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

Monday, 7 December 2009

Do you want a PhD?

Graduate Teaching Assistantship / PhD research student

University of Salford, Faculty of Health and Social Care

The Directorate of Occupational Therapy, within the Faculty of Health and Social Care is seeking to appoint a Graduate Teaching Assistant /PhD Research Student. The position will involve working with academic staff in a range of teaching, learning and assessment activities to support undergraduate student learning, relating to occupational therapy, for 180 hours per academic year. The remaining time will be devoted to a PhD research programme.

The proposed research topic is

‘Being on the receiving end of allied health therapies: the narratives of service-users receiving long term care in the community.’

The scholarship is worth £13,290 per year (2009-2010 levels) over three years. It is available to United Kingdom and European Union students.

Applicants must possess a good honours degree in Occupational Therapy and be able to demonstrate the potential to complete successfully a higher degree by research. This is an excellent opportunity for those wishing to complete a PhD whilst gaining teaching experience in Higher Education.

Applicants should submit a PhD research application form (including a summary research proposal) and a covering letter that evidences experience of, and commitment to, university teaching and learning at undergraduate level.

Applications close on Friday, 5th February 2010.

For further information contact:

Dr Jackie Taylor

T +44 (0)161 295 2383

Email: j.taylor[@]salford.ac.uk

Debbie Whittaker

T +44 (0) 161 295 2398

E mail: d.s.whittaker[@]salford.ac.uk

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Reflections on Romania - the Second Visit

Where do I begin? The facts are usually a good place to start, 2 lecturers, 2 undergraduate students, a recently graduated student and a representative from an Arts Charity spent 4 days in Timisoara, Western Romania looking at how collaborative links could be developed with an Art Therapy Centre and other institutions within the area. During the visit the students had the opportunity to run groups for some of the children that centred around the concept of identity. A there ends the easy part to report. The visit became a very intense role emerging placement with each stage challenging the fundamental principles of OT and the fundamental beliefs of us as a team. We met very welcoming people, some who were directors of their institution, who would have been more than happy for us to 'do' activities with their children and it was apparent this is what they thought OT would do. We also saw several other 'professionals' 'doing' occupational therapy and acknowledging that they used the principles of OT. And yet they were asking for OT, they want the profession to develop and be recognised within their country, so the questions that this posed to us are'what would 'true' OT do that would be different?' 'Why should a country invest money into a separate profession when it would appear to be incorporated within others jobs?'
Thank fully we came to some positive answers to those questions but it would be interesting to hear the thoughts of others.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Education in a changing environment

Hello, just a quick visit to talk about our latest conference attendance. Sarah and I attended the University of Salford's 5th Education in a Changing Environment conference last week both as delegates and presenters.

The Key note address was given by VC Professor Martin Hall who raised some very interesting points on open access of information and the importance of sharing knowledge and expertise as opposed to the current models of intellectual property rights. Interesting points indeed which we will be following closely in terms of how this may impact not just on article publication but also on blogging in the future.

Our poster presentation was on the use of Negotiated Assessments within the MSc Occupational Therapy online programme. In summary the poster explained how we enabled the students to design their learning to their own specific cultural and professional situations and the evaluations the students made on this process. We are hoping to do more work and evaluations on this aspect of the programme this year.

Secondly, we ran a workshop on the use of web 2.0 and social networking sites to enhance student learning. Participants came both from within the university and also from as far afield as Hong Kong and Denmark. Discussions were held as to the value of these applications with specific consideration of professionalism, creating and managing an online identity and some of the ethical dilemmas that may exist in this area. Sarah and I intend to build on this further with more work in the area of building and managing an online identity as a healthcare professional.

Both inclusions were well received and we look forward to engaging in more work in the future within the topic areas.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Of new beginnings and continuing relationships and projects........

Well, another academic year draws to a close and the next is due to start. Whilst we wrap up the last vestiges of 08/09 I have asked the team to identify those things that we have achieved and those we are all looking forward to for 09/10.

Regular readers will know of the first successful completed year of the MSc Advanced OT that is delivered entirely online.
  • All students have passed the modules taken and are progressing to the next year. Welcome back to them and a big welcome to those students who are currently registering and undertaking induction ready to start again on the 28th September with modules "Philosophical and Theoretical Base of Occupational Therapy" and "Emerging Practice/Extending Boundaries".
  • We can now announce that potential MSc students can be considered for APL (accreditation of prior learning) against relevant previous masters level study. Please contact Sarah Bodell (s.j.bodell@salford.ac.uk) for further details.
  • Lastly on this programnme we have been working hard to validate the modules to be "stand alone" modules. This means that you don't have to sign up to the full MSc programme but can take a module in isolation if it appeals to you and would help with your career and role development. Again please contact Sarah Bodell (s.j.bodell@salford.ac.uk) for further details.

Congratulations were given to Jackie Taylor (or should I say Dr Taylor) back in June for her PhD achievement. Jackie intends to do further research related to narratives in understanding experience, and also intends to de
velop her framework of the occupied self, which provides a structure for relating occupation to identity.

An MSc Psycho-
Oncology has been developed and is due to intake students to begin study in February 2010. A launch is currently being arranged and further details will be available soon (watch this space!). For further details please contact Viv Jones: V.Jones@salford.ac.uk

A great deal of time and effort was spent last year in getting the programme ready for Re-validation. This is a quality mechanism that is required every 5 years to ensure that the programme meets HPC and COT requirements for undergraduate occupational therapy study. It has involved ensuring that modules are upto date with current drivers and practice and that equity and parity are evident across both the Full and Part Time routes. This process will reach the finale when we are visited by HPC in February 2010 in order for them to approve the programme for the next period of 5 years. Fingers crossed!!

Congratulations must also go to Jo Mellson (previously Supyk) for her work with Klip-2-Lift. Jo has been working hard on this project which involves a hoistable clothing garment. This project has been chosen by the University's commercial enterprise team to be used in a forthcoming Business Plan competition. Briefly this will involve groups of student from a number of faculties developing a business strategy from the existing prototype. Students of University of Salford - keep your eyes peeled for further details on how to get involved. Jo will become both inventor and expert on the panel - very Dragon's Den! (Sorry about the photo - don't have one of the garment !)

We are also very much looking forward to continuing to furthering our relationships with internationally reknowned occupational therapists. In particular we have Michael Iwama (of Kawa River Model) due to visit the UG students next year and to be engaged in a podcast for our PG students. In addition, we have been discussing possibilities with Frank Kronenberg (of Occupational Therapy Without Borders) who is very keen to be involved with us here at Salford. Exciting times most definitely.

Kirsty and Heather are planning to return to Romania with students from the UG programme and a recent graduate to consider aspects of further links and opportunities with the Muzika charity and the institutions in and around Timisoara.

Sarah and Angela have been involved in obtaining a small award of £10,000 (from the Vice Chancellor's fund for Iconic Media City Projects) to work with staff across a number of Faculties within the university to buy virtual land and develop a virtual home environment (we are using Second Life for this). This will have a number of potential off shoots both for education and research. In addition we are hoping to be able to develop the space in order to hold our first MSc Advanced OT graduation ceremony in 2012.

Finally - we are currently arranging a Snow Ball event to be held 28th November 2009. This event is to celebrate occupational therapy at the university for past, present and potential future students. The event cost will include a meal, band (for those who remember Anne Miller this is a chance to see her band live) and a disco. Flyers and advertising will soon be out - (watch this space) We are hoping to make this an annual event so we look forward to seeing as many of you there as can make it.

So, in conclusion, a busy year ahead for the team, but one that promises to be challenging, exciting, hard work and yet full of development potential for the directorate and the profession as a whole. We will occasionally post updates on the blog - but please feel free to contact us if you have any queries or opportunities that you would like our involvement in.

Friday, 28 August 2009

A Fresh Start.......

As we are getting ready for the new academic year I thought a fresh start required a change in the way the blog looks! Hope you like it.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Webinars and Virtual Classrooms

Sarah and Angela held our first webinar a few evenings ago in order to give a taster of working in a virtual classroom. The webinar focused on the MSc Advanced Occupational Therapy programme content, delivery and application issues. Thanks to all who were able to attend - from as far away as Isreal and Belgium - and for engaging in questions and discussions using the virtual learning environment.
Anyone who missed this can see it again here (you may have to register at WiziQ first) - Click on MSc in Advanced Occupational Therapy link below:

We are intending to run more of these and will advertise on the blog and Fb group. If you'd like to be informed of any future webinars please let us know.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Who would NOT benefit from Occupational Therapy?

As regular readers of our blog might know our staff discussions here at Salford can be very thought provoking and somewhat challenging. Today we were attempting to think of a client group that would NOT benefit from occupational therapy and used ourselves as a test case.

At the moment we are a very, very stressed team; I personally feel I am drowning in a virtual lake as virtual realities are a theme in my life at the moment and then when I come up for air I am crushed back down by a mound of marking (That makes me feel breathless as I type actually…. Quick, think about air…. Phew). It would be fair to say that although none of us has any diagnosable conditions, we are clearly experiencing a case of occupational imbalance in the form of having too much to do, and not enough of it is fun. Loosely based on the Model of Human Occupation my assessment of our team is as follows.

Volition (Will)
This component of the model requires me to consider the team’s motivations for driving ourselves to distraction. We want to be effective do a good job, have interesting projects on the go, keep our minds occupied and sustain strong relationships with the people who matter to us at home and at work.

Habituation (Drill)

I now need think about how our roles, routines and habits contribute to our current state of flux, and they most certainly do contribute! I have many (often competing and contradictory) roles to juggle. My routines and habits are largely supportive of my worker role, but not so much of my personal life. Some of the factors that impinge on this are out of my control, others are consequent to the choices I make.

Performance (Skill)

Do I have the skills to perform? I do when my head isn’t quite so mashed! But just now, I’m struggling to put a coherent sentence together. My cognitive skills are taking a hit and they are the key requirement for my work, and my ability to manage all other aspects of life. I’m fortunate in realising that my colleagues feel similarly, and also in knowing that the steps to achieving occupational balance are achievable.


Despite having set out only to establish our candidacy for occupational therapy all good occupational therapists will end an assessment with a plan for enhancing occupational balance and/or occupational performance. We will….

Recognise our motivators. I’m happy with them and they are congruent with my personal and professional values.
Assess our work life balance and negotiate appropriate adjustment, creating more opportunity for down time either alone or with friends and family.
Accept that “good enough” is ok.
Acknowledge what is and isn’t in our sphere of control and not sweat the small stuff (or even the big uncontrollable stuff).

Hopefully our plan will create more “head space”, enhanced cognitive functioning and better output in terms of our motivators. In relation to the original question though, what do you think (yes, you)? Who would NOT benefit from occupational therapy?

Neuro-Occupation and Non-linear dynamics - just a thought

Just a short post to share an enlightened moment I had recently. I have been reading and searching for articles and research on issues of cognitive assessment for some potential research and development within virtual environments (more of that later when we have something to tell!) and I came across a site discussing non-linear neuro-dynamics.
Liked the sound of the term - had no idea what it meant so started to explore further and eventually came to Lazzarini's BJOT article on neuro-occupation and the non-linear dynamics of Intention, Meaning and Perception (2004) BJOT 67(8) 342-352.
Fascinating and much of what I read really made sense to me as an occupational therapist. To me the article gives some very clear definition and phrases as to how occupation is seen as a "process" and thus " the dynamic vehicle for the expression of intention through self-organised actions" and how, through engagement and interaction with occupation, "sensory consequences" are experienced and that is when meaning is assigned.
It looks at the term Intention - that most understand this as a conscious goal-directed term in relation to activity but then makes the reader think by suggesting that most activities (daily routines, cooking etc) are "second nature" and that the greatest fulfilment comes from total immersion so that "self-awareness is scattered to the winds" - bit like Wilcock's Doing, Being and Becoming and the concept of "flow".

The article explores many other issues and concepts - but have a read if you can - I can recommend it.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

CPD, Portfolios and Practice Educators

Hello to all our practice placement educators who attended this afternoon's meeting here at the university. It was good to meet you all (and to see some familiar faces - can it really be that long ago since you were students here!!!). Hopefully you have been stimulated by some of the projects and research opportunities we talked about - I know Viv will be sending out emails with the list attached so that you can also share the ideas with your colleagues - and who knows we could be collaborating on some very interesting yet diverse projects.

In terms of the CPD session I led, the key points to remember are:
1. Follow the HPC standards closely
2. If you are chosen for the audit in August this year you will need material from August 2007
3. If you have no material at all - start now - you will then be ready for the audit in 2011
4. If you are chosen you will need to write a profile
5. The COT and HPC have agreed exemplars for profiles for educators, managers and practitioner that you can use as a guidance
6. The HPC also have a very clear list of what CPD activity could be and what might consitute evidence

After demonstrating my own online portfolio (it's not quite ready to be openly linked at the moment - but those eagle eyed of you may have spotted the URL this afternoon and may want to visit. Watch this space as I shall link it through soon) it was interesting to consider some of the issues around public vs private profiles and what decisions might need to be considered before engaging in this. As was mentioned there are a number of software platforms that can be purchased for developing and maintaining a portfolio on line. I chose to use wikispaces for mine and have been influenced very much by Sarah Stewart (NZ ) here she writes about her experiences of developing an eportfolio. .
If you are interested in online presence and profiles then you might be interested to read a previous blog post of ours on professional blogging and also Sarah's Musings on the subject where she considers some of the aspects touched on this afternoon.

Anyway, hope you gained something from this afternoon - maybe you'd like to add a comment or even a reflection at the end of this post (if you're not sure here's a link that might help) - it'll all go to evidencing your CPD (networking with peers, reflection, developing online identity etc etc!!)

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Reflections on Romania

Myself and a colleague, Heather, recently had the opportunity to visit an Art Therapy Centre in Timisoara, Western Romania, to see the work that was done there by the Art, Music and Puppet Therapists. The centre is based within a state run orphanage and works with children who are resident there as well as children from a local school for the deaf, children with autism and children from divorced parents! The request from the Centre and Muzika ,(the music charity who had set up the initial links between the University and the Art Therapy Centre) was for students to do a ‘train the trainers’ package for professionals and carers working with children within or near to Timisoara. Heather and I were very much an advanced party to assess the feasibility of future visits. Prior to our visit we had spoken to others who had been to Romania and overall, reports were not particularly positive and Heather and I prepared ourselves for an emotionally challenging visit.
The visit itself went better than certainly I had anticipated; I personally had visions of meeting traumatised or neglected children that I would desperately want to pack in my suitcase and bring home! Fortunately for my husband and the children we met that wasn't the case and Heather and I were pleasantly surprised with the happy, welcoming children that we had the honour of meeting and observing during our time there. The Art Therapy Centre consists of essentially two large (ish) rooms and we observed several sessions within the centre and one in a private nursery where we saw the children engaging in Art and Music therapy and being shown or acting out well known stories such as The Three Little Pigs, Hansel and Gretel and the Giant Radish (like our giant turnip story!)

I think what both I and Heather were surprised to find is that, unintentionally, the philosophy and work of the staff in the centre very much echoes that of our OT principles and therefore it was hard to see what we could add to this. The visit threw up several more questions for us such as what are the orphanages actually like and what is the philosophy behind the care the orphans receive? Interestingly some of the children aren't actually orphans but, due to Romania not having a benefits system, several families can't afford to feed the children or look after them whilst they go to work, so the children stay in the orphanage during the week and go home at the weekends. I was also surprised to learn that the majority of the orphans only stay in the orphanage for 3-4 months before they then go on to foster families who are paid to look after them as they are here in the UK.

We were also told about the centres for the disabled, one of which is apparently very near to the Art Therapy Centre but we didn't have the opportunity to visit, and where apparently they look after much more profoundly disabled children than the ones we saw. Heather and I both felt that these are centres that we would like to visit and observe before being able to offer any training as, from our observations in the centre, I would certainly be concerned that we would be trying to 'teach' them something that they are already know and are doing.

It is with much regret that on reflection following the visit we have come to the conclusion that it would not viable for us to visit the centre again this June. The timing of June is not good as the schools in Romania are on holiday for the whole of June, July and August and most people take their holidays in June. Unfortunately our students will still be on placement during this time. I also do feel strongly that more observational visits need to happen in various settings before we could deliver a purposeful and meaningful (forever the OT!) package of training. I am concerned that without these visits we could make too many wrongful assumptions about the care that is already being provided which I, personally, feel would be unprofessional. Further visits would also enable the future of this project to be planned properly and have a clear aim of what the purposes of the visits are for the Centre, the students and the University.

Overall Heather and I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to visit another country to see the work of others trying to improve the quality of life for so many children. What struck us most was not really the differences but the many similarities between our situations and feel that further visits would improve our ways of knowing and doing as much as theirs.

Monday, 27 April 2009

COT annual Student Conference - online identity

Hello to all the OT students who attended the COT annual student conference on Saturday. It was great to see so many giving up their work/life balance to travel to Sheffield and spend the day networking, developing and generally having a good time.

During Sarah, Martin and Ryan's workshop on "online identity" ( presentation below) we spoke briefly about the issue of "netiquette". For those who would like to know more click on this link to take you to one of our previous posts that may help guide and advise on how to maintain a professional identity online.

We have tentatively offered the University of Salford as a future conference venue - so we may get the chance to see you again.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

The Connected Learner: University of Bradford

Sarah and I were invited to give a Key Note address at the University of Bradford conference: The Connected Learner: Distance Learning for the 21st Century last week. Through our networks we had been recommended to speak about our experiences in developing the MSc Advanced Occupational Therapy programme delivered online from registration to graduation (applications for Sept 09 intake accepted until August 24th 2009).
Whilst being nervous, we were very keen to both share our ideas and learn from the experiences of others.
The first Key note speaker, Palitha Edirisingha from University of Leicester talked of his work in the media zoo and the work of the Beyond Distance Research Alliance -. Palitha also referred to Salmon's 5 stage model of elearning which is something I intend to look at more closely in a quiet moment.

We then sat in on a couple of workshops on Second Life and the use of social networking in learning . As we were not staff at the university we had difficulty getting access to the internet - but it was a useful experience to see how delegates were introduced to Second Life, and the facilitiator, Will Stewart has kindly offered to share his extremely clear notes and instruction for us to consider using with our second year MSc students as we begin to introduce them to Second Life.

Lunch was very tasty, and we had a chance to chat to a few of the delegates. Sarah's chair nearly landed her in a very embarrasing situation - but luckily she managed to compose herself and the offending bolt from the chair was later found under the table to corroborate her story!

Sarah and I presented to the conference after lunch - potentially the graveyard slot - but we were well received and managed to keep to time. We explored (amongst other things) the importance of
a) the pedagogy informing the technology
b) being a student yourself of the technology before expecting others to engage
c) online identity (more of this soon in another post)
d) social constructivist approach - and being consistant with this
e) pushing boundaries and challenging self and others

We also shared what we have learned from our developments and what we have still to learn. Whilst there were very few questions immediately after our session, we were asked many at the plenary session. Most centred on how we are using negotiated assessment and the time resource requirements in developing and delivering a totally online programme.

What becomes clear as we network and reflect more about our programme is how innovative we are here at Salford with this MSc. Whilst there are pockets of online teaching and learning developments, very few are delivering whole programmes totally online using elearning principles.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to attend our Key Note address. We have been invited to join a couple of University online networks in Ning and Pebblepad - which we are looking forward to being involved in. We have also exchanged contact details with a number of people who are interested in what we are doing and may want to collaborate with us in the future. We are always happy to work with others and share ideas and experiences where relevant.

Time to regroup....

Has it really been that long since we posted? Our apologies to our regular readers - although as a team we have been undergoing some difficult times over recent weeks which I guess has impacted on much of what we do. In brief the University of Salford is in the midst of Project Headroom -
a plan to cut 150 frontline staff, with the aim of creating ‘financial headroom’ for investment - with particular investment in the planned Media City at Salford Quays.
To this end we have lost 2 members of our team to voluntary redundancy - so work has been in progress to look at how we will work with the Strategic plan whilst accommodating the changes within the team. Challenging change indeed! However, we have rallied and have some very clear ideas of the way forward. We are intending to focus on areas of collaborative research and innovation - so if anyone has any ideas they would be interested in working with us - let us know.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Competant, Proficient or Expert

image: St Pancreas Station statue
One of our recent posts has been discussing the issue of what undergraduates need to know. I did consider leaving this thought as a comment on this post - but decided to create a new post instead and would be keen to know your thoughts.
I really like what Creek(2009) has to say in her letter "Achieving a higher level of expertise". In this letter she discusses the nature of expertise in practice and states that within education, students are "taught that using a model for practice represents the highest level of skill" of the OT - a point she refutes by using Benner and Tanner's (1987) work on how expert nurses work and her own description of expert practice "the context of the intervention modifies the occupational therapy process and the therapists thinking, negotiation and action" (Creek 2003 p17).
The point she is making in this letter is that undergraduates are taught how to be competant and not proficient or expert in occupational therapy- therefore undergraduates need to understand that their approach to models of practice tends to be limited to an acceptable yet limited standardised and routine approach. Only with practice and experience can this be moved forward. Therefore those practitioners that are flexible, responsive and 'eclectic' with their use of models and interventions could be said to be practicing at a proficient and/or expert level.

Benner P, Tanner C (1987) Clinical Judgement: how expert nurses use intuition AmJ Nursing Jan 23-31
Creek J (2003) Occupational Therapy defined as a complex intervention London:COT
Creek J (2009) Letters to the Editor: Achieving a higher level of expertise BJOT 72(2) 90

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

what do undergraduates need to know?

Here at Salford we are constantly reviewing our programme to ensure that we are enabling the students to gain the necessary skills that they will need in order to be more than capable clinicians and hopefully to further develop the profession in the future. We have thoughts and ideas about what's currently working and not working for us but I'd be interested to know what others think about what skills you think a band 5 'should' have. We are told fairly regularly by a small (I think) number of clinicians that our students don't have enough knowledge of anatomy and physiology. Is this important? Do we need this knowledge as OTs? I would also be interested to see what others think about theoretical frameworks that we teach students. They seem to be getting and understanding generic models (MOHO, CMOP, Kawa River) but getting confused about what we called intervention models (CBT, Neurodevelopmental, Psychodynamic, Biomechanical etc.) We're wondering whether this is because we're not teaching it in quite the right way and find that students talk about referring on to others regularly and don't seem to be able to articulate what they're doing as on OT....we want more on therapeutic activity rather than using a CBT approach for example. All thoughts and ideas greatfully recieved.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

MSc Advanced Occupational Therapy -online

Just a reminder that the admission cycle for the MSc Advanced Occupational Therapy -online has opened for intake September 09.

Study in the comfort of your own home, share, compare and contrast your experiences with a virtual community of like-minded occupational therapists potentially from all over the world. Deepen your knowledge base, develop your thinking and become a leader within your profession. Not only will you gain academic award, but through negotiating your assessments you will also have the option of using your learning to enhance and develop your current and future work roles. Don't just take our word for it - here's some things that our students have to say about the course so far:

"I've really enjoyed being in contact with other students, in particular the student I worked with on the Model's formative assessment. It was great to talk and share experiences re: learning and the course. I've occasionally ventured into the social aspects of the course, and found it useful to be in contact with people in this way."

"It has facilitated my confidence in trying out new approaches with clients and has made me re-focus my understanding of what it is to be an Occupational Therapist. Fellow colleagues have also commented on the new terminology i now use in both my verbal and written communication....Thank you."

"Having just completed the PatBot module i have started questioning the way we do things here at work, which I suppose is only a good thing! I found the module really interesting and it has been a good introduction to the masters. At times the technology is frustrating but my skills have improved and I am now getting used to computer technology which has even made me learn how to put songs on a i-pod! Forward thinking hey!!!"

and finally - a student sharing their thoughts on one of the social wiki spaces for the cohort - talking to fellow students:

"Every now and again I start wondering why I ever started this journey, especially at the moment with work commitments, xmas, students and assessment deadlines looming. I have also commented recently, that sometimes I feel I am doing this on my own. However, after having 'one of those moments' recently, I have just trawled through blackboard and read some of the posts on the various wikis etc which you have all contributed to and they have left me feeling really inspired and excited and priviledged to be doing this and has made me realise that actually I am not doing it on my own and there is support out there in cyber space! So, if anyone else has 'a moment' of doubt ....try reading through some of our comments!

So, if you want to know anything further about the programme, or would like to send in your application for our next intake please follow the link to our website that should give you all the information you need. Please contact us of you have any queries.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Core Values or Core Skills ?........... You decide

Here is a post that is long overdue - I have been meaning to share these thoughts with you before now - I guess I am finding it hard to "verbalise" my thoughts but then I decided that I would just write them down and offer them for discussion and debate.
It stems from a session I was running with our third year undergraduate students, preparing them to go off to their role-emerging placements before Xmas. The session was discussing how one might offer explanation of what OT is and what an OT might offer the new team to a potentially brand new audience. Of course this seems to be an everlasting debate and one that has proved difficult for as long as I've been an OT (25 years) and before that too.
Anyway, I was offering the idea of using our core skills to define ourselves by and to identify those things that make us unique and asking students to offer their understanding of our core skills. Many were suggesting such things as client-centred, holistic, collaborative, groupwork etc and I jumped in with the view that these are not core as they could be said to be practiced by many other health and social care professions and offered my own understanding of core skills being the use of graded activity as a therapeutic tool, activity analysis , focus on occupational performance etc.
The wind was quickly taken out of my sails when a student pointed out that COT, in their briefing of 2006 (Definitions and Core Skills for OT) identify core skills as " expert knowledge and abilities shared by all OTs" and uses Creek's (2003- OT as a complex intervention) definition that states that our core skills are built around occupation and activity but then lists collaboration, assessment, enablement. problem solving and groupwork as part of these. Teach me to keep upto date with my reading I thought. However, I have since reflected on this and I do have some concerns that maybe, in order to end this debate we need to identify what is meant by "core" does it mean unique to a profession, or does it mean core as in the fundamental values of a profession? These may seem similar and possibly a pedantic exercise, but I believe that they are different and cause confusion when establishing the unique contribution and value that an occupational therapist can bring to a client and/or an organisation (see current discussions on our blog for another post discussing similar issues).
Maybe we need to talk about Core Values and Core Skills - I'd be interested to hear your views on this - please feel free to press the comment button and add to the discussion.

image created using Crappy graphs