Foundations recently announced the winners of its National Healthy Housing Awards 2023, which celebrate the inspirational achievements of frontline staff, council teams, and charities in supporting people to live independently.
The awards, which took place on 5 December at the National Football Museum in Manchester, highlight the efforts of those working in the sector who ensure vulnerable and disabled people live in safe and accessible homes.
Recognising the invaluable contributions that housing occupational therapists make in the health, social care, and assistive technology sectors, the British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) sponsored this year’s Housing Occupational Therapist of the Year award.
Presenting the award at the event, David Stockdale, Chief Executive of the BHTA, said: “I’m delighted to be here on behalf of the British Healthcare Trades Association. We represent over 400 companies providing products and services for the health and social care sector.
“Our members know how critical it is to partner with you all to deliver the best possible outcomes that we can, so I’m delighted on behalf of our members to be sponsoring the Housing Occupational Therapist of the Year Award.”
The Housing Occupational Therapist of the Year award recognises the outstanding efforts of occupational therapists to enhance individual’s lives, overcome challenges, and contribute to the progress of the adaptations sector.
Neil Withnell, from Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust, was crowned as Housing Occupational Therapist of the Year with two entries. Described as an asset to the team and having single-handedly accomplished many great outcomes in 2023, Neil’s dedication impressed the entire judging panel. His efforts have resulted in the fast-tracking of adaptations for many living with deteriorating conditions.
On winning the prestigious award, Neil commented: “I was proud to be nominated for Housing OT of the Year 2023, by two of the organisations I work for, earlier this year. I could not really believe that I had won in Manchester – it has taken a few days to sink in! I am humbled and delighted to be awarded this accolade especially considering the strength of my co nominees, who all work tirelessly to improve lives.
“I work as a Specialist Housing OT in a newly commissioned role to develop and redesign housing and adaptation services, as well as provide specialist advice and expertise on housing, disability and relevant legal issues in partnership with Gloucestershire Health and Care, NHS Gloucestershire ICB, district housing partners, clients and carers.
“I have worked on a number of projects over the last 18 months, including the development of a Trusted Assessor model for the Disabled Facility Grant (DFG) and adaptations processes with nine Band 4 assessors now in post, as well as the development of a new fast-track pathway for those with rapidly-deteriorating conditions. I also campaign for new build accessible housing to be included in local plans and review plans for district councils. We intend to implement an accessible housing register for social housing in Gloucestershire next year to ensure best use of the precious resource we have of adapted or accessible homes.
“I want to thank Foundations for a day of celebrations at the awards and the British Health Care Trades Association for sponsoring this important award – it really helps the sector, in the wider world of Health and Social care, to get this work recognised.”
Sarah joined BHTA in April 2018.
After graduating with a Masters in English Language from De Montfort University, Sarah works across all BHTA publications (including AT Today and THIIS).