Anna Sandiani

Job Title

Allied Health Professional (AHP) Lead for Older Adult Mental Health and Adult Mental Health

Where are you based?

In the community and on an inpatient Mental Health ward. Sometimes from home too.

Is your role clinical or non-clinical?


When you were at school, did you want to join the NHS?


What qualifications did you have when you joined the NHS?

1 BSc University degree, GCSEs and A levels. 

How did you come to work in the NHS?

I joined the NHS when I left University after completing my Undergraduate degree in Psychology at the age of 21.  I wanted to train as a Psychologist but needed clinical experience to be able to apply for this.  I worked as a Health Care Assistant in Mental Health.  Whilst working here, I completed a part-time Masters degree to train as an Occupational Therapist.

Once I had graduated as an Occupational Therapist (OT), I took several different jobs within Adult Mental Health and progressed from a junior Occupational Therapist to a senior Occupational Therapist and then to a manager of other Allied Health Professions (eg; Physio, Dietician, Speech and Language Therapist, Radiographer). 

Briefly explain your job

I complete both clinical and non-clinical work. I work as the Lead for Allied Health Professionals (AHP) in the Mental Health Services. My role is to provide leadership, training and support to all AHPs in my area. AHPs make up 14 different professions (Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists, Speech and Language Therapists, Music Therapists, Art Therapists, Drama Therapists, Radiographers, Paramedics, Podiatrists, Osteopaths, Orthoptists, Prosthetists, Operating Department Practitioners and Dieticians).

What do you love about your job?

I love my role as an Occupational Therapist when I get to work clinically as I love seeing the change in service users from admission to a unit- where to get out of bed might be the biggest challenge they can face- to being able to seek work, take back family roles and show pride in doing so.  I also love supporting junior staff and students to learn and develop and I have taught on the Undergraduate degree at Southampton University in my career history as well. 

What is challenging about your role?

I find it quite challenging at times working from home when I have lots of meetings (I have a young family which can be a distraction).  I also find it difficult having to manage performance issues/concerns with staff members who I know are really trying their best but not meeting the standards we have as an NHS Trust.

Which colleagues support you in your role?

My manager is the Head of AHPs and Nursing in the area – she is non-clinical. I am also supported by the individual Occupational Therapists in post – they are clinical.

Is there career progression in your role and how would you get there?

I have just progressed without the need for further qualifications. I could potentially progress into a Head of AHP role in the future – more experience in my current role would be enough to make this progression possible. 

What would you say to a young person thinking of joining the NHS?

It is the most rewarding place to work.  I have friends who have worked for private health care companies but have all returned to the NHS. The pay may not be as good as private health care, but the NHS is secure and transferrable across the UK. The benefits of working for the NHS go beyond holiday pay, sick pay and actual pay. They extend to teams and networks that are respected beyond the UK. I would never work for anyone else.

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