Kate Whiting's Story
Kate's Fellowship, in 1989, took her to the USA and Canada to investigate support services for children and their families following a burn injury.
Kate applied for her Fellowship when working as a junior Occupational Therapist. At the time, most of her input was directed towards adults and discharge planning; but she was very aware of the need to provide ongoing support post discharge to both adults and children. Her Fellowship took her to the eastern States of America and Canada; travelling for 6 weeks visiting hospitals and rehabilitation centres. Kate was particularly impressed with the support services available to children and their families following a burn injury.
On her return, Kate started the process of setting up a ‘Back to School’ programme, with other colleagues, to help provide child friendly information to the peers of children returning to school after a burn injury, using large puppets to deliver information.
A team of puppeteers were trained and ‘Back to School’ was launched in early 1992. The Birmingham ‘Back to School’ programme has been used as a model for the development of many other school re-integration programmes across the UK burns network.
In 2001, with the building of a new children’s regional burn centre at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, the opportunity arose for Kate to take a lead role in the shaping of rehabilitation services to burnt children. ‘Back to School’ continued, and with the changing diversity of the city three additional puppets were introduced.
Kate still recognised the need to provide long term support to families, with the opportunity for children and parents to share their experiences. Working closely with colleagues, Kate helped to set up a support group, ‘Enzo’s Friends’ – having fun together! Enzo’s Friends provides regular age appropriate events, some of which focus on specific anxiety provoking activities, such as cooking and swimming. There are regular newsletters, competitions, links with national burn camps and a website. The group is also involved in promoting accident prevention.
25 years on from her Fellowship, whilst recognising the dramatic improvements in rehabilitation services to burnt children, Kate remains committed to the continued improvement of occupational therapy to children with burn injuries.