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

Friday, 30 November 2007

Second Life and disability

In the process of developing the MSc Advanced OT to be delivered via e-learning I have had to spend many hours experiencing and researching opportunities for social networking in order to provide/access social areas for our virtual learning community. During this time I have generated a profile (an avatar)in Second Life as a virtual person! This has been a strange yet addictive experience as I have navigated through virtual classrooms, cafes, libraries and the occasional wrong turn into the unknown!! Throughout this experience I have been concentrating on where we may set up a virtual seminar or meet students for a virtual coffee and a chat - however after a conversation over lunch with colleagues earlier in the week I have been sent along a an additional train of thought.
A comment was made as to whether Second Life mirrored real life and had avatars who experience a disablility/dysfunction, having a choice would people choose a disability for their avatar? Further searching of news items and blogs suggest that there are groups set up by and for people with a disability within second life. In addition there are suggestions that people who are unable to communicate/socialise/mobilise etc in their real world are creating avatars that can do all of these things- they therefore are gaining a quality of life that eludes them in their real world. What an excellent tool for occupational therapists to consider in their interventions. Of course, as with any new idea, there are problems and a limited evidence base available - but I feel a research project coming on!!!!
Any thoughts welcome.........

Some links

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Time for something different

I recently attended the COT managers and Educators conference, where one of the keynote sessions was the presentation of the almost completed BA/COT strategic plan. Once again the issue of promoting the profession and seeking to secure the understanding of others is a key feature of the plan, affording an implicit acknowledgement that “others” don’t really know what we do, and that it is our responsibility to educate them.

This is a recurring theme in my almost 20 year career. From beginning my training right up to present time the issue of “what do occupational therapists do?” has been the elephant in the room of many a multi-professional team meeting or management meeting or classroom. Clearly, as a profession (I know many individual OT’s who are quite clear about their role), this question remains current despite all our efforts to date.

So I’m thinking a different approach is needed. After all as someone once said “if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got”. I suggest we should stop focusing on being misunderstood, to stop trying to explain and justify our role, and to stop taking responsibility for educating our colleagues. I’m thinking we should just “do” occupational therapy, confidently and with conviction, and let the results speak for themselves.

And perhaps people are less interested in what we do, or how we do it than in the outcomes we can deliver. According to Karen Middleton (AHP Lead), this is most definitely the case. She reported that commissioners of NHS and Social are services are not interested in how results are achieved, just the results themselves. So maybe our efforts should be directed towards identifying methods for providing information that really is critical, rather than continuing to seek understanding of our role. Or maybe, just maybe, we should break free from the constraints of statutory services and spread our wings?

And just to finish, in case I have left an unanswered question; I completely believe that we must continue to seek the understanding of our clients, as without it informed consent to treatment is negated.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

More good news

We have debated the use and relevance of blogging and networking in previous posts, and we now have the opportunity to take the debate to the College of Occupational Therapists annual conference in June next year.

A small international group of OT's, all who of whom have "met" via their respective blogs put together an abstract for a seminar on this subject, and it was accepted! Without giving the game away, we will share our experiences (positive and negative)and relate these to CPD and other professional benefits. If you are interested in the bloggers involved, you will find links to their sites on the right - Merollee, Will (metaOT) and Aishel. As well as Angela and I at Salford of course!

The challenge for us now is to co-ordinate the preparation of the seminar - Second Life anyone?? My alias is Lilibet Clip...

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Who shall I be today?

You can be whoever you want to be online….

But is this a good thing?

The undergraduate occupational therapy programme at Salford University endeavours to facilitate student communication and networking via a virtual learning environment (we do also speak face to face to our students in case you were wondering!).

Last year however, some new students told me that they found posting on a discussion forum somewhat intimidating as it offered a permanent record of a particularly difficult moment or flippant comment or less than intelligent thought. They felt that this prevented them using the forum for its’ intended purpose and indeed it became more of an information sharing environment rather than a forum for debate and discussion.

This year, I discovered that it was possible to allow anonymous posting on the forum. Students have taken advantage of this and the discussion forum saw a lot of traffic. So far so good, I thought. But, I have now discovered that anonymous posters may be a little more forthright or personal in their views than identified posters. It is as if the cloak of invisibility removes the “would you say it to there face” test that others on this blog have mentioned before.

Moderating the boards becomes more challenging – constant vigilance is required and some posts have needed to be removed from the forum. Some students have complained that this prevents free speech, and that they are now reluctant to contribute… Back to square one. The boards once again seem to be becoming electronic notice boards rather than a dynamic environment.

The issue was really brought home to me though when one poster (anonymously) commented on the peculiarity of anonymous posting, and another (anonymously) agreed! So what do we do? Allow/disallow anonymous posts? Accept that the boards are being used in a meaningful way even if this is different to how they were originally intended? Police them or leave them? All comments gratefully received.