Blog Post, Occupational Therapy

College of occupational therapist 39th Annual conference, June 30th –July 2nd 2015 Brighton. #COT2015

I’m on the train home from Brighton after attending this year’s conference, and trying to use the time productively to write a blog about what I have seen and learnt.

Before the conference I downloaded the COT conference app, which can be downloaded from any app store for free, this was a great resource, both before and during the event. I spent time picking what I wanted to attend reading their abstracts and viewing any posters that had been uploaded.

Day 1.IMG_8448

Registration started from 11.30 after which I had the time to put up my poster, and add my face to the Twitter wall of fame.
We were welcomed by Julia Scott (CEO of COT) and Sara Foster (chair of council) as we walked in to the opening plenary. Julia then opened the conference by introducing Ruby Wax, who entertained the audience with her wit, her recovery story and her move to become a CBT mindful therapist. If I’m honest I was disappointed that she did not really link her talk to OT, however she gave an insight into her depression stating “depression is not about sadness, I could not get out of my chair”. She expressed a belief that mental health should be explored within the school education system and that by teaching children about menIMG_8461tal health and giving them tools like mindfulness to cope with their emotional issues this would equipment them for life. Ruby advocated trying new occupations, which can help with the recovery progress. She went on to explain how mindfulness, slowing down, and focusing on the moment can all help with your overall emotional wellbeing.

Mindfulness as a therapist is something I have not used, I have attended some session about mindfulness, but always want to ensure my interventions are occupation focused, I think Rudy’s talk and the twitter chat about what she was saying has helped me further understand how mindfulness can help with engaging in both routine and new occupations.

Challenge no 1. Look at how my team can introduce mindfulness in to our timetable.

IMG_8470My first workshop was Session 4 – How to measure your continuing Professional Development and how the TRAMm Model can help. Ran by Sarah Lawson and Deb Hearle.

Twitter account @TRAMMCPD


TRAMm (Tell, Record, Activity, Monitor, Measure) is a model I first become aware of in an #OTalk more than a year ago. I have begun to use it for my CPD and appraisals at work, but always struggled with the monitor part. I really enjoyed the workshop it gave me confidence that I was using the model correctly and further ideas about what was meant and how I could evidence the measure part better.

Challenge number 2 revisit the TRAMm model and get my CPD up to date, improving how I measure my CPD. 

Welcome drinks followed this, a great chance to do some networking. To finish off the night I met with 18 other OT’s and student for an OT curry night – http://currynighttees.wordpress

Day 2

The opening plenary speakers was Suzanne Rastrick @SuzanneRastrick

Suzanne is the Chief Allied Health Professions officer at NHS England, she aimed to give us an overview of how the general election results will impact out profession.


She began by reminding us of the government priorities for health which include obesity, diabetes, general practice and the culture of the NHS. Understanding what the commissioners big picture looks like is vital, and she focused her address on how we has AHP’s can ensure commissioners and the government understand what we do and why we do it, giving us some useful resources like the commissioning for outcomes guide and how the impact of OT may be demonstrated through long term qualitative outcomes

Suzanne argued that commissioners don’t understand OT, as we don’t focus on explaining what occupation really means, she highlighted when service users are given their own budgets it’s OT’s and AHP services they are often choosing to purchase. She encouraged us to sell ourselves better, within our services and not to be afraid to use our words in doing so, she also advocated using social media as an away to connect and engage with wider audiences.

Her words were brought home even more, during the coffee break when I was at the IMG_8612COT stand among the exhibitors exhibition, picking up flyers for this years OT week 2nd -8th November 2015 – which is focusing on getting us to demonstrate how OT improves lives and saves money through early intervention and prevention.

Other highlights from the exhibitor’s hall were catching up with the South East BAOT regional group, filling in their survey monkey and discussing how the conference is coming to the Northern and Yorkshire region next year.

I also spend time talking with Imply showers and hearing how they are working alongside OT’s to ensure their products are the best they can be. Another great idea I came across was from the stair lift recycling service, who also recycle mobility scooters.

Challenge number 3 – to ensure within my service the voice of occupational therapy is both heard and fully understood, along with thinking about and developing a plan for how best to promote OT within the trust, and wider for this OT week.

I attended session 16 –papers

 The role of occupational therapy in forensic settings: reducing risk of reoffending Connell C,
 Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust, UK – Connell explained her research themes were occupational perspective of risk assessment and formulation. Volitional realignment, developing protective factors, community integration, and enhancing understanding. She explored OT’s understand of the volitional contribution to offending and how OT’s can use occupation to realign that behavior.

How do people with mental health and substance misuse problems experience belonging? Blank A1, Semb R2
University of Worcester, UK1, Buskerud and Vestfold University College, Norway2. Blank explored if doing was connected to a feeling of belonging, she explained how those with mental health problems might have barriers to belonging, these included early family experiences, embodied feelings of belonging, concluding that doing is important for health and well being but may not be necessary for belonging.

I found these papers of interest, reflecting on the importance of occupation and its power to change lives. The concept of belonging made me think about where OT to should carried out in hospital, does an OT department environment create a since of belonging?

During lunch time I meet up with a friend from a mental health trust in London, who wanted a twitter lesson, in order to introduce it as a tool in their next in service conference. Twitter as a CPD tool is something I have been exploring over the last few years, and find it an invaluable resource. What is great about COT conference is they have really embraced twitter as a major part of the event. Giving priority seating to tweeters. Engaging in twitter within a conference is a hard skill to master but one worth having ago at. I feel it has improved my ability to multitask, and find it helps me concentrate better on what the presenter is says, waiting for that key message to tweet. Tweeter has become my note book, and can easily be turn in to CPD evidence with tool like storify here is mine form #COT2015

The hash-tag #COT2015 was treading throughout the conference at its peak hitting the number two spot within the UK, see all the twitter states here
IMG_8615Therese Jackson (@therese_jackson) gave this year’s Elizabeth Casson Memorial Lecture
 – Pushing the boundaries and leading the way. Therese is a Consultant Occupational Therapist in stroke, internationally renowned author and presenter.  Therese spoke about how Occupational therapy is promoting itself including the Guardian pull out earlier in the year, but reminded the professionals that while not in the public eye as much as other health professions, we should not become complaisant and remember the learning from the Frances Report to in general, ensuring that we deliver the best service possible. Therese made reference to the HCPC document preventing small problems from becoming big problems in health care, and the #mynameis campaign.

Therese gave examples within her own work and research of person centered care, putting both cost effectiveness and a good experience for the service user together. She made us think about if our interventions are truly client centered and meeting the needs of that person. We will be able to read the full lecture when it is published in BJOT.

Challenge number 4 – are mine and the intervention of my team truly client centered, or just what we have always done? Further refection and discussion to be had with the team.

IMG_1182My next session was Exploring the added value of using football therapeutically Pettican A1, Hynes J2, Pearson D2
University of Essex, UK1, Positive Mental Attitude Sports Academy, UK2. We heard from a service user who engaged in a football group as an adult mental health inpatient and moved to co facilitating a football team in the community with peers. There was lots of group discussion in the group about football and other sports, I reflected on how I could make better use of the football facilities we have on the PICU and intend to take this back to the ward manager for further development.

Challenge number 5 – improve the access to football and sports.

Wednesday was also the gala dinner, after a quick turn around we ventured to the Hilton hotel for lovely food, networking and a bit of dancing.

Day 3 

The third day was kicked off with Recovering ordinary lives: the next steps session. Led by Genevieve Smyth (@GenevieveSmyth), the College’s Professional Advisor, Mental Health and Learning Disabilities, together with Karen Morris,(@morrisKOT) Research and Development Lead from the College’s Specialist Section – Mental Health.’

They are currently analysing the results of a recent survey hosted on COT/BAOT website, which had 145 respondents. There was a discussion the importance of evidence based practice and some quotes from both commissioners and service users of the recovering ordinary lives document.  Comments from the audience stated that therapists need to ensure that they publish their research work and the positive impact on both service users and cost-effective services.

Next was session 67

IMG_867467.1 Making occupation matter in an intensive eating disorder day service Sørlie C, Cowan M South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, UK, they showed how  OT role within eating disorders, had been changed to ensuring occupation was at the heart. One way was to introduce an occupation matters group to discuss how service users felt about occupations and the barriers to them.   They also spent time talking to managers of service giving a presentation about what occupational therapy was using a quote I will definitely be using in the future ‘occupation is as important as food and drink.’  

I loved hearing in session 73.2 about their Urban Eden –  Brown L, Walton P, Hartman R, Clarke H, Dunne Mills S, Thompson P Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust, UK

Hearing how OT’s acquired a garden space and used it as a great resource as they had limited resources and space elsewhere in the hospital, I’m shamed to say that I hadn’t thought about gardening in the same way that they had. I was interested to see a list of activities that could be carried out in the garden space. I began to reflect on the occupational therapy garden I manage and how I don’t value its potential, much to one of my occupational therapy assistants annoyance. I think they will be pleased that I’m coming back from this conference with new ideas and an emphasis to concentrate on how we can use the garden space as a therapeutic tool more than just gardening –that’s challenge number 6. 

After lunch – there was two my workshops before the closing plenary.

I chose to attend Prepare for a Care Quality Commission inspection: view from a CQC occupational therapy specialist advisor by Booth M, Specialist advisor for Care Quality Commission, UK, and Clinical commissioning – what occupational therapists need to know, with O’Higgins H, Yeomans J Southern Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group, UK

Both were really informative, and gave insight in to these processes.

IMG_8723The conference was finished off with an inspiring closing talk “What have you got to do this week?” by Karin Turner who was in a car accident in 2008, she explained how this changed her life, leaving her with a mild brain injury.  She reminded us that as occupational therapists we need to remember the person before the accident or problem brought them to need our services.  She told her story of how an occupational therapist helped her to grade her energy levels and eventually was able to return to work, however this wasn’t a straightforward story, with many bumps in the road, but she is now in a place where she can see a future and expressed a wish to train as an occupational therapist.  Truly one of the best outcomes.

The three days were over and as you can see from this blog I have learnt many things and I’ve set myself a number of challenges which I intend to get straight to work on.

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