About Alison Biggs, Qualified Occupational Therapist
Fully Qualified Occupational Therapist
Following qualification as an State Registered Occupational Therapist (SROT) with BSc (Hons) from Oxford Brookes University in 1993, and registering with the Health Care Professions Council (HCPC) Alison worked within several healthcare fields (Medical, Surgical and Orthopaedics, Neurology, Neurosurgery and Neuro-rehabilitation) and also developed a special interest in Pain Management, with a focus on the treatment of Back Pain in 1995, whilst employed by St Georges NHS Trust at the Wolfson Rehabilitation Centre in South West London. She also developed her skills in Cognitive Assessment and client centered treatment approaches including assessing the individual in a holistic way and worked closely with other health professionals such as Physiotherapy, Psychology, Social workers and Medical staff during her time working in the Rehabilitation Centre.
She became increasingly involved in the treatment of work related illnesses and assessing the impact of other medical conditions due to accidents and/or other illnesses, both physical and psychological/mental health conditions on the working lives of individuals and their return to work plans.
In 1998 Alison was involved in a government funded New Deal for Disabled People project whilst working for Westminster Healthcare (now Priory Healthcare) in Leicestershire. Her main focus was to help people get back to work who had been off sick or unemployed due to a health condition. This was a most rewarding project and due to government interest, had a high profile within the healthcare industry. She helped employees in a variety of industries return to work, including in those the car manufacturing industry, the telecommunications industry and also leading national banks & building societies. It was and is crucial for the employer and the employee to be supported by a healthcare professional in these circumstances.
After this Alison was employed by Hammersmith Hospitals NHS Trust (now Imperial College NHS Trust) in London as a Back Care and Manual Handling Advisor, assessing the musculo-skeletal health of all employees in the trust; from the nursing and other medical staff through to the desk-based staff working on computers all day. All staff required education and training to look after themselves and assess the risks and ergonomics of their working environment, with advice to find practical day to day solutions.
Today more employers recognise the value of looking after their employee’s health at work. As a fully qualified Occupational Therapist, Alison set up Healthywork Ltd in 2001, to deliver Occupational health work related assessment services to employer’s directly via CEO/Directors or their internal HR/OH Departments or to independent Occupational Health companies, HR companies, Insurance companies, Case Management companies and Medico-legal organisations.
Alison and her colleagues provide a full range of Occupational Health based assessments, from Physical assessments, such as Ergonomic Workstation (or factory) Assessments and Functional Capacity Evaluations, through to Cognitive and Psychological Assessments, such as using a variety of standardised Cognitive testing tools and performing assessments of Mental Health needs in relation to work place adjustments and easing return to work. Hearing and vision assessments are also available, along with technical assessments for specialist IT equipment needs.
Many of the assessments performed have required a mix of the above, such as individuals having physical and mental health needs which need to be reviewed together, therefore the assessments aim to review the whole individual to ensure all advice required is provided, to help in the process of them being productive at work.
Alison keeps up to date in this expanding field taking an active role in several organisations. She is a member of the British Association of Occupational Therapists (BAOT) part of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT) and is an associate member of The Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors (CIEHF). She is also an active member of RCOT Specialist Section – Work (RCOT SS-Work), being Chair of their National Executive Committee (May 2017 – Nov 2019) having previously held other roles on the committee over the last 10-15 years.
Alison is also a member of RCOT Specialist Section – Independent Practice (RCOT SS-IP). a member of the Vocational Rehabilitation Association UK (VRA). and the Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM) and was a speaker at their annual Occupational Health Conference June 2017 and 2019.
Alison is also a volunteer verifier for the London Healthy Workplaces Award Scheme run by the Greater London Authority, City Hall, so is part of the network of experts who qualitatively assess employers against the nine standards of the award.
Alison regularly attends events such the Health and Wellbeing @ Work Conference and Exhibition at the NEC, Birmingham held every March, the OccupationalTherapy Show and the NAIDEX Exhibition. In the past, she has attended networks such as NEHIN (National Employment and Health Innovations Network) which helps to inform government of progress in this field and contributes to strategic development consultations within the field of vocational rehabilitation/functional assessments to help individuals to return to employment. These seminars then, in turn, update the practitioner on physical and mental health Government policy development. She contributed to the Council for Work and Health meetings/consultations in her role as Chair of RCOT SS Work.
Post graduate training is ongoing and Alison has attended Matheson Functional Capacity Training in 2003, Job Demands Analysis and Work Hardening training in 2004 and Ergonomic training programmes including the Matheson Ergonomics Course in 2011 as well as other training in Cognitive Assessment and treatment during 2014. Cancer and workplace adjustments, Mental Health/mental Fitness practice updates and Pain Management training updates in 2015 and 2016. Autism in the workplace and Sleep/Fatigue and work during 2018. Mental health, resilience and supporting mental health in the workplace and Trauma and Neurodiversity in the workplace during 2019. During 2020, she has attended webinars, on topics such as Mental wellbeing during covid lockdown.
Alison has provided assessments for the Governments ‘Access to Work‘ scheme over the years, in order that individuals can be assisted in order that they can remain in work.
Alison has spoken at Back pain prevention conferences for the British Dental Association, lectured on Vocational Rehabilitation at the National Back Exchange Annual Conference and to other groups of health professionals, including presentations on Functional Capacity Evaluation for the Physiotherapist members of ACPOHE. Other topics include running sessions on Ergonomics and mobile working and other topics to other health professional organisations and networks.
Our Associate Practioners
Healthywork Ltd has a number of associates who are all highly qualified in this field and have their own areas of expertise. These professionals can conduct assessments, treatment and training as required and allow us to offer a country wide service.
The strongest survive and go on to beat the competition.
A fit and healthy employee working at optimum efficiency is worth his/her weight in gold – and that’s where Healthywork comes in.
Healthywork can help businesses realise their employee’s hidden potential by advising them on implementing healthier, more effective work practices.
Our Governing Ethos
Healthywork is a company with a strong ethos, which can be summarised in the statement that “The prevention of ill health is preferred to injury and treatment.”
We take a medical approach based on sound experience and knowledge of the treatment of various conditions.
We are members of the Health Care Professions Council (HCPC) and make it our business to be up-to-date with research and best practice in our field.
We believe in working together with our clients to attain a satisfactory end and we have adopted an approach which combines the needs of business and economic realities with the desire to achieve well-being in the workplace.
What are the Benefits?
Your business is your people – without them there wouldn’t be a business.
That may seem an obvious fact but it is often overlooked.
Companies may think nothing of spending millions on machines and technology to improve efficiency but they don’t always consider the all important human factor.
If their employee’s are happy, healthy and productive they can achieve outstanding results.
Sometimes it takes just a few minor alterations in an employee’s working environment – perhaps changing the angle at which they work or moving their equipment – to make them feel more comfortable, can have a big impact on their output.
The services offered by Healthywork result in both business and health and safety benefits to employers, employees and other stakeholders in the workplace environment.
By using preventative measures and a consistently well-managed approach to ill health at work, significant reductions on Insurance premiums, both for Employers’ Liability Insurance and Private Health Insurance can be made.
The HSE report indicated that employee workplace injury and illness cost British employers an estimated 14.3 billion during 2013-2014.
Occupational Therapy involves Occupational Therapists working with people who have a range of physical, mental or social difficulties, the causes of which can vary. There can be difficulties beginning at birth or as the result of an accident, illness or ageing.
Occupational Therapists look at the individual as a whole and enable them to maximise their physical, emotional, cognitive, social and functional potential, through purposeful occupation, as part of a rehabilitation process. Occupational Therapists encourage individuals to do activities independently to the best of their ability.
The result of intervention enables people to make choices and achieve a personally acceptable lifestyle. This can be either the preparation for or return to work, or the development of the quality use of time through leisure, education, training or voluntary work, with the goal of maximizing health and function.
Occupational Therapists utilize a wide variety of strategies and techniques to assist people to achieve their goals and to promote recovery and independence, often finding solutions which are easy to implement and not identified by others in the treating team. Their perspective of performance and activity makes the Occupational Therapists approach different that of both a Nurse and Physiotherapist.
Occupational Therapists, knowledge, skills and attitude:
- Understand Health and ill health. Physical and mental health.
- Trained in activity/task analysis, such as grading the activity for the individual.
- Experienced in problem solving difficult situations and health needs.
- Able to assess the person, job and the environment.
- Skilled at focusing on function and reducing impact of illness or injury.
- Trained in assessment, observation and treatment techniques.
- Good communicators and co-ordinators.
- Able to understand the rehabilitation process and skilled team players.
- Understand Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) approaches to rehabilitation and condition management principles.
- Understand the roles of other health professionals and individual rehabilitation requirements
- Outcome orientated.
- Cost-benefit analysis aware.
- Mediation for the worker and employee. Collaberation is positive respect, believing that the client and the employer both hold expert knowledge regarding the situation.
- Assertive and able to face and resolve conflict situations.
- Understand the Equality Act 2010 and other legislation relevant to the individual.
- Use specific assessment tools to make the information gained more objective than subjective.
- Professional, discerning and optimistic.
- Understand that work is good for you and long term unemployment leads to poor health.