Skip to main content

Dai Davies: My Working Life

Published on: 12 Dec 2023

Sam Bhide - My Working Life

What did you want to be when you were at school/growing up?

I didn’t do very well in school and I’m from a very working-class background. I always wanted to be a soldier and I joined the army at 16.


What was your best career move?

After I left the Army, I went back to college to complete some GCSEs to become a police officer. Whilst at college I took up an opportunity to chat to a careers advisor. She suggested that I had lots of skills that would suit a healthcare profession and that I should consider completing an A-level qualification to access an undergraduate healthcare programme. I did this and 5 years later I was a qualified occupational therapist.


Can you describe your work/what you do in 1 sentence?

Influencing politicians and stakeholders in Wales on behalf of occupational therapists to improve health and social care.


What 3 factors make you skip into work? 

  1. I love being an occupational therapist and the opportunity to promote our profession is amazing.
  2. Working with members.
  3. Working with my fantastic colleagues.


How do you balance work and family life? 

I’m an occupational therapist so I understand that self-care, work and leisure are equally important to my wellbeing and that guides how I balance work and family life.  I take my breaks and use up all my annual leave. I use my supervision with my manager to ensure my work commitments are manageable.


Why would you recommend your career to a young person?

Lots of young people, particularly from working class backgrounds, don’t know a great deal about most healthcare professions and especially occupational therapy. Firstly, I would recommend that occupational therapy is a career for them and help break down some of the perceived barriers to entry. Occupational therapy is a fantastic profession where you can work across multiple practice areas, it’s a job that calls for a wide range of skills and continues to be interesting throughout your career.


What has been your biggest career disappointment or challenge and why, and how did you overcome it?

Clinically, I practised in mental health.  It was frustrating to see that patients’ mental health is often made worse by poor housing, lack of employment and lack of access to treatment, etc. Part of the reason I chose to come to work for the  Royal College of Occupational Therapists was the ability to influence politicians and stakeholders to improve conditions for our patients at a macro level.


What skills/experience/contacts from your earlier career have you found useful in your current profession and why?

I was an infantry soldier and was our team medic when I served in Northern Ireland. So I had a decent understanding of anatomy, healthcare terms and managing traumatic injuries. Also, the army instils confidence and self-discipline.


What’s the best advice you’ve ever got from a work colleague? 

Give time to patients to help them get better, stop being impatient and allow the patient to get better in their own time.


If you could go back in time and give one piece of career advice to your younger self, what would it be?

There is a big world out there with lots of opportunities. Be brave and seek them out.


If there was one thing you could change about your role or the physical or policy environment you work in, what would it be and why?

Healthcare won’t be able to deliver effective service without an effective social care system so politicians need to fund social care properly.


What do you hope will be your legacy to your profession and colleagues? 

That I was there for them, and I did my best.


Is the thought of retirement a dream or a nightmare – and why?

Dream, can't wait to get loads of dogs and walk the Welsh mountains.


What do you do to relax/de-stress?

Walking and spending time with my children.


Who has been your biggest inspiration?

Low-paid carers who get paid a pittance to look after the most vulnerable people in society but continue to do the job with grace and passion.


What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Drinking rum!


Where are you happiest and why?

With my children making up daft jokes.


Your most treasured possession and why?

Dog leads, because I attach the dogs to them and go for a lovely walk.


If you could change a law in some way, what would you change?

End tax avoidance.


What is the most dangerous situation you have ever found yourself in?

Serving in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.



Dai left school at 16 and joined the Royal Regiment of Wales, serving in the Falklands, Northern Ireland and London. He studied occupational therapy at Cardiff University from 2005 to 2008, and his first occupational therapist role was a band 5 with Powys Local Health Board working with patients with mental health.  He worked in the NHS for 10 years and specialised in adult mental health in the community and within the criminal justice system.

Dai also served as a Unison steward supporting his colleagues’ industrial relations, and as a county councillor.  Since 2018 he has been the Welsh lead for the Royal College of Occupational Therapists. His role is to influence stakeholders in Wales on behalf of the profession and service users.