Trish Sweeney – OT and Access Consultant
Trish is both an Access Consultant and Occupational Therapist and has more than 30 years experience of working in the area of accessible housing. Her career has encompassed numerous access-related roles, ranging from community and housing OT to Access Officer for local authority planning and building control department and Access Consultant (housing specialism) for London based access consultancies.
Trish is founder and Director of Viva Access and currently responsible for the design and development of training courses on a wide range of topics pertaining to the adaptation and design of housing for older and disabled people. She currently divides her time between training, course development and the management of Viva Access.
Trish served as Regional Secretary to the Access Association and is a member of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists’ Specialist Section in Housing.
Carl Chappin – Housing Adaptations Surveyor
Carl is employed as Senior Adaptations Surveyor within a London Borough. He has over 30 years experience within the construction industry, including overseeing a team of surveyors and case workers to deliver the local authority’s statutory and non-statutory obligations with regards to home renovations and disabled adaptations.
Carl works closely with the local authority community OT service and supports OTs through surveying properties, drafting plans for adaptation proposals, preparing specifications of works and organising the installation of specialist equipment and alterations such as though floor lifts, automated access systems, door widening, ramps and so on.
Carl is a highly experienced trainer and has acted as training consultant to Viva Access for over five years. He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Building Surveyors.
Sara Glassberg – Housing OT
Sara is a qualified occupational therapist with more than 20 years experience working in both health and housing sectors. She has been based within a London community OT service for more than ten years and prior to this has worked within a range health and rehabilitation settings.
Sara is highly experienced in both Adult and Paediatric casework and carries out the full range of assessments and recommendations for a wide range of adaptations, including bathroom and kitchen adaptations, home lifts, ramps and DFG aided works. Sara is an experienced trainer with Viva Access and trains on general adaptations courses and also acts as specialist trainer on our children´s courses.
Specialism: Designing & Adapting for Children
Paraig O’Brien – Housing OT
Paraig is a qualified Occupational Therapist with more than 30 years experience in both health and social care sectors. He also has an MA (with distinction) in Disability Design Research (London Guildhall University).
Paraig’s career is multi-faceted and includes many years employed within community OT and multi-disciplinary services, as both caseworker and OT manager. He is also a highly experienced trainer/teacher and was employed for many years as Lecturer in Occupational Therapy at the University of Ulster.
Paraig has a number of specialisms, including legislation and policy, health service management, housing adaptations and community equipment, disability design standards and related OT practice skills. He has written extensively on these subjects (e.g. “Wheelchair User Housing Study: An evaluation of user’s experiences and the evolution of design standards”) and acts as consultant to a range of housing and health related bodies. Paraig is an active member of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists’ Specialist Section in Housing and served for a number of years as its UK Chair.
Specialism: Inclusive Housing Design
Shane Elliott – Housing OT
Shane is a qualified Occupational Therapist with more than 20 years’ experience working in both health and social care sectors and, since 1995, has specialised in the area of housing adaptation and design. He is an experienced trainer and public speaker, delivering courses regularly on accessible housing issues and presenting at conferences and access related public events.
Shane was employed until recently as Clinical Specialist Occupational Therapist in Housing for the Northern Health and Social Care Trust in NI and was responsible for providing professional support and clinical leadership for occupational therapists involved in the housing adaptation process, particularly in relation to complex cases. He has now been appointed as Housing Liaison Manager for the Housing Executive and Dept of Health and Social Services.
Shane is a member of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists’ Specialist Section in Housing and is the Northern Ireland representative on the National Executive Committee. He sits on the Design Standards Panel of Disability Action Northern Ireland.
Mary Stobie – Housing OT
Mary qualified as an occupational therapist in 1980 and has spent the majority of her working life practising in both Scotland and Northern Ireland, in community settings. She is currently employed in the Northern Health and Social Care Trust where she specialises in the area of housing for people with dementia. Mary has also been a member of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists Specialist Section in Housing.
Specialism: Designing for Dementia
Karen Walls – Housing OT
Karen has more than 20 years’ experience working in both health and social care sectors and is currently Principal OT in the Northern Health and Social Care Trust. She is responsible for providing professional support and clinical leadership to OTs involved in complex housing for service users with dementia and learning disabilities. Karen’s special interest is dementia and she is passionate about enabling persons to live well in the community with dementia.
Specialism: Designing for Dementia
Henry Belfrage – Housing Adaptations & Party Wall Surveyor
Henry is a qualified Building Surveyor and Party Wall Surveyor and is based within a London local authority surveying team. He has many years experience of housing adaptation work and liaises on a day-to-day basis with his local Occupational Therapy service, Repairs and Adaptations Service (RAS) and Home Improvement Agency (HIA) in relation to carrying out adaptations for older, disabled and vulnerable people within the borough. Works typically include accessible bathrooms, stair lifts, extensions and drafting of plans (via AutoCAD) for adaptation proposals.
He inputs into a wide range of both commercial and residential projects including refurbishments, extensions and repairs to residential properties or council assets such as offices, children’s centres, pavilions and shop units, demolition of small buildings and installation / relocation of modular buildings.
Laura Binions – Housing OT
Laura is a Senior Occupational Therapist working across health and social care in Dublin, Ireland. She has extensive experience of adaptations, equipment and other interventions for people with dementia. She is a member of the Association of Occupational Therapists of Ireland (AOTI) and an active member of the housing advisory group.
Specialism: Designing for Dementia
Rachel Frondigoun – DFG Specialist
Rachel worked for many years as Grants Officer (DFG) for UK local authorities and liaised closely with OT teams in relation to adaptations for older and disabled people. She is currently Director of Cherrywhite Consultancy Services Ltd. Her specialism is the Disabled Facilities Grant and she acts as consultant and project manager (DFG) for a range of local authorities across England.
Specialism: Disabled Facilties Grant (DFG)
Michael Mandelstam – Legal Specialist
Michael Mandelstam has provided independent legal training in health and social care for over 25 years. He has written many legal books, for example most recently on Manual Handling in Health and Social Care (2nd edition, 2021). He has also written several publications for the Royal College of Occupational Therapists. He worked previously at the Department of Health within the Social Services Inspectorate, and before that at the Disabled Living Foundation.
Anita Rush – Moving & Handling Specialist
Anita is a highly experienced Clinical Lead for equipment working in the NHS. She undertakes complex patient assessment to ensure that equipment provided is fit for purpose. Anita has published a number of articles and co-authored two book publications Chapter 12, in ‘The Guide to the Handling of People, a Systems Approach’ – 6th edition reprinted May 2013, published by Backcare The second publication ‘Moving and Handling of Plus Size People – an illustrated guide’ was published by the National Back Exchange in 2013. She has lectured for the Disabled Living Foundation, spoken at many national conferences on various topics Tissues Viability and Plus Size Management.
Craig Hill – Plus-Size (Bariatric Housing Specialist)
Craig is a qualified Occupational Therapist (BSc Hons OT) with almost 20 years experience of working in the social care sector. He acts as advisor to a number of specialist and multi-agency panels pertaining to accessible housing and is involved in strategic housing planning and design for new build developments as well as adapting existing housing stock to meet the needs of the disabled population. He is a long standing trainer with Viva Access and in addition to training on generic courses, he trains on courses relating to his specialism “housing issues for plus-size (bariatric) users”.
Laura Walklett – Tech & Training Support
Laura has been passionate about technology since she was very young. She is a friendly, patient human being, who takes working in the virtual world in her stride. A lot of her free time is spent pouring over the latest tech news and trying out new programmes – Laura is a self-confessed computer geek! Here at Viva Access, she is committed to driving the company forward in terms of technological advancements, troubleshooting and online administrative tasks (e.g. Viva Access is a 100% paperless company). Laura is responsible for ensuring the trainers are up to speed with the latest enhancements in online training techniques – resulting in fun, dynamic and interactive courses.