Another week, another Inspiring Business Woman on the blog. This week, I chatted with Corinna Keaney about her role as an Occupational Therapist. Ok I’m going to admit it … I wasn’t *entirely* sure what an Occupational Therapist’s job entailed. Thanks to Corinna, I’ve got a whole new perspective. Hope you enjoy finding out more too ….
Tell me about Corinna, the person & Mum?
Hi everyone, I’m Corinna and I am an independent Occupational Therapist. I am married to Shiva. We have two kids aged 10 and 8. We live in Enniskillen but I didn’t always live here. I grew up just across the border in Co. Leitrim.
At 18, I left home to go to university in Cardiff, Wales. It really was one the hardest and best decisions I have ever made. I was supposed to come home when I finished my 3 year degree but I actually stayed away for 16 years. I was too busy living life!
During those 16 years, I managed to pack a lot in. After graduating as an Occupational Therapist, I worked for 2 years in South Wales before moving to Australia for a year with a lovely guy I had only been going out with for 6 months! I then moved to England, got married (to same the same man I went to Australia with), had two kids & then moved to Enniskillen in 2013.
That’s my life story in a nutshell. I’ve moved house 20 times in 19 years and I’ll be very happy if I don’t see another cardboard box ever again!
I’d love to know more about your work – fill me in please …
I graduated in 2000 and have worked in a variety of settings and specialties across UK and Australia since then. When we moved to Northern Ireland in 2013, I took the opportunity to dip my toe in independent practice and I haven’t looked back. I have been fully self-employed for 18 months now and I love it. The flexibility it gives me and my family is amazing. I have a renewed enthusiasm for my profession.
As an Occupational Therapist, I believe the activities (occupations) we do every day provides us with a role and a purpose. If, for some reason (eg disability), we cannot carry out these activities, it can have many negative repercussions. Reduced self-esteem and self-confidence, financial implications etc.
I work mainly with adults who have a variety of disabilities, enabling them to regain independence over their lives. This could be something as simple as getting out of bed independently, having a shower, cooking for the family or driving the kids to school. Also things such as accessing the community, getting involved in their preferred leisure activity or getting back to work. To be honest, the list is endless. Anything you like to do, an Occupational Therapist can enable you to do it.
How do I enable people to regain independence? It can be a combination of things – specialist equipment, adaptations to home or work environment, different strategies and techniques and/or rehabilitation.
As an Occupational Therapist, I work directly with individual clients who need advice and support at home, in the community or at work. I also work with solicitors and insurance companies as a medico-legal expert witness or case manager regarding personal injury and catastrophic injury claims.
In Vocational Rehabilitation, I work with companies and businesses to enable their employees to remain in work or return to work after a period of illness.
I also love visiting care homes and facilitating meaningful activities for their residents. I was recently involved in a project bringing dance classes to three local care homes. It was so much fun. We saw a significant decrease in the reported cases of loneliness after our 12 week programme. It boosted self-confidence, self-esteem, mood and cognitive alertness as well as providing the physical benefits of exercise.
Phew that took a while to explain – I’ve yet to meet someone who can define Occupational Therapy concisely 🙂
Favourite place that you have visited in the world & why?
Oh!!! That’s really tough. I have been lucky enough to visit many different places in the world. I met my husband in Wales, got engaged in Tasmania, & married in the Dominican Republic! My husband is from Trinidad and Tobago, my in-laws are from India and my kids were born in England.
Can I cheat a little & choose two places within the Caribbean?? Firstly, The Dominican Republic because that is where we got married surrounded by 32 family and friends. It was an absolutely fabulous 2 weeks holiday even if I did have to share my honeymoon with everyone.
Then, Trinidad and Tobago (two islands, one country). We visit as often as we can to see my in-laws and friends. The weather is fab! Only two seasons – wet and dry but always warm. Trinidadians have a cracking sense of humour, the food is incredible & fabulous beaches. The driving is completely bonkers!!!! I guess it’s home from home.
Extrovert or Introvert?
I think I sit in the middle. In certain situations where I don’t know anyone, I can be very introvert. But in situations, where I feel comfortable I can be more extrovert but not too extrovert, it that makes sense. Goes without saying, a little glass of wine always helps!
I do need to work on being more extrovert when it comes to telling people about my business though. I much prefer to ask the questions rather than answer them. That’s why I opted to do your “5 minutes with…….” stepping out of my comfort zone.
Favourite way to spend the weekend?
With my husband and kids. It doesn’t matter where we are as long as we can block out the world & relax. I love to chill out with nice food (which I didn’t have to cook), a few drinks, a good book or movie and take in a nice walk somewhere in beautiful scenery. Oh, and the sun must be shining!
If you had only one sense (hearing, touch, sight, etc.), which would you want & why?
Funnily, I was discussing this with my son only yesterday. If I had to choose, I think I would choose to keep my sight. Your eyes enable you to create memories in a way other senses can’t. Think about the old silent movies – you can still follow the story line despite no one saying a word. For many years, my organ donor card said “take anything you need except my eyes” because I felt they were the gateway to my memories. I have changed it now. If someone needs my eyes when I am gone (not before!) they are welcome to them.
If you could do anything, besides what you’re doing now, what would you do?
More than anything, I would work to combat loneliness in our society, for all ages. There are so many people living alone. They don’t see anyone from one day to the next.
I would love to set up a variety of groups which provide support and access to a range of activities and a befriending service. Not everyone like to join groups but may like the company of one other person. The Occupational Therapist in me, believes very strongly that we engage in meaningful activities to improve our physical & mental health and well being.
If you got to name a new country, how would you decide what to call it?
Is it a cold or warm country? If it was a cold country I probably wouldn’t be interested in calling it anything. I’d leave it to someone else. I had to ask my son for advice on this one. He has suggested calling a warm country “Palm” so there you go!
If you were to create a new cocktail, what would you call it & what would it include?
Mojitos have to be my favourite cocktail but I’m somewhat unimaginative when it comes to creating new things! I usually mix a variety of fruit juices with vodka or rum and keep adding until it’s drinkable. Quite often too drinkable. Is that really bad? To be fair, there’s only one thing you could call it – Corinna’s mess. The difficulty would be trying to get it taste the same every time!
Who are you the closest to and why?
Probably my husband. He’s very easy going, funny, patient and can show great objectivity when it comes to life’s predicaments.
What’s your favorite thing about your current job?
Meeting people and making a positive difference to their lives. Following my time with my clients, I will have enabled them to become independent in some aspect of their life. This could be as simple as being able to shower independently, drive the car, manage their money, partake in their favourite activity or return to work.
I feel very privileged to often meet people at their most vulnerable but then help them to make their own situation better.
What’s the first concert you ever attended?
When I was about 17, The Smashing Pumpkins came to The Point in Dublin in and I went along with my two friends. That was one heck of an introduction to live concerts! People were allowed down from the stands onto the main floor area, where we were. (It would never be allowed to happen now). There was a lot of pushing. The floor area was over crowded. You had no choice but move with the crowd. Unfortunately a young girl got crushed very badly and subsequently died that night in hospital. The band walked off the stage when she got injured and the concerns ended prematurely. It was a very surreal experience.
Where is your happy place?
I don’t really have a happy place. For me, it’s all about the people I am with. However, if I was to be alone, my happy place would either be curled up in front of the fire with a glass of wine and chocolate or sitting by the sea listening to the ocean. I could sit and listen to the ocean all day & night provided the sun is shining.
Was the last thing you read digital or in print?
The Handmaid’s Tale. I enjoy reading when I have a good book but I don’t make enough time for it.
For what are you most grateful today?
Without hesitation, my health and the health of my family & friends