Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely our own and not necessarily those of our employer or any other occupational therapist.

Monday, 9 March 2015

The Day the Loneliness came....

I saw this article in one of the Sunday papers a few months ago now (October 2014) - it moved me then as it still does. It  featured Bob, a widower who had written a poem to his wife of 65 years.The article states:
This week it emerged that the number of men like Bob, who have outlived their wives and live alone, is growing. According to a report, the figure is set to rise by 65 per cent in the next 15 years, from 911,000 to 1.5 million by 2030.
Men often feel loneliness more acutely than widows, as they tend to be more socially isolated. Nearly a quarter of older men have contact with their children less than once a month, compared with 15 per cent of older women.
For Bob, however, the problem is not remoteness from his loved ones. He has two attentive daughters, Linda, 67, in Gloucestershire and Martine, 56, in Surrey; a son Robert, 65, in Australia; six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Those he does not see regularly, he speaks to via the internet.
His daily life is productive and busy. He is a tireless fundraiser, a steadfast volunteer; a devoted father and friend. It is simply the absence of Kath that troubles him. For when he closes the door of his bungalow near the New Forest in Hampshire, there is no remission from the loneliness. He still talks to Kath, but now there are no answers.

Clearly Bob still has roles and occupations that he engages with- but his roles of husband, friend, carer and his co-occupations with his wife have all been taken away. Our very own Dr Tracy Collins here at UoS has done work on the transition into widowhood and the impact on occupations, routines and roles. As we continue to become an ageing population this issue needs to be more understood and considered by health and social care practitioners and occupational therapists are best placed to work with these issues - as The Guardian recently explained in their supplement dedicated to our professional roles.

A new charity - The Silver Line has also been set up to help in these areas. They introduce themselves on their website as follows:
In August 2011, Dame Esther Rantzen DBE (who founded the children’s helpline ChildLine in 1986), wrote an article about the loneliness she has experienced since being bereaved, and living alone. She was overwhelmed by the huge response from older people who shared her experience. In November 2011 she was invited to make a key-note speech at a conference at which she came up with the idea of creating a helpline in order to support vulnerable older people, sign-post them to projects and services, break through the stigma of loneliness and isolation, and tackle the problems of abuse and neglect.

The Silver Line Helpline provides three functions to support older people:
•  a sign-posting service to link them into the many, varied services that exist around the country
•  a befriending service to combat loneliness
• a means of empowering those who may be suffering abuse and neglect, if appropriate to transfer them to specialist services to protect them from harm

and they ask us all to get involved in any small way we are able to:
  • Volunteer with us.  Whether you can offer a few hours or a regular amount of time, we would be pleased to hear from you.
  • Get your company to partner with us.
  • Support us through a trust or foundation
  • Fundraise in your local community
  • Take part in a sporting event or challenge
  • Donate – online, by post, by text
  • Shop with one of our online partners
  • Recycle unwanted items
  • Sign up to receive our newsletter
  • Follow us on Twitter or Facebook, then share our posts with others

Maybe it's worth taking a visit to their site? I've been considering becoming a volunteer - just need to sort it out - anyone else doing the same?

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Occupational Therapy in the Media

This week's tv schedule showed two  prime time programmes engaging with Occupational Therapists.

The Great British Bake Off for Comic Relief showed a very small - but perfectly formed - piece on a small area of the work of  occupational therapists at Combat Stress, David Murtagh, Lead Occupational Therapist  was featured with service users who bake cakes as part of their therapy.

Watch the episode here: bbc.in/1NjLhsf     (only available in the Uk until end of March 2015).

 ‪#‎DIYSOS‬  was next with a programme explained as:  
"After 20 years serving his country, royal engineer and paratrooper Mo Morris was given a medical discharge due to prolonged and continuous damage to his knees. He has been left struggling to walk unaided, and suffers near-constant pain.
He is trapped in his home, which is totally unsuitable to his needs, but help is at hand - Nick Knowles and the DIY SOS team rally the troops of the local community and together they adapt the house, give Mo back his independence and take the pressure off the whole family"

Watch the episode here: .//bbc.in/1BefTFq (only available in the UK)

These two programme follow hot on the heels of the recent Guardian supplement in January of this year that indicated the value of and role to play for occupational therapists in the crtical challenges currently facing the NHS and social care system.

What never fails to amuse me is the instant excitement I feel whenever OT is mentioned or demonstrated in the media in a congruent and contemporaneous way. I am heartened to see that this seems to be happening more and more these days - maybe slowly but surely our work is being recognised.

Do you have any other examples to share?

Friday, 6 February 2015

Good Luck to our applicants for the full time BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy

At the moment we are at one of the busy times within our undergraduate admissions cycle with the process of interviews and selection. I am always heartened by both the motivation and the high standard of the applicants we see during this process and it is often a difficult task to select only 56 from the 120 or so that we interview. We are constantly seeking ways of ensuring this process is fair and robust and offers a clear selection process for all involved - so one of the new changes I have brought to this process  is the introduction of Values Based Recruitment.

 Values Based Recruitment (VBR) works through identifying values and attitudes of the applicant and how they fit the organisation and/or nature of the business – in this case occupational therapy.
There are, of course many drivers for introducing VBR but we particularly consider the 

The NHS Constitution (2012) and  the introduction of the 6Cs of healthcare. All of our applicants are assessed against these values in a variety of ways through the process.

For those wanting to know more about our entry requirements and interview process please take a look on this blog and visit our FAQ sheet here

Looking forward to meeting all of our applicants selected for interview over the next few weeks.

Monday, 27 October 2014

"No place to be ending but somewhere to start...."

There has been much publicity recently about the work of the charity PlayList for Life and their work
encouraging the use of personally meaningful music on iPods in the care and treatment of people with dementia. They are currently collaborating with Glasgow Caledonian University and other academic partners on a research project to measure the efficacy, constraints and economic advantages of offering personal music on iPods to people with dementia in different care settings.

 The idea was developed 2013 by broadcaster Sally Magnusson following the death of her mother after a long struggle with the condition.
Read more 
"Evidence suggests that the personal nature of the music is what triggers autobiographical memory, renews a sense of identity and gives someone who spends a lot of time feeling ‘out of it’ a wonderful feeling of belonging".
"Compiling a playlist of a person’s life requires you to get to know them better and sharing it with them – through listening together – makes conversation gloriously possible again, even if it remains one-way. Human interaction is what people with dementia desperately need and so frequently lack, often because those who love them become increasingly stumped at how to engage them. Sharing a playlist brings people together.  That in itself is a therapy for dementia.  For those in the healthcare sector this approach embodies all the principles of person-centred care."

They go on to offer some really helpful tips to decide what to use and how to compile a playlist for life (click here) with someone who is already experiencing dementia with some really useful ideas for starting conversations or doing a little detective work for example:
  • Did your relative go dancing in their youth? What songs or bands might they have listened to?
  • Did he or she go to the cinema and enjoy particular films?  Some of the old ones have memorable theme tunes.
  • Did he or she ever mention a particular radio or television show? A theme tune could prove evocative.  Some people have also responded to dialogue from familiar old programmes.
  • Did, or does, your relative go to church and enjoy hymns?  What are the favourites? A minister or priest, past or present, might have some suggestions.
  • What music did your mum or dad walk down the aisle to?  What hymns were sung at their wedding? Which songs did they dance to afterwards?
  • Did he or she go to Sunday School as a child, or was a member of the Boys’ Brigade, the Guides or Brownies, or the Scouts? They all have songs associated with them.
  • Did your relative sing in a choir – a church choir, perhaps – with a repertoire that others in the choir would remember if he or she does not? The current choir leader would know the perennial favourites.
  • Was there a school song that an old school-friend might remember?
  • Is your relative of an age to have been in the war, either at home or on the front, and familiar with wartime songs?  Which in particular?
  • Did your relative play the piano or another instrument?  Might there be old sheet music around to give you clues?
  • Did he or she play in a band ever? What did the band play?
  • Do you yourself remember any records being played at home?  Do you have them still? Might a relative or friend have records in the attic you could ask to see?
Why leave this until someone may be experiencing memory loss and dementia? How about we use some of these tips to have a conversation now with relatives/family/friends to help us understand the things that have helped shaped identity and that are still valued today?

In case you were wondering - the title of this post comes from Sade, Smooth Operator