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

Monday, 15 February 2010

When real world and literature collide.....

I felt I must share my recent experience with you that reflects on Heather's post on our recent seminar from Andy Burnham. I attended the seminar, and I will admit that I was expecting a slick, new labour spokesman who was only going to offer the "party line" and use the opportunity to "sell" their latest policies in readiness for the upcoming election. How wrong I was. I was greatly taken with Mr Burnham's depth of knowledge of his current role and his genuineness in wanting to share his vulnerability with us. Even a moment of humour when his mobile rang and he hastily switched it off with "I wish Gordon'd leave me alone!".

Anyway, over the weekend there were times I was thinking about my own career pathway in all its twists and turns and wondering if I had stuck to the principles valued by said Mr Burnham - be true to yourself, your values and your beliefs, show others around you that you are confident and committed to what you are doing and thus be an inspiration to those around you. (Hmm not sure that was always the case - maybe that's a whole other blogpost!) and there were times when I was not reflecting on this at all.

Sunday evening was one of these times - everything stops between 8-9pm whilst I watch the BBC Lark Rise to Candleford - adapted from the novels of Flora Thompson. It was during this latest episode that a book called Self Help by Samuels Smiles became central to one of the storylines which demonstrated the importance of character, perseverance and conduct "if we want to better ourselves then application, diligence and cheerful persistance is all" (Dorcas Lane the post mistress). After the programme I thought I would see if this book really existed or whether it was just part of the script. And it does!!

"Even the humblest person, who sets before his fellows an example of industry, sobriety, and upright honesty of purpose in life, has a present as well as a future influence upon the well-being of his country; for his life and character pass unconsciously into the lives of others, and propagate good example for all time to come."Smiles S (1866) Self Help revised edition London:Murray.

I wonder if this is what Mr Burnham was meaning when talking about his own experiences? He stated that at each stage of his career development ( from being a journalist in Manchester, then as a Parliamentary Researcher through to MP and now Secretary of State for Health) he felt he was being exposed to a level he had not dealt with before and asked himself "can I really go in and discuss at that level?". Each time he stepped up a level he thought "you're out of your depth now!" and expected at any time someone to tap him on the shoulder and ask him to leave. I know he is not alone (and neither am I ) in having that feeling on a regular basis!

His answer to this is that this is "normal", but by being true to yourself, your values and your beliefs then you will give the right impression and people will begin to believe in you. Talk about what you know, stick to your guns.
As Shakespeare says: " This above all, to thine ownself be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man" (Hamlet)

Ultimately I guess it is about having higher expectations of yourself and not hindering your development (and maybe the development of others) by not starting something new because you feel "out of your depth". Stick a toe in the water - once you've got your feet wet you may as well dive in!!!

Friday, 12 February 2010

Leadership Event for Occupational Therapy and Allied Health Professions

If anyone has ever felt slightly out of their depth then read on…… Today we have had Andy Burnham (Secretary of State for Health) speak to students, staff and external guests about his experiences of leadership and his views on what it takes to be a leader in the NHS and social care settings.

Andy was the opening speaker for a seminar series which will continue with speakers related to healthcare in its widest sense but also some speakers specific to occupational therapy and the way in which leadership is essential for occupational therapy to move into the future.

I should clarify that Andy Burnham wasn’t out of his depth during his seminar (!) but he referred to the feeling of progressing in your career into leadership positions and that feeling of being unsure of your position and feeling out of your depth but suggested that in those situations where you are challenged and where you are interacting with people in new circumstances that you are perhaps in the perfect place to develop your skills and confirm your leadership potential.

Andy talked about his experiences of challenges throughout his career and the difficult situations he faces in his current position and made reference to a particularly challenging week. Andy spoke of facing all situations with integrity and speaking about what you know and reinforced that you should never speak about ‘what you don’t know’.

I should also clarify how this came about as to have The Secretary of State for Health to open a seminar series may seem a little incongruous but Andy is my local MP (MP for Leigh) and agreed to come and speak on his constituency day. I completed a leadership development course as a clinician before moving into lecturing and he spoke to my group then when he was a junior MP and it felt right to have him speak as part of leadership programme that I am developing.

I have to admit to feeling a little out of my depth as the event grew nearer due to the status of the speaker but as Andy confirmed in his talk if you have passion for a subject and act according to that passion you have the components of success. I feel passionately that occupational therapists must develop their leadership skills with an awareness of the particular characteristics of the profession. That occupational therapists need to be encouraged to lead but that they should have greater awareness of the types of challenge they face in the NHS and Social Care so that they lead consciously and effectively overcoming professional and gender discrimination.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Part-time Lecturer (0.4wte) A/B in Occupational Therapy Fixed term contract or secondment– 2 years

University of Salford
Faculty of Health & Social Care
School of Health, Sport and Rehabilitation Science

Part-time Lecturer (0.4wte) A/B in Occupational Therapy Fixed term contract or secondment– 2 years (£tbc)

Occupational Therapy in the 21st century…

The future of the profession lies in having good graduates who are knowledgeable, adaptable, enthusiastic and creative.
The programmes here at Salford aim to achieve this, and much more.

The occupational therapy teaching team is made up of hard-working, innovative, independent team-workers. We are research active and involved in some new exciting projects. A successful research bid application has resulted in an opportunity for a part-time member of staff to undertake teaching on the undergraduate programmes for the period of the study. We offer a problem-based learning programme to full and part-time students, with a view to equipping them with the skills, knowledge and attitudes necessary for occupational therapy practice in the work settings of the 21st Century.

If you would like to bring your expertise and enthusiasm to this team, then consider applying for this fixed term post.

You should

• be an HPC registered occupational therapist
• have at least 2 years practice experience
• be an excellent communicator and role model for future therapists
• be able to work independently and as part of a team
• be well organised and creative

This is an excellent opportunity for anyone interested in the education of our future professionals

If you think this might be an opportunity for you, please call us.

For informal discussions contact Debbie Whittaker, Director of Occupational Therapy on 0161 295 2398 or d.s.whittaker@salford.ac.uk

Deadline for expressions of interest : 26th February 2010

Monday, 1 February 2010

A rose by any other name........

I have recently been involved in a brief yet relevant discussion on Facebook with OT colleagues around the world on our title "Occupational Therapist" and whether this reflects our role.

Since I qualified as an occupational therapist in the early 1980's there has been much debate over our title "occupational therapist" Throughout the decades there have been letters and articles within relevant publications each suggesting either a title change or a shift in practice to reflect the title we hold.

In 1983 BJOT received a number of letters in support of a poll for name change - with suggestions of Ergotherapist and Parotherapist being top of the list.

Gilfoyle's Eleanor Clarke Slagle Lecture (1984) clearly states the importance of defining and underpinning the profession with clear, unifying system of values that encompasses both historical and current concepts of the role and if this happened then a name change would not be necessary. At that time the profession was undergoing a paradigm shift - certainly within the UK. Moving from a diploma to degree training programme, the upsurge of models of practice and other evidence-based practices were developing and the title Occupational Therapist became a protected title

In 1997, Greg Kelly looked at the common themes of the BJOT over the previous 6o years, and title change was one of these themes.

In 2000, Catherine Moor in Therapy Weekly suggested a name change for the millenium. Her opinion was based on the fact that our main goal was one of rehabilitation using activity in achieving our client's goals and not "merely occupation" . Following on from the changes of the previous two decades Moor suggested that a name change to Rehab Therapist ( a suggestion first made by Elizabeth Cracknell in 1970 as Rehab Officer) might achieve greater understanding of our role. Letters flooded in over the next few issues, some in support, believing that a name change would stop the need for us to explain and define our role and offering also Ergo therapist, Independence therapist and Activity therapist to name a few. One letter from a Speech and Language Therapist strongly urged us not to change - her experience of their title change (to add the "Language" tag) was "more trouble than it's worth".

The essence of most of the responses was very much about occupational therapists embracing the term "occupational" and that those not addressing the needs of occupational beings should not be calling themselves occupational therapists. "The only way we can hope to be understood is by doing occupational therapy and being occupational therapists" (Matthew Molineaux response July 20th 2000 Therapy Weekly)

In 2001 again BJOT ran an article by Perrin (2001) Don't despise the fluffy bunny: a reflection from practice where she talks about occupational therapists having lost the art of fostering creativity and talks of a new Activity Therapist role at NVQ level to fulfil this need. Letters of response both for and against included the suggestion of Ability Therapists as a title change.

In the past couple of decades, there has been a strong professional shift towards the use of occupation in many areas of the profession - although not all. Many of the UK undergraduate programmes now have this at the core of their programmes and much time is spent defining and analysing how we use occupation within our diverse roles.

So it is interesting that what seems to be beginning is a questioning now of the term "therapist" within our title. Claire started the discussion off and my response was in agreement with her to look at the term "therapist"

Many people we work with here in the UK and our potential future clients (given the push to third sector working) do not see themselves as needing a therapist. Before our final year students go on role emerging placements we have to get them to practice how to explain their role without using words such as "help, better and problem ". Many people they engage with do not see that they need "therapy" or that there is something wrong or dysfunctional that needs therapy to occur. Instead we get the students to think about words such as "facilitate", "quality of life", "engage" "roles" etc.

Bronnie thinks it accurately describes what she does, and that it's a positive way to describe the process of working with someone

Anita Hamilton response is "Let's just keep doing a good job, telling people what occupation is and what amazing therapy it is for the heart, the mind, the should, the body, the spirit, families, communities and whole darn populations... just keep doing it!"

I open the debate to you here - any ideas?