Founder and CEO

Kerry Thornton

NZ Registered Occupational Therapist

BSc (Hons) Occupational therapy

MSc Health Sciences (Rehabilitation)

I have been an occupational therapist for 18 years. I graduated in 2002 from Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK. I am registered as an occupational therapist in NZ. Throughout my career I have worked in so many settings in the UK for the NHS and in NZ for ACC and MOH. I have experience of acute hospital wards for neuro, medicine and orthopedics, short term rehabilitation wards, a slow stream rehabilitation center, community and vocational rehabilitation, community and wheelchair services. My clinical specialty is neurological conditions like traumatic brain injuries, stroke, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, spinal cord injury and dementias but I can also help people with chronic conditions like chronic fatigue, heart and lung problems, cancer, anxiety, depression and diabetes with its complications like visual impairment and amputations. In occupational therapy the focus is not actually on the disease / diagnosis but on problem solving returning to the activities that are meaningful to you (please see the occupational therapy fundamentals page for more information). Furthermore, I don’t compartmentalize mental or physical health because the evidence suggests that people with mental health issues are more likely to get physical illnesses, and a physical medical condition can still be experienced as traumatic and affect mood. I have experience in housing modifications, wheelchair and equipment provision as adjuncts to my rehabilitation skills.

The original idea for Whole Support Services began on a trip to Antarctica in 2013. That gave me the seed and set me on the way to complete my Masters in 2016. I focused on family, cultural, psychosocial and cognitive factors affecting rehabilitation in addition to the core rehabilitation principles. My Master’s project was published in the British Journal of Occupational Therapy in 2017. It was entitled “Opportunities for a meaningful life for working-aged adults with neurological conditions living in residential aged care facilities: A review of qualitative research.” 

After I had done that my work in the health system just wasn’t fulfilling because I could see all the beneficial help I could offer as an occupational therapist wasn’t included, valued or desired in this health system. It has a different purpose, priorities and objectives to those with which I want to align. So, Whole Support Services began to fall into place during a trip to the USA in 2017. I studied business skills like sales and marketing, digital media and information technology, entrepreneurship, leadership, financial management and finally in 2018 it began to fall into place.

Additionally, for several years I have been writing, proofreading and editing medical or social documents for myself or others from academia, ACC and MOH employers, self-help and real life / contemporary writers or social enterprises. Some of my writing and editing projects can be found in the online shop.  I also have a background of teaching English as a second language (TEFL certification), educating, mentoring and supervising other occupational therapists and students. I am available to provide professional supervision, speaking engagements and group workshops though it is not a core component of the current mission for Whole Support Services.

I love to act, dance, sing, and travel. I speak French, German and Spanish (not fluently by any means) but I always takes every chance to practice. It all really centers around communication and storytelling and relationships. You might catch me in the odd TV show, movie or play as I have extensive acting and vocal experience both on stage and on camera. I am also regularly involved in as a volunteer in community events.

I have been a foster parent offering respite care to children for 7 years now and that is a contributing factor to my passion for strengthening of the family unit in the face of adversity. I am also a foster cat parent for the SPCA, a dog and house sitter.

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