VRA Awards Ceremony

DATE / TIME 05/12/2023
11:00 am - 2:00 pm


Help us to share some of the great Vocational Rehabilitation that you are involved with through our 2023 Awards

As well as awards for VR team, project and practitioner, here again for 2023 is the exciting VR Champion Award.

VR Champion

The VR Champion award is about acknowledging an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to enhancing the profile of VR in the UK. This would involve widening the reach and impact of VR practice through championing and/or promoting its development, provision and/or evaluation. It is open to individuals practising in any aspect of VR in the UK; including (but not restricted to) advisors, case managers, rehabilitators, and assessors.

VR Practitioner

Open to individuals practising in any aspect of VR in the UK; including (but not restricted to) advisors, case managers, rehabilitators, and assessors. contemporary, We want to hear about their approach to their area of provision and the outcomes they have achieved. This award is about acknowledging an outstanding individual practitioner.

VR Project

This award is for a project or initiative (as opposed to a person/organisation) from any individual/team/organisation in the UK. Projects may be innovative services/ products/ education/ research that contributes to outstanding VR practice and add to the evidence base. We want to hear about their aims and objectives, outcomes and impact.

VR Team

Open to teams practising in any aspect of VR in the UK. The focus is on the team as a whole: what they do, how they do it, why they do it together, and the impact of the team’s approach to practice. It is about teamwork and collaboration to facilitate effective and professional VR.

After last years event we asked the people who attended the awards to tell us what they thought. Everyone who responded said they learned useful information that could support their role and 94% identified organisations, individuals or projects they would like to connect with or know more about. They enjoyed most about the awards:

The diversity of each finalist and the passion demonstrated. All caringly organised and ran with real heart. Listening to the fabulous work that so many people are doing and the innovative ways they are enhancing lives. Great opportunity to learn about amazing VR practice EVERYTHING!

Book Your Seat HERE

Event Sponsored by Form Health –www.formhealth.com

Finalists have now been announced…

For the Project of the year Award:

Into Work – Mental Health UK 
“Since Into Work launched in April 2023, we have seen some incredibly positive results across our 3 pilot locations (Gravesend, Harrow and Wrexham)
Into Work’s approach builds on the evidence-based Individual Placement and Support (IPS)1 model which research shows leads to higher rates of employment and total earnings than other employment models. We combine the IPS Framework with wraparound wellbeing support that looks at the holistic needs of a person – their finances, housing, social connectedness, mental health support and more, before piecing together a bespoke action plan to support them into employment.”

Zurich Corporate Risk Raise the Alarm – dealing with Suicidal intent 
“Customers engage our VR when they’re supporting employees expressing suicidal intent. Sometimes we’re called to support customers managing a completion of suicide to offer prevention advice for the future. This provision has been created to support customers dealing with this type of distressing situation to help prevent loss of life.”

Vocational rehabilitation OT in primary care.
“Homerton Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (HHFT) and Hackney Marshes Primary Care
Network (PCN) employed an occupational therapist (OT) to establish a vocational rehabilitation
role within 5 GP practices in Hackney. Through supporting patients with common mental health
and/or Musculo-skeletal conditions to return to and sustain work following the provision of a Fit
note and/or signposting those unemployed to engage in other vocational services there has been
a significant improvement in vocational outcomes”

For the Practitioner of the Year Award:

Amanda Mason
Amanda has worked within VR since 2015 when she was embedded in North Bristol Trust M.E./CFS clinic as an Employment Adviser working on the pilot SEE ME Project. Her background of working in educational settings and the private and voluntary sector, including the National Careers Service gives her over 25 years’ experience of supporting people facing disadvantages, often related to health and disability. She uses her professional training to provide work coaching, job search skills and career redirection to enable people to get into and maintain work. Her
guidance background means that she approaches work related questions from a different perspective, using questioning techniques that enable the client to tell their story and reflect on their career journey. She’s passionate about the power of career guidance in helping people overcome disadvantages and fulfil their potential

Anuska Randolph Stephens 
This practitioner attained her PhD and professional doctorate in Health Psychology in 2018. Her career started in cancer care at Europe’s largest cancer centre and centre of excellence, The Royal Marsden Hospital, followed by a research role at the University of Cambridge. She brought this high quality experience with her when she joined the company at the beginning of 2022. She is deeply passionate about supporting individuals with their health and wellbeing, using evidence based practice to enable adjustment to illness, promote positive emotional wellbeing, and support individuals to remain in, or return to, work.

Nisha Kotecha
Nisha qualified as an Occupational Therapist in 2015 and moved into inpatient and then community OT roles, moving to work in a multidisciplinary team within the MOD Rehabilitation assessing functional and cognitive skills of serving personnel with acquired/traumatic brain injuries. Nisha started working in the Long Covid Service at Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust as a Vocational Rehabilitation Occupational Therapist in October 2022

For the Team of the Year Award:

Central Lancashire Long COVID Team 
The Central Long COVID team emerged in response to the urgent need to support people following acute COVID infection in 2020. An estimated 15–30% of individuals who contract COVID-19 will develop long COVID It has since developed into a multi-disciplinary team comprising of Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, and a Dietician, a CBT Therapist, a sessional GP and administrative support.  It is a virtual team.  It supports citizens living within the geographical areas of Greater Preston, South Ribble and Chorley.

Phelps Case Management Ltd
Phelps Case Management was founded in 2019 and has a focus on supporting clients who can fall through the cracks with Vocational Case Management due to cognitive, behavioural and/or psychological barriers.  Two of the three-person team are VRA members and have extensive Vocational experience – 32 years’ worth collectively. Two have Clinical Case Management experience specialising in Traumatic Brain Injuries and psychological challenges, both being CMSUK and BABICM members. By combining the knowledge and experience of the whole team, utilising a true transdisciplinary approach with other MDT members; Phelps Case Management brings an effective and unique approach to Vocational Rehabilitation within the Brain & Psychological Injury spectrum

Oxfordshire Post-Covid Rehabilitation Team
Staff from multiple NHS services based in Oxford (i.e. ME/chronic fatigue service neuro-rehabilitation, respiratory medicine and psychological services) came together to form the Oxfordshire Post Covid Service.  This provides assessment, treatment and rehabilitation to help people to develop ways to manage their symptoms through a variety of methods (e.g. advice on activity and energy, breathing and managing psychological reactions to symptoms).  Following establishment of the service, it was soon recognised that there was a need to address vocational needs, which was clearly a high priority for many of the people seen.

Finally, For the VR Champion of the Year:

Mandy Kelly

Mandy is a registered Occupational Therapist who for over 25 years in both Australia and the UK. She  has qualifications in ergonomics, is an NLP and MODAPTS practitioner, Functional Capacity Evaluator, OT Driver Assessor and has professional leadership, clinical governance, medico-legal and case management expertise. She has designed and conducted OH and VR assessments, functional capacity evaluations,  ergonomic evaluations, functional rehabilitation programmes in various industries including oil and gas, mining, manufacturing and construction to office-based government departments, health and education facilities. She pioneered the OT service provision for Atos Healthcare OH company within the Royal Mail OH service to deliver a new service to reduce sickness absence, return workers to substantive roles after many years of modified duties and improve work practices of employees. She assessed and compiled a suite of job demands analyses for the large and varied business roles and introduced functional capacity evaluations, job demands analyses to the OH service. Mandy has also held other roles in OH and VR, including Head of Professional Services of a personal injury rehabilitation company where she developed and implemented the clinical audit programme, professional development and clinical supervision programme for the multi-disciplinary team. She then moved into self-employment to deliver expert services in occupational health, vocational rehabilitation and case management for some years.

Dr Jain Holmes

Jain is an occupational therapist who qualified in 1990 and has worked in the area of vocational rehabilitation in the UK and USA for nearly the entire period in one form or another. Jain specialised in Vocational Rehabilitation and authored a book of the same title in 2007, in 2014 – 2017 undertook her Phd at the University of Nottingham focusing on vocational rehabilitation interventions for people with traumatic brain injuries (TBI), and continues to work in a number of vocational rehabilitation based national studies.

Fiona Mckechnie

Fiona has worked in NHS ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome NHS and charity services in London and Bristol for over 25 years. She has also worked within neurology, mental health, and community services. Work with Action for ME included an employment project embedded in an NHS clinic. Fiona has a post graduate diploma in Occupational Therapy. She completed a 4-year mindfulness teacher training diploma and a MSc with the Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice at Bangor University in 2016 and can teach both MBCT and MBSR which are the basis of the mindfulness for fatigue programme. She has developed a mindfulness-based programme within an NHS clinic and has taught mindfulness within primary mental health services, with the National Centre for integrative medicine and the Penny Brohn centre. She has been involved in therapist training at the British Association of Clinicians in ME (BACME) and the Pain Society conferences. She was co-author/editor of the BACME Therapist Guide and has recently become a trustee. She supervises OTs and mindfulness teachers in pain, fatigue and palliative care