By Wendy Campbell: Kate Henderson is a good example of how studying the principles of occupational therapy provides the groundwork for working in a variety of fields. She left academics and Canada in 1986, having studied international relations, economics, English and French. Landing in England, she worked in a travel agency and as a cleaning lady until she met Mick, an OT working in mental health in Sheffield and life changed both personally and professionally.
“It’s interesting and always easy to get work”, Mick said, and the two of them returned to Canada and Kate began her studies at University of Toronto, graduating in 1991 with a BSc in OT. Her first job was at Queen St Mental Health Centre, where she developed a taste for recognizing problems, researching the causes and trying to come up with solutions. She got some on-the-ground experience at Community Occupational Therapy Associates (COTA) and more specific clinical skills in the stroke unit at West Park Healthcare Centre. In 1994, England beckoned Kate and Mick, now a married couple, and they settled in Bristol where Kate worked as an OT in community services. They moved to London in 1996 where Kate took locums in community and social service agencies, becoming increasingly interested in the foundation of health care systems.
In 2002 she was accepted into the Masters programme in Health Planning and Financing at the London School of Economics. Since graduating, she’s continued working at LSE in the Personal Social Services Research Unit, initially interviewing relatives of residents of care homes about the effects of having to move from one home to another. Since then, she’s been involved in evaluating the cost effectiveness of a range of health care interventions.
In 2009, Kate began working on a PhD, studying the economics of telecare and telehealth in England. As well as working full time and her academic program, she made frequent trips back to Canada to manage care for her mother whose health was declining. In spite of this demanding schedule, Kate successfully defended her thesis last year, was granted her doctorate and continues her work at LSE. As Dr Catherine Henderson, her particular work now focuses on the cost effectiveness of dementia intervention, an area that touches us all in some way, personally, professionally, sometimes both.