Feminist Themed, Occupational Therapy

Protest as occupation, following in the footsteps of women before me.

If you google ‘protest as an occupation,’  you will get lots of hits for protests that occupied buildings. As Occupational therapists occupation refers to everything you need to, want to or have to do, from waking up to going back to sleep again.  At this year’s Royal College of occupational therapists conference one of my favourite presentations was an occupation station about the occupation as protest.  

Having attended a protest today,  following Boris Johnson’s move to shut down Parliament, and after engaging in a conversation with a friend, it sparked and idea for this blog. 

Why do we protest? 

After a little online research,  (I know not always the best resource) I read a few interesting articles and blogs. One article about Art Markman, a Professor at the University of Texas at Austin, particularly interested me.

Art wrote, ’ I’ve been really interested over the years in motivation and trying to understand the factors that motivate people,” “Those motivations affect both people’s performance in tasks, as well as the evaluation of that performance.”

His interest in motivation led him to write several articles on the topic, drawing on other people’s research and trying to bring more psychology into the discussion.

He found that people who have an issue with something that is important to them rarely start with violent protests first. “What they normally do is work through other channels to try to resolve the issue that they’re having,” says Markman.

When this doesn’t provide a satisfactory outcome, they will next try protesting in a public, but inoffensive way. “You’ll see people holding signs or writing articles or doing things that are outside of, say, the legal system, but still within the general bounds of what we consider to be civil discourse,”

If this does not work, the next step is getting people’s attention by offending them. Markman says the psychological mechanism for offending others is to transgress their so-called “protected values.”

As I read this, it screamed occupational therapy to me, understanding what motivates people to be able to engage in the occupations they need to or want to do.  


Within the Royal College conference’s occupation as protest presentation we were asked to think about protest in its widest terms. 

The act of engaging in a protest like I did today, But also why our service users may protest against injustice, these may include the treatment services are trying to engage them in.   


Is challenging behaviour the result of motivation, to protest against something someone is not happy with?  

As occupational therapists do we explore the reasons why people do not engage,  or show behaviours that could be interpreted as protesting?  

I find a lot of meaning in the occupation of attending a protest,  it allows me to express my thoughts and feelings,  and makes me feel like I’m part of something.  All important aspects to a persons well-being.  

However the act of protesting is difficult due to my disability,  i’ve been on one rally in London, ‘ I loved every moment of it, the feeling of solidarity,  it happened to also be the day that Jeremy Corbyn was first elected as leader of the Labour Party,  so the atmosphere was electric. But moving in the crowd was difficult,  and walking the long distance was painful,  I don’t think I can do that again.  Today’s protest was more standing and listening and it was only for an hour,  Although I have had to rest for the rest of the day.  It was worth it. 

When I looked around at today’s protest I saw meny in wheelchairs, scooters or using walking sticks,  so that says something about the motivation to protest, overcoming difficulties  in order to engage in this occupation that was important for those who attended today. 

Feeling part of something,  feeling like you’re making a difference,  feeling like you’re telling the world about injustices,  it’s a very important occupation.  But how can we make the act of protest more accessible for others? 

In the 21st-century social media has become a big part in both organising,  and allowing people to engage in online discussion and protest.  But for me it doesn’t have the same feeling as being there in a crowd with others.  

What other occupations could be seen as an act of protest? We could create art,  boycott organisations that serve themselves over the needs of others.  Be more conscious, in the ethical values of the services and products we use. 

Does Protesting alone make any difference? 

It’s a place to start, a place to form ideas and learn from others. The suffragettes had the slogan,  deeds not words,  but the suffragists let by Millicent Fawcett followed her words ‘courage calls to courage everywhere and its voice cannot be denied.’

I often debate with myself whether I would’ve been a suffragist or a suffragette.   I admire all women that fought for us to have the vote,  and I’m sure they would be a shame to see what is happened to democracy today.  But I think I would’ve followed in Millicent’s footsteps.  She lead rallies and marches, always peacefully but also lobbied MPs, and policymakers.   Yet it’s the suffragettes,  their violent acts, and hunger strikes that we remember.  

Perhaps there is a place for both.  

Does protesting change minds?  

I’m unsure if I’m honest within a work context I think we still have a long way to go in understanding the act of protest, in a wider context history shows us that protests can play a part in change.  

I love reading good night stories to rebel girls to my niece Lyra who accompanied me on todays protest, one story from history that springs to mind is Rosa Parks refusal to give up her seat to a white passenger on a bus. Following her defiant act, a boycott of the bus services spread until, The US Supreme Court  a year later made segregation on public buses unconstitutional.

“People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.” — Rosa Parks

With her words in my mind,  I’m given the motivation to carry on with the occupation of protesting.   





 Good night stories for rebel girls. 


Disability, Occupational Therapy

My take on engaging in the occupation of laughing my head off at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.  

For those of you unfamiliar with my blog, I’m an occupational therapist, as an occupational therapist I’m interested in how we engage in everyday occupations,  by occupations we mean everything you need to, want to or have to do, from waking up to going back to sleep again. 

I often reflect in these blogs on how my disability, dyslexia and/or my environment, impacts on how I do the things I need, want and have to do. 

I came to the festival with my partner Anthony,  it was a last minute decision, which is not like me at all.  I love to plan,  it makes me feel secure,  but I was intrigued after listening to the Standard Issue podcast, interviewing women that would be preforming here.  We already had plans for a family holiday to the Isle of Arran, so decided, to set off a day early and go via the festival.  

Getting round Edinburgh itself was a bit of a nightmare. It has cobbled streets  and  lots of hills,  but with some online research, a few tweets and emails to venues clarifying things and the use of google maps to work out distances we would need to walk,  it was manageable.  Without modern technology the occupation of planning would have been impossible, and that would have put me off coming.  (I’m great at avoiding what I don’t understand, can’t figure out for myself, or feel too stupid or uncomfortable to ask about). 

On a whole I felt the festival caters well for those with access needs. Although I found the web site overwhelming and difficult to navigate, when I spoke to a human on the phone,  they were so helpful, explaining how accessible venues were. 

Once we got to the festival we were impressed by staff attitudes. They went out of their way to accommodate my needs,  providing chairs whist queuing, and making sure I had seats in the venues that were comfortable and with room to stretch my leg out. This was honestly refreshing, and not my usual experience.  

So what did we ‘do’? The anxiety that drives me, created a schedule, which I’m pleased to report we stuck to. 

We got up and left the house at ridiculous o’clock in the morning making the 3 hour drive  and arriving just after 10am (a few mins later than planned) at the Grayson Perry exhibition : Julie Cope’s Grand Tour.  Now when booking this my dyslexic brain was confused by the title, and the fact that the website said it started at 10am.  Was there going to be a grand tour? Did we need to be there at 10 or would it be like a normal art exhibition and you just rocked up and went in? A few tweets clarify that it was not a tour, and that we could come between 10am and 5pm.  I still felt the needs for us to be there for 10am as my brain worries I might have misunderstood.  (I’m a worrier) 

The exhibition of beautiful tapestries displayed the life of a character named Julie Cope.  There was lots of written narrative to go along with each piece, but if I’m honest I only pretended to read it – you know to look intellectual.  Instead I chose to make up my own narrative from each tapestry.  The vibrancy, and attention to detail was breath-taking.  

For me Julie was full of potential but the social constraints that are put on women, including what they are expected to do, meant at times she found it hard to muster the energy to fight but at other times she found the strength to strive and do the exciting things like travel. 

As I write this blog I highlight the words ‘Julie Cope’s’, to get Siri to read them to check the word reads Cope’s rather than Coope’s.  I now think perhaps by giving Julie this surname,  Grayson was making a points about a women’s role in society, are we just expected to cope?  Or is it a strength of women kind,  we have learnt to cope? (The occupation of coping, existing and living are perhaps ideas to explore another time) 

As an occupational therapist I often use engagement in the arts as my assessment and or treatment,  the process of how someone does something (the doing part) is the interesting part.  I have watched a number of Grayson Perry documentaries, he also appears interested in the process of making art,  maybe that’s why I find his work so intriguing, as it somehow comes through in the finished product. 

We then took a break from the festival and caught up my good friend, fellow member of the  OTalk* team Kelly and her 11 month old,  Isla, for lunch.

Our first comedy act was Laura Lexx: with her show Knee Jerk. We thoroughly enjoyed her energy on stage, she reflected on her own experience of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and how it had helped her to break down and understand her anxieties, with sharp observations and hilarious consequences.

One of the ideas she explored was how as young children we are taught how important we are, simply by the sports they are encouraged to play,  boys are given the universal recognisable game of football, that has a few simple rules, and can lead to a career of wealth and fame. Where as girls are taught the game of netball, which has more complex rules that restrict your movement around the court, and can lead to not being as valued as a sports person, and mostly likely only ever a part time low waged career. 

Next up was Sofie Hagen: with her show The Bumswing, a thoughtful and astutely written piece of stand up,  she talked about how the British and Danish cultures differ,  particularly when it comes to communicating with each other. She explores her memories and tenancy to remember only the things she wants to believe, told some funny anecdotes,  of growing up with false memories that shaped her future.   What I loved the most was she really challenged the audience at times, making some excellent points about positive body image. 

We finished the night off with the amazing Rosie Jones and her show Backward. She literally took us on an emotional rollercoaster.  

She had the room filled with laughter, as she explored her lived experience, of being a disabled gay woman in comedy.  Until a poignant moment, where it all went dark, as Rosie detailed a story of reading a text message over the shoulder of a stranger, that described Rosie with words so derogative that I can’t quite bring myself to repeat them here,  I was in tears. 

She made some excellent points about being prejudged on her ability. Then brought the room back to laughter again, with her sharp wit. 

Rosie is everything a disabled woman is not allowed to be, clever, witty, rude and lewd,  definitely not an ‘inspiration’ but a fucking genius (and the daddy) I can’t recommend her enough you owe it to humanity to see this woman’s standup.    

What stood out for me as I watched and listen to these three women was how they all touched on occupational deprivation** 

That it was the attitudes of others, not their mental health problems or disability or bring a women, that created the barriers to engaging in the occupations they wanted. 

How we and others perceive us will  impact on what occupations we choose to engage in. Like for me growing up being a child with a disability,  at school they struggled to accommodate my needs and often I was left out of playing sports; you know in case they broke me. 

We both had the most amazing day and will definitely be coming again. Thank you Edinburgh Fringe Festival, for ensuring my engagement is this occupation was not a deprived one.

*OTalk is a weekly twitter chat about everything occupational therapy related that Kelly myself and 5 other occupational therapist organise. https://otalk.co.uk/about-2/

**Occupational deprivation is a relatively new term which describes a state in which people are precluded from opportunities to engage in occupations of meaning due to factors outside their control.


Blog Post, Occupational Therapy

My take on the Royal College of Occupational Therapists conference June 19th -20th 2017

IMG_6854What a fun, productive, motivating, challenging and tiring two days that was.

I try to draw out the positives in everything but today’s blog will start with a few negative points.

This was the first year, the now “Royal” college of occupational therapists held its conference in the IIC in Birmingham,  the venue is bright and modern, however the layout is confusing,  all areas are accessible but often using a lift rather than the stairs meant a longer walk,  which made getting to workshops within a timely manner difficult.  There was no pre booking for sessions before conference.  Many people were turned away, and often because of the distances and layout of the building,  you did not have time to get to another session. – My feed back to RCOT will highlight these two issues heavily.

This years conference sponsors also brought some controversy.  Capita, a company which carries out Personal Independence Payments assessments on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions.  Capita recently placed an advert in OT news which has upset some occupational therapists as it has used the tag line ‘This is what you trained for’.  Before and during the conference occupational therapists and those who have had experiences of PIP assessments have been using twitter and the hash tag #NotWhatITrainedFor, to express their disappointment with Capita’s association with the royal college.

Personally this relationship sits uncomfortably with me,  As a person with a disability still in receipt of DLA awaiting my letter for a PIP assessment,  but also as a occupational therapist who has worked with many people that have had poor experiences of the PIP assessment, which has caused unnecessary stress, and feelings of low self worth.  As Occupational Therapists we are best placed to assess how a persons disability/ mental health problem or learning disability impacts on the persons ability to function, and what level of support is required to live a life that is meaningful to that individual, but I don’t believe the PIP assessment system, uses evidence based occupation focused assessments to determined its out comes.  As Occupational Therapists we must advocate for those we work with,  in my experiences working with those with mental health problems this assessment has only added stress and worry and in some cases severe mental distress leading to a relapse and readmission to hospital rather them giving support.

I feel strongly as a profession and professional body we should be advocating for those we work with to ensure fairness. A slight word of warning tho,  I am concerned that some of what I have seen on social media condemning this relationship has become personal, towards those Occupational therapists that are employed by Capita.  Let’s learn from the recent general election campaigns,  and take a leaf out of Jeremy Corbyn’s book.  I encourage a constructive an open dialogue with the Royal College of occupational therapists about this issue.  But please I ask let’s not run a negative campaign that focuses on personal attacks.  This just distracts from the issue.

This year I funded myself which gave me the freedom to attend sessions and workshops that interested me and were not just purely work related.

The opening plenary – The first Keynote speaker was Paul McGee I’m guessing a professional motivational speaker, he is also known as the SUMO Guy. ‘Shut up and move on’ he told some funny stories and encouraged us to look for open doors, but in my opinion did not bring anything to the conference.   The second Plenary Speaker was Dr Winnie Dunn from the University of Kansas, she is  internationally known as an expert in the field of sensory processing in everyday life.  As a novice in sensory processing – this gave me a foundation in this theory.  She  emphasised not using sensory assessments to label clients based on their scores, and explained that every one has a sensory profile.  –  this is an area I know I need to learn more about.  – perhaps a challenge for this year.

Session 3 Education – Teresa Rushton from Coventry University – Understanding the experiences of occupational therapy students with additional support requirements, whilst studying BSc (Hons) in occupational therapy,  this was a small study with Occupational therapy students and their experiences whilst on placement.   Although its important to research and understand the experiences of students in this manner I found myself feeling disappointed that it focused on the negative experiences. It saddens me that 11 years on from qualifying, students and educators are still finding making reasonable adjustments for someone who needs it a challenge.  When will the profession recognised that those with disabilities have so much to offer?

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Session 24 – Introducing RCOT’s new career development Framework:  – this framework has nine levels of skills covering clinical, educational, research, or managerial roles.   The aim is to cover all possible kinds of careers in occupational therapy. This is a great resource one I need to spend some time mapping myself against. If your using this tool please let RCOT know what you think on twitter using the hashtag #RCOTCareerFramework.

Professor Diane Cox gave the Casson memorial lecture this year ‘Life as an occupational being’. She gave an overview of occupational therapy its origins and meaning, reminding us of the importance of occupation  “Occupation is as old as humanity” (Reed et al, 2012) and from Brock (1934): “Occupation is not a secondary matter. It is a primary need of an individual’s life”.  So we must keep occupation central in our practice and research. I was struck with a quote she shared from Elisabeth Casson in 1941- ‘rehabilitation needs serious attention at present’, does this quote still stand today?   Diane went on to explain although occupational therapy has been voted as the least likely job to be taken over by Robot’s, on the surface it can be seen as simple, she urged us to combat this common misconception by getting work and research then  Published Published Published!! If you would like to read more about this lecture please see the Otalk blog here.

IMG_6796One of the sessions I was most looking forward to attending was session 63 – Occupational Therapy – a feminist profession? – Heather Davidson from the University of Salford, explained there is very little written on this subject.  We explored the links between occupational therapy and feminism, that it was a movement started by women, to empower people.  However is it still seen as a white middle class profession for young ladies?  Some of the debate and conversation within the workshop turn to men in the profession and how they might feel in the minority –  which as a feminist I found frustrating.


Something else new this year and that I was looking forward to, was the occupation stations – these were hands on workshops exploring occupations like bird watching, crochet, bead making and origami. These were very popular sessions and unfortunately I could not get in to one,  however from twitter and chatting with those that did attend, they were excellent sessions – lets not forget our roots of doing things with people.


Dr Jennifer Creek gave the closing plenary the empire strikes back ; learning from the practise of Occupational Therapists working in the margins, she as always was thought provoking  and challenged us to think about our practise – has it became static and have we lost our focus on occupation. Jennifer took us on a journey from the origins of our profession and the rise in women’s movement from the late 19th century, to what it is in present day,  she ask us to pay more attention to practice that is happening on the margins if we want to seek answers to some of the major challenges we face currently, and want to discover places where creativity happens.

We were then treated to a hilarious presentation given by Tina Coldham a mental health campaigner – last night an OT saved my life,  reminding us that talking with and discovering what is important to the person you are working with can really make that difference.

Julia Scott chief executive of the Royal college of occupational therapists them gave her usual take home message,  this year she urged us not to abbreviate our profession to its initials, She believes by using our full title this will reduce the confusion between occupational therapy and occupational therapist and also give us more standing within the medical community –  Julia I will endeavour to do this and have try to throughout this blog (however to save characters on twitter I will at times still use OT)

I get so much from going to conference and understand it is a privilege to be able to attend, however I would urge those that were not able to go to do two things,  check out the #COT2017 on twitter for all the goings on and to read blogs that were written live at the event – all available on the Otalk blog here.   For me as an OT geek its an opportunity to learn, be challenged but also to network and socialise with those friends I have made over the years,  and a time when some of us from the Otalk team get to see each other in person.

Although I learnt lots, my favourite was spending time with friends.  You know you have had a good night out when you wake up the next morning with a green balloon attached to your walking stick.

Blog Post, Broken Leg, Occupational Therapy

The broken leg part 2 – What does ‘Independent’ really mean?


 A dictionary definition of the word independent shows it has many meanings, including ‘not influenced or controlled by others in matters of opinion, conduct, etc.; thinking or acting for oneself.’  ‘Not dependent; not depending or contingent upon something else for existence, operation, etc.’ Not relying on another or others for aid or support, and in Politics. a person who votes for candidates, measures, etc., in accordance with his or her own judgment and without regard to the endorsement of, or the positions taken by, any party.’


But in the world of occupational therapy what does independent mean, to the therapist and to the person they are providing a service for?  This is something I have been thinking a lot about as I recover from a broken leg.

This recovery has been complicated by my existing disability, a right hemiplegia from cerebral palsy after a lack of oxygen to the brain during my birth.  The last three months have been some of the toughest of my life so far, and it’s all been down to my ability to come to terms with the lack of independence.

The issues of independence first began to play on my mind, after sadly a poor experience of occupational therapy whist in hospital.  I don’t think it would be appropriate for me to go in to this is to detail, but I will say I was concerned with their interpretation of independence.

After my operation I was having difficulty standing and began to transfer using a banana board, however my right leg was stiff and heavy with the extra weight of the pot, I could not transfer without someone holding it.

This was observed by one of the four OT’s I saw over the 16 days I was in hospital.  On discharge I ran in to difficulty and rang the OT to come out to do a home visit to reassess to my needs.  We disagreed on the help and assistance I required.

This mainly focused on the OT’s opinion I had independently transferred from the hospital bed to a chair.  I pointed out that the OT had held my leg during this transfer.  For me this was not an independent transfer. I must stress this is just my opinion and how the treatment I received felt.  But the OT service saw a broken leg and not the added complication for the hemiplegia and bariatric needs.

Discharge was not planned on admission, and unfortunately, in my opinion discharge from hospital was delayed due to the lack for forward planning by the OT team.  At this stage I cut ties with the OT service and sourced my own equipment paying for it myself, getting it in a timely manner with the help of some friends and family.

Interestingly enough whist in hospital. I was asked by the OTalk team to become a full team member. The first twitter chat I supported was ironic.  It explored if OTs within acute hospitals assessed and treated the mental health needs of their clients.  This again in my opinion was an area not addressed by any profession during my admission. #Otalk Blog

The affect of the broken leg on my mental health has been the most difficult part, those who are familiar with hemiplegia will also know that it is not just a physical disability and some of the symptoms include feeling depressed, heightened emotional sensitivity with inability to handle stressful situations.

Whist in hospital I found it incredibly difficult to manage my emotions, this was possibly made harder by the fact I was in over Christmas and New Year.  Social media, the tool I love became a focus of paranoia.  I made some mistakes in taking this out on people I love, something I am still dealing with the repercussions of 3 months on.  I was tearful on a daily basis’s and of course bored beyond belief. Friends and family did their best to visit and entertain me, during this time.  I am an extremely lucky person to have people in my life that have managed the moods, the tears and the frustrations.

Admitting and asking for help can be a hard, as a person with a disability you spend your life fighting systems and working hard to achieve despite the obstacles.  This might be some little victories like having a trampoline party as child because you were not invited to one earlier in the year as that’s child’s parents did not think you would be able to use the trampoline.  Or the large things like finish a degree, despite being turned down for your first placement because the educators had preconceptions about your physical abilities.

Some readers maybe thinking, I thought this blog was about independence, so sorry if I have gone off topic slightly, but I wanted to set the scene.

Those that have studied or have read about independence within OT will understand about codependence.  You might question is anyone truly independent? We all rely on others for something.  I found myself asking questions like, If I can use the toilet without assistance but need to be wheeled to or use a walking frame to get to the toilet is this independent??

Where does choice come in to this? can you or should you chose which parts of your life you want to be independent.  One example I have for this is prior to the fall, I would only wear flat slip on shoes without socks, as I find manipulating my hemi foot in to socks and shoes difficult.  However, after the operation my foot and leg have been very swollen. I’ve brought a wide fitting pair of shoes but due to the type of shoe I need to wear socks with them.

My first visit to the hospital physiotherapist, (10 days after having the pot removed) we had a discussion about putting my shoes and socks on, her priority for me to do this myself, however putting on this type of shoe is not something I would not normally do, although its something I know I need to work on it was not my priority at that time.

Over the past 3 months my independence abilities have changed on a daily basis some days I was more independent than others.  The equipment I’ve needed to assist me has changed dramatically from my initial thinking.

Facing getting out and about was one of the biggest challenges, for both myself and my family.  I became dependent on them when ever I wanted to leave the house, and a trip out needed to be planned in detail, much like a new mother with a new born baby.  I found I needed to plan longer rest periods than I did before the fall.

Tools like social media and the internet have helped with this I found I liked to look up where we have planed to go in detail, I look at pictures to help me understand the access issues and the distance I might need to walk, the anxiety of the unknown began to consume me.  My current challenge is to begin to go out without the safety net of the family, although I still require assistance to get my walking frame or wheelchair out of the car, I’m beginning by meeting a friend for lunch.

So I’m independently planning trips out with the toosl available to me, however I still require someone to accompany me, is this independent?

To help me explore independence in the future I’m planning on hosting a #Otalk on the subject on April 12th at 8pm I hope to see you online then.

 Rachel @OT_rach



Blog Post, Disability, Occupational Therapy

A week in the life of an Occupational Therapist with a disability – For #OTweek15

The World Federation of Occupational Therapist (WFOT) define Occupational therapy as ‘a client-centred health profession concerned with promoting health and well being through occupation. The primary goal of occupational therapy is to enable people to participate in the activities of everyday life. Occupational therapists achieve this outcome by working with people and communities to enhance their ability to engage in the occupations they want to, need to, or are expected to do, or by modifying the occupation or the environment to better support their occupational engagement.’ (WFOT 2012)

“Occupation” is also defined as
‘everyday activities that people do as individuals, in families and with communities to occupy time and bring meaning and purpose to life. Occupations include things people need to, want to and are expected to do.’

The British Association of Occupational Therapists and College of Occupational Therapists (BAOT/COT) are asking members to engaging in OT week – (2nd – 8th of November 2015) and promote the work and role of an occupational therapist.

This year, I thought I would use social media to promote occupational therapy as this is an occupation I enjoy. I will be posting on my Twitter, and Instagram accounts, as well has updating this blog on a daily basis.

I hope to show ‘a week in the life of an Occupational Therapist with a disability,’ to both demonstrate what my job entails and how I as a person with a disability engage in the occupations I want to, need to, or are expected to do, explaining any modifying of the occupation or the environment that supports my occupational engagement.

Occupational therapist think of occupations in three area, self care, productive and leisure. I will share photos and posts of occupations within these three areas throughout the week. Please feel free to share, and ask questions at any time.

Rachel @OT_rach

Day 1 Monday 2nd November 
For those that are not regulars to my blog, I have a right hemiplegia/cerebral palsy diagnosis due to lack of oxygen to the brain at birth. I also have dyslexia.

This morning started like most days, with pussycat my cat waking me promptly at 7am.
I’m currently recovering from a sprained ankle meaning first thing on morning the trip out of bed to the bathroom and downstairs to feed the cat can be a painful and tricky one.

IMG_0370The morning is mainly self care tasks, I sorted out the washing and prepared my breakfast. Carried both back upstairs in the washing basket. I find it difficult to balance going upstairs whilst carrying something so tend to place the basket on the stairs two at a time. After my breakfast I have a quick shower, my shower has handrails and a seat.

Although my right hand is not as weak as the my right leg/foot, I still find some fine motor skills difficult like doing zips and buttons. I tend to avoid these in clothes. Typical outfit for me for work would be leggings and some sort of dress I can pull over my head, and slip on shoes.  And of course wearing my I ❤️ OT badge.
imageThen the productivity starts. I packed up my lunch and prepared to leave the house and drive my car, which is an automatic adapted to the left accelerator, to work. (I work in acute psychiatry)

This morning I had a first year OT student start. I spent some time replying to emails from Friday. I explained the nature of the OT team to the student, before taking her to a multi-disciplinary team (MDT) meeting. Theses meetings happen daily and every patient on the ward is discussed. This was followed by a formulation meeting for a patient that is been with us for about a week now. It was agreed this patient could have leave to the occupational therapy department. I then took this patient over to the department, showed them around and gave them a copy of the timetable. The person expressed an interest in the pottery session.

I spent a little more time with the student talking them through the morning. We then joined the OT team for  lunch, chatting about our weekends, comparing trick or treater experiences and I also checked my twitter feed.

In the afternoon I had some mandatory training, Basic Life Support. This included using mannequins to do CPR practice. I find it difficult to get up and off the floor so asked the tutor if the mannequin could be placed on the table in order for me to engage.

Once’s the training was over, I give the team a quick ring to check that the afternoon at gone well. I then drove home to write this blog. Which I’m dictating using Siri on my iPhone. Having dyslexia, this is often a tool I use when writing a blog or tweeting.

I’m staying at a hotel in Leeds tomorrow night so will be packing.  As I’m getting the train I need to think about fitting everything into a small suitcase that I’m able to lift and manipulate on and off the train independently.

For some leisure this evening, I’m going round to one of my oldest and dearest friends house’s. The biggest challenge visiting Dominic’s house is that his living room is on the first floor. He also has a very low sofa which I find difficult getting off. His house is also a no shoe house which is fine but with the current pain I’ve got in my ankle I prefer to wear shoes for support. To combat this I’m taking my slippers, and Dominic as usual will have to help me get off the sofa.

Day 2 Tuesday 3rd November 2015

Occupational therapist are interested in enabling people with their daily routine, as mentioned in yesterdays post, my cat helps me with my morning routine by waking me everyday at 7am. However this morning I changed my routine slightly much to pussycats annoyance.

Having looked in my dairy I knew I had to get in to work early this morning to fit everything in before leaving promptly to catch a train. As i can be slow on a morning, I had prepared last night by showering, packing an over night bag, preparing my lunch and setting out my clothes for the morning.

IMG_0388I chose to get dressed before going down stairs to feed the cat. Getting to work 1 hour early, I spent this time catching up on emails, before a 9am supervision session with my student. A quick meeting with staff to plan the day and help set up the morning construction group, which is a new group to our timetable. This group will ofter service users the opportunity to make objects out of wood. The first few weeks is concentrated on making the shadow broads that will be used to keep a track of what equipment we have.
This was followed by the daily MDT meeting and two formulation meetings for new admissions which took me up to lunch time. After lunch I pop to my ward to introduce myself and role to a new admission, encouraging them to attend this afternoons session, and made plans to see then again on Thursday.

I then had a supervision session with one of my band 5 OT in which we discussed a person I had been working with last week, but had now moved the band 5 ward. We discussed my assessment so far, and the plan I had put in place for the OT assistant to follow.

This was then followed by a catch up with the student, who had been in the baking session this afternoon.
I left work early to meet up with my mum and catch a train to Leeds.

I’m currently the chair on the BAOT Northern and Yorkshire committee, we have been asked to present at an OT conference in Leeds tomorrow, for #OTweek15. My mum Mary Booth, is a retired occupational therapist, but is also on the regional committee as the current treasurer.

We are staying in a local hotel in which I have booked an accessible room as I find it difficult to get in and out of a bath. Booking online is alway a bit of a gamble as sometimes a hotels understanding of accessible is different from mine.

Negotiating the journey from the train to the hotel, as always has it challenges such as getting off the train in a short time frame. Then faced with an escalator, my worst fear. The motor skills such as balance and coordination to step on to moving object is not my strong point, especially with the extra demand of a suitcase. So instead it was walk against the crowds to a lift. We then waited for a taxi and I prayed for a taxi that was not too high or low to get in and out off. We got a low one!!! Getting in and out other peoples cars can be difficult as my own car is the prefect height for me, which is why I much prefer to drive at every opportunity. But having driven in Leeds before the train felt like the safer option.

For some leisure this evening we are meting up with Amy my brothers girlfriend who is currently in her 4th year of a Dietetics degree. Going somewhere new always presents itself with a level of anxiety for me. How will I get there? How far will I need walk? Most people rate a restaurant on the quality of food, for me its always about the quality of the seating. Will I be able get up for the chair without difficulty? Will there be enough leg room? Amy sent me the link to the restaurant and I didn’t look at the menu, instead I looked at the pictures of the table and chairs. In the confirmation email of our booking, it stated “some of our tables have high bar stools if this is not suitable for your party please contact us” so we had to ring to ensure we are not seated at the high tables.

Normally on Tuesday nights I would be engaging in the twitter chat #OTalk,( Otalk )which tonight is looking at how we promote OT, but I’m out for a meal.  However I am planning on doing a bit of OT promotion with Amy and some of her Dietetics student friends, having packed some stickers saying I love OT for them to wear during dinner.

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Day 3 Wednesday 4th November 2015

FullSizeRenderToday has been a productive one witha little bit leisure but not a lot of self care. My nights sleep was poor due to an uncomfortable bed in the hotel, waking throughout the night with back pain. As I left pussycat at home, I relied on my phone to wake me up, however my back did this for me. I decided against the shower, as it had high step up and no hand rails.

The productive part of my day was attending the first OT sessions at Leeds Teaching NHS Trust, in my role as chair of BAOT Northern and Yorkshire committee, along with Mary our treasurer and Keith our careers promotion lead.

You can see what the Leeds teaching NHS trust OT’s have been getting up to all #OTweek15 by finding them on Twitter @LTHTrust and @LTHTOT.

In brief they are running daily information stalls with a different theme each day to promote OT to both colleagues anIMG_0409d patients. They also hosted their first ever OT sessions, which was an opportunity for OT’s across the trust to get together for some CPD and hear what each other have been getting up to. I was particularly impressed with a presentation by Claire England – Senior OT, who presented ‘Life in colour – developing an outpatient pain management group for teenagers.’ As a advocate for group work, it was great to see what Claire and her colleagues had achieved.

We then got some lunch before heading back to the train station. As we were traveling off peak the station was quieter and therefore less anxiety provoking. Although by this time I was feeling pretty tired, having done more walking than usual. I began to think about how I needed to save some energy for rest of the week.

I have plans to meet a friend tonight, go out for bonfire night tomorrow and catch a train to London with my family early Friday. However as I sit on the train with pain in my back and right leg, I realised I needed to make some sacrifices and rest my body. I decided to ask my friend to meet earlier and somewhere close to my home, and have resigned to the fact I need to miss tomorrows plans for bonfire night to conserve some energy for the weekend.

I have also connected with Jo Southall on twitter today, a student OT who runs the Facebook page ‘DisabilOT’. She is running a twitter chat tonight at 7pm #OTandME15 for OT’s and the general public to engage in. I’m hope to join in from my bed later tonight.

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Day 4 Thursday 5th November 2015.

Pussycat appeared happy to be able to wake me as usual this morning, however today was one of those days I prefer to refer to as a codeine day. Being in pain it took me a little longer to get ready, meaning I did not have time to prepare some lunch.

The productivity started with supervision of the fitness instructor, followed by the daily MDT meeting. I then met with a colleague from the trust research department as I had identified some patients for her to see today as part of a research project.

This mornings groups included pottery and knit and natter, which were ran by the OT assistants. I spend some time arranging Section 17 leave (a legal requirement under the mental health act to allow a patient to leave the grounds of the hospital ) for one of the occupational therapy assistants to take a patient out on some leave this afternoon for a meal.

imageAfter lunch – my student and two of the band 5 OT’s ran a group to explore the importance of sleep, asking the group members firstly to make a mind map of things that help them sleep. Finishing the group with something practical, making lavender pouches, from lavender that was picked in the garden earlier in the week.
Once the groups had finished, the OT team meet for our daily handover and we discussed three new referrals.

I then spent some time with one of the band 5 OT’s who is new to the team and discussed a functional assessment she is planning on doing tomorrow morning. Going over which standardised assessment she might like to use and the paperwork the trust has for completing assessments.

After this we both spent time writing up notes for the patients we had seen today.

I’m on holiday from work tomorrow, and having been out off the office yesterday I had a little bit to catch up on so stayed late to answer emails.  Luckily my office is on the first floor and has a large window, so I was able to enjoy a fireworks display whilst working.
Once home my mind turned to the weekend. Travelling to London with my mother, brother and his girlfriend. I began to think about what we had planned and which category of occupation the purpose of our visit might be. I decided it was self care. Unfortunately we lost my grandmother this August. She lived in London for most of her life and wished for her ashes to be spread on the field across from her old house.

Feeling quite tired I made some tea, packed my suitcase and engaged in leisure occupation of watching some television, catching up on a few things I’ve missed during the week.

Day 5 6th November 2015

Another change to the daily routine this morning, getting up at 6am, pussycat looked most confused. As mentioned yesterday I have taken a days holiday from work today. I collected my brother Dan and his girlfriend Amy on the way to the train station, where we met up with Mum.

We caught the 7.32IMG_0438am Grand Central train to London. On the train we chatted about our weekend plans and played a game of Self care, Productivity and Leisure. Discussing occupations we have engaged in this week and which category we felt they fitted in to. For mum washing her clothes was productivity however myself and Amy felt this was more self care. Amy spent some time spell checking this blog, I think this was more productivity for her however I like to think there was some leisure in it some where. Dan slept for most of the journey – self care?.

Occupational therapists should allow the person they are working with to define which occupations fit in to which category, as what is self care to one person could be leisure to another like getting your hair cut. For some people cooking is productivity and for others its leisure .

Amy a dietetic student then invented a game, Protein, Carbs or Fats, naming food type and getting us to chose which they belonged to.

IMG_2422Once in London the leisure occupations started, we ditched the luggage and ventured out. To lessen the amount of walking we decided to get on a tour bus. Even though we know the city well, Mum lived her for the first 40 years of her life, having both me and dan here, a tour bus is still a great way and easy way to see the city.

Getting to the hotel about 5pm, although we did not do to much walking my ankle was really painful, so a short rest whilst I wrote this blog, before going out for food at the first restaurant we come across. My mind is ready to enjoy a night in the city of my birth, however my body is telling me its time to rest.

Day 6 November 7th November

Just a quick post today, a woke in the hotel room this morning, (i should point out a normal week does not include two overnights in a hotel, just so happens this week is a busy one.) But i think its a good example of how the change of environment impacts on my ability to carry out a my normal morning and self care routines.

I have booked the accessible room again, this time the bed was much more comfortable although very low, a great level for someone in a wheel chair to transfer, but not so good for me to stand up from first thing in the morning. Also the bathroom was sort of accessible, with a very low bath, however still not easy for me to get in and out of so I washed at the sink and washed my hair over the bath .

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We decided to take a taxi from Kings cross to my Nan’s old house in East Acton. There we meet with Nan’s old neighbour, my cousins and Dans god mother Pam. We eat cake, drank tea, reminisced, before venturing out in the rain to say good bye to Nan and scatter her ashes on the field across from her old house.

After this we chose to indulge in a spot of shopping, one of my favourite occupations, Portobello market is not far, however due to the rain we opted for Westfields shopping centre instead. However on a Saturday, it was really busy. Luckily I know this shopping centre well so could plan our route to minimise stress and walking distances.

We traveled back on the underground, you already know that escalators are my worst fear, and the one’s on London underground seen to go much faster. I’m not as scared about going up as I am about coming down, so with the aid of transport for London’s guild to step free underground https://tfl.gov.uk/transport-accessibility/wheelchair-access-and-avoiding-stairs and my memory I could work out a route that did not including going down any escalators, however at times this does mean walking further. To manage going an escalator I need to have free hands and someoneI trust in front of me.

IMG_0463Feeling pretty tired on the walk back to the hotel, we stopped for fish and chips to eat in the room. Dan and Amy had arranged meet some friends in Soho, again i really wanted to go, but needed to listen my body and rest.Back at the hotel I had some time to review twitter and see what people were tweeting about today. Jennifer Creek has challenged my use of self care, productivity and leisure as a way to explain categorises of occupations, I love to be challenged and yes she is very right she says, categorisation of occupations are artificial – only appropriate or useful for limited professional purposes.

Day 7 8th November 2015

I had a slow morning as our train was not till 9.48am and the hotel was directly opposite the station. We were leaving mum behind has she has business in London.

At the station we had some slight drama, as we arrived and sat down to wait for our train, next to us were three unattended supermarket shopping bags. I asked the people around if they belonged to anyone but no one claimed them. I rushed to find a member of staff to inform and showed them the bags. By this time Dan and Amy had been watching the bags for over five mins, when a woman walked in from outside and explained she could not get signal on the on her phone so had gone outside. Slightly frustrated about the lack of thinking this women portrayed, we walked to catch the train.

I tried to be productive during the journey home, spending some time making a storify of #OTweek15 however the wifi was not great.

Once back up north, I popped to my mums to refill her cat feeders before heading home. I had planned to catch up on a some work, but instead got a shower, my first opportunity to really feel clean since Friday. I then put on my PJ’s before watching some telly, finishing this blog and the storify of the week.

It all starts again tomorrow.

I’d be interested to hear what you thought of this weeks blog. Please leave any comments below, and thanks for reading, I have enjoyed writing it.

Blog Post, Occupational Therapy

An update on my Six challenges from #COT2015 for #OTweek

Following the College of Occupational Therapists (COT) conference this year, (#COT2015) I wrote a blog about my experience and learning and set myself 6 challenges, 4 months on I want to revisit this blog and review if at all I have addressed or met any of my challenges.

You can read the original blog here College of Occupational Therapist 39th annual conference June – 30th July 2nd 2015 Brighton #cot2015

To put theses challenges into context for blog readers I work in an acute mental health inpatient setting.

Challenge number 1. Look at how my team can introduce mindfulness in to our timetable.

I have discussed this idea with the team, however it as yet is not part of the timetable, first some of the team will need to access the training that is available in the trust and then I’m hoping to revisit this with the next timetable review meeting.

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

I am now active in using TRAMm I update my TRAMm tracker on a weekly basis. I have also presented how to use TRAMm to the other OT clinical leads in my trust, as a result others have started to use the model. Within the OT learning network I help to co-ordinate we are completing a TRAMm Trail at the end of each session for all participants to use.

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.

This is and I think will always be a work in progress, since the conference I have tried to be clear with colleagues about the work i have done with service users explained the core occupational therapy and helping them understand OT as a treatment process, and not just someone that does art or cooking. I continue to work with the OT professional Lead and other OT clinical leads to develop the service. For OT week, the regional committee (which I chair) will be in Leeds for an event. We also plan to tweet and retweet what OT staff and students in the region are doing during OT week, and hopefully further promote Occupational Therapy.

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

Again I feel this is an ongoing challenge that needs further thoughts. Running an open time table with regular groups it can be easy to become complacent and go though the motions. I recently attended a CPD event with Jennifer Creek called getting back to basics, and this has encouraged me to relook at core OT skills like activity analysts.

Within supervision with OT assistants i have revisited this core tool to ensure they continue to use the groups they run as assessment and treatment tools, constantly reflecting on their interaction with service users and use appropriate grading and addition skills. As for my own practice being client centre,

I have recently worked with a person who challenges me everyday, getting the right balance for this person to meet their goals, whist remaining safe. It is a daily discussion with the MDT, however the team have reflect that least restrictive practice works well with this person and access to occupational therapy and the the the OT team has been central to this persons care.

I have reflected on the need to discuss my and the MDT decision making process with the OT team on a daily basis to keep everyone working together towards the same goals for this person.

Challenge number 5. Improve the access to football and sports.

Shortly after returning from conference I had a meeting with a local sports complex, we now have access to those resources at the complex once a week. We are now able to offer our service users a weekly physical session in an everyday sports environment.

Challenge number 6. With my team to concentrate on how we can use the garden space better.

We now have a dedicated garden session, which all staff engage in, we have also worked with the trust volunteer service and currently have one volunteer helping with this session. the garden area is beginning to be a place people enjoy spending time in, and we have also used the space run other sessions like a knit and natter session.

So in conclusion four months on from the conference, I still have some way to go, but feel the team have made a great start meeting the 6 challenges.

I’m attending the OT show at the end of the month so let’s hope i am equally challenged at this event.

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

Wed-site www.trammcpd.com

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 https://storify.com/OT_rach/college-of-occupationaltherapist-39th-annual-confe

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 http://www.symplur.com/healthcare-hashtags/cot2015/
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.

Occupational Therapy

Advice on how to get a band 5 OT Job

So I read @OTtwehy post for her #OTalk on the 29th of October, preparing for OT interviews, and @clissa89 also asked me to write a post ready for this talk as a person who as interviewed on many an occasion. (Mostly band 5’s)

I first want to go back to the Emerging OT Student Conference in May this year, held at Carlisle University. At this event Leslie Crichton presented 50 things you should know before applying for your first job as an Occupational therapist. This presentation was just brilliant, I agreed with all her comments some really suck in my mind as common mistakes people make, this is something I going to share with you along with a few of my own experiences.

My first piece of advice is to put yourself in the short listing person’s chair.

Most NHS jobs get lots if not 100s of applications, my NHS Trust tends to close applications early once it has hit a certain number of application forms; I tend to ask for 50. So even if a job says it will be up for two weeks it might close early if there have been enough applications, this can also the case if it does not give a closing date and remember Band 5 posts do attract a lot of applications.

This means you need to work fast, however, please do not make one of the worst mistakes by having a generic one size fits all application form.
Start by saying which job you are applying for this shows the reader you are interested in that job. If I had a pound for every time I read an application form that somewhere stated “I would really love to work in orthopedics” – a different job than the one they were applying for I would be able to retire.

Getting back to putting yourself in the seat of the person doing the short listing, reading 50 applications is a tiring job, so you need to stand out. Before reading the application forms the people short listing will have put together criteria of what they are looking for in application. They will take this from the job specification, so make sure you read it and try and work out what they are looking for, also ensure you have all the essential criteria as if you don’t this is an easy way for the you not to be on the shortlist.

For example HCPC registration is an essential – when I qualified many organisations would take you on as an assistant until your registration came through, however this is not the case anymore in many areas,

My second piece of advice would be to get your HCPC registration sorted fast, get the forms before you get your results fill them in and get your GP to do their bit then ask the university when the HCPC will be getting the results so you can send the application form off as soon as results are out.

Advice number 3 avoid a list of annoying things people put in application forms such as –

1. Putting placements down, as past employment – these are not past employment
2. Using words like enthusiastic, dedicated, passionate, when you have read 20 application forms all starting, ‘I am a enthusiastic, passionate and dedicated OT’ it begins to get on your nerves – anyone can say it you need to prove it. This should shine through without having to use the words.
3. Writing an essay in your application form – I don’t have the time to read that – you need to get across your experience and what you bring to the post and how you meet the specification concisely and without repetition. I don’t need a list of everything you did in every placement, rather how your placement experience and skills can be transferred into becoming a newly qualified practitioner and fit this post.

Advice number 4 don’t forget your key OT words
Occupation, Function, meaningful and purposeful activities – I read many applications that could be for anything – they don’t mention OT.

Ok so you have the perfect application form which should get you shortlisted – now it’s time for the interview.

This piece of advice is very personal, but I like it if applicants I have short listed contact me personally before the interview for an informal chat or request to look around. This shows a genuine interest and will allow you to be more comfortable with who is interviewing you and if you can get to look around have an idea or where your might end up working.

The interview advice

My first thought is again one of Leslie Crichton 50 pieces of advice – don’t show your knickers to the interview panel – you may laugh but it does happen – think about what your wearing, and practice siting down in it gracefully.

So the questions – these will very much depending on the job and area you are being interview for, so lots of preparation is a must.

Mistakes made – when asking the question what national legislation and advice is out there that impacts on you as an OT – don’t say, well this is hard question cos there is not a lot out there for OT – er wrong. There will be recent legislation relating to your area of work, there will be NICE guidance, there will be information about governance and recent changes in health and social care. Research, research, research before the interview.

Many organisations will send you additional information in your interview pack perhaps about their expected values and behaviours – be familiar with these, there may be a question about them. They will also expect you to know something about the organisation so research this – they will have a website.

I always ask a question about how would your friends and colleagues describe you, I’m looking for good insight in yourself here – I don’t believe people that just give positive answers, I would describe myself as lots of positive things but also highlight I’m not someone who likes to be rushed, and these are the strategies I have in place to combat this. Showing you are not perfect as no one is but demonstrates you can fend for yourself, and know and are willing to work on your limitations.

Models – be open an honest don’t try to fudge this, do your research and explain which ones you have had the opportunities to use on placement or in previous jobs but demonstrate that you would be open to use and learn others.

The dreaded presentation – many places steer away from this as it may give them an idea of your presentation skills rather than ability to do the job. But if you are asked – practice it well, speak to slides with minimal information rather than read lots from overcrowded slides. Make sure you keep to the topic and the time limit. You may be asked to send it in before the interview for governance reasons.

Mentioning clinical and information governance – be sure you understand what this is any your role in it – it’s a popular question area.

Make the most of anything you have achieved or been involved in as a demonstration of your skills – e.g. if you have been involved as student representative or in the professional body

Your PDP and portfolio – do use this in the interview, if a question come up that you have a reflection for example show this- but don’t take forever to find it – use a posit note for items you think might come up is one recommendation. To locate the reflection fast

Have some questions to ask – prepare several and avoid those that have already been dealt with in the interview. Just use those that are appropriate – do ask about development opportunities but don’t give the idea that you expect unlimited outside courses early in your career. Your early development will be to consolidate your knowledge and skills.

Do ask about supervision and preceptorship if they have not already asked questions about it.

During the interview – make sure you engage with all the interview panel, eye contact, and appropriate smiles – a tip is to look round and include them all in an answer – not just to look at the person who asked the question.