productive use of her energy.
HCPC Number: OT31146. Member of RCOT: BT0216473 Fellow of the Higher Education Academy: