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

Friday, 28 May 2010

Where is my suitcase?

I thought I would take a few moments to let those of you who have been following our Chilean Adventures know that my suitcase HAS STILL NOT ARRIVED. I was very excited a couple of days ago, because I has a call to tell me it was being delivered to my house. Unfortunately, it turned out not to be mine, and furthermore was stuffed full of unmentionables - see below. I have now written to Air France, and decided to copy you all in .

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am a Senior University Lecturer in the UK who has been working hard on collaborative work with international colleagues for the last 18 months, in order to be invited to present at our World Federation Congress. This happens once every four years and this occasion was to be held in Santiago, Chile.

Much work had gone into the presentation, securing the funding attend, and indeed in considering the image I wished to present to my professional peers across the world. To this end I packed my bags very carefully with clothes and work related items in readiness for my trip.

Air France delivered me safe and sound in Santiago, but unfortunately my luggage was nowhere to be seen. Whilst I was made aware of the immediate needs fund, as I was only in Santiago for 4 full days, and these were booked for the conference, I had no opportunity to shop. My professional image was not therefore, quite what I had been aiming for (jeans and t-shirt, rather than a smartly tailored suit). If it wasn’t for the generosity of colleagues I would have had no access to clean clothes, electronic devices or other such necessities of conference life.

I still do not have my baggage, and it is now 4 weeks since AF lost it. I have been given a case containing men’s underwear, but unfortunately this isn’t acceptable. Whilst I acknowledge that baggage can and does go missing, my complaint is aimed at the way in which your customer service department have managed the process since then, particularly;

1. The loss of my time and money in making almost daily calls to AF

2. The lack of continuity in information and direction (see timeline, attached)

3. The sheer number of mistakes made by your customer service team

4. The limitations of the immediate needs fund

5. The loss of my claim for immediate needs compensation

6. My total lack of faith that my claim for total loss compensation will be managed in professional and timely manner.

I am writing to you in the hope that you will ensure my claim is now handled appropriately, and that you can illustrate that your procedures are actually fit for purpose. I have been documenting my professional trip via the University of Salford blog at www.frederickroad.blogspot.com and on Facebook, which I also use for professional purposes. My loss of suitcase has been much discussed, with a colleague composing a little ditty that I thought I would share with you:

You've lost my case, Air France, Air France

and now I've got nothing to wear

All I've got is a man's dirty pants

and clothes that I'm having to share

bum bum.

It would be nice to have a happy ending to this situation would like to think that there could be a speedy and successful resolution to my concerns as I would rather not invest more time and energy in seeking legal advice. I am currently submitting a claim for total loss compensation. Please could you ensure this is managed appropriately?

Yours faithfully,

If this letter doesn't work, I might have to resort to creating something like this video. To tell you the truth, I quite like the idea of it. Who wants to join in?

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Of planes, airports and home

The journey home!

Taxi arrived early so we were happy to be on the move at last. Both Porter and Taxi driver seemed bemused that there was only one case between us - saying "lost" accompanied by shrugging of shoulders and splaying hands palm upwards in front seemed to do the trick. Journey to the airport was mainly in silence due to tiredness and Sarah needing to finish the good bit in her book - after which she remembered why she normaly doesn't read in moving vehicles!
The views from the taxi began to demonstrate the diverse distribution of wealth - from urban palaces through to a huge shanty town of what could only be described as huts with corrugated iron roofs - more like sheds I guess.
Arrived at airport and immediately to the Air France area to discuss the suitcase situation. After speaking with the check-in girl, then her supervisor and then a long wait for someone in baggage we finally learnt that her suitcase had been on its own holiday with a Turkish airline and was now in Paris. They promised that they would inform Paris to send to the UK and they would deliver it to Sarah's home. Now, call us pessimistic if you will - but we have little confidence of this!! Sarah asked to be upgraded for the inconvenience and we were told that the plane was full (didn't believe this either!).

It was at this point that Sarah lost control of her non verbals and every employee of AF was treated to a harsh stare as we went from check-in to departure area- stopping en route to eat - which restored humour a bit.

At the departure gate we were met by the girl from check-in who was waiting for us with new boarding passes - she had given us exit seats so at least we had leg room- and thus saving the rest of her colleagues from the Bodell stare.

There was again a third man on the end of our row - but true to form about half an hour into the flight he disappeared so we spread out a bit (I wonder of we should be proud that we seem to have ability to make people disappear - or concerned?). In fact at breakfast (about 10hours later) - even the steward was asking me where the gentleman had gone !
Little sleep was possible on the flight so we dozed on and off, watched films and read - for ever it seemed - then we finally reached Paris - and for the first time we were in the same place as Sarah's suitcase although for a brief moment!

After practising a little french - oui, merci! we went to the departure gate - delay of about half an hour on our flight but manageable. Sarah could almost smell the imminent possibility of full iPhone access once again and in fact as soon as we touched down at Manchester she was on facebook!

I reunited with my suitcase with a sigh of relief, Sarah was told yet anther story about how she needs to go about getting her case - still not convinced that what they have found is actually hers.

So, we come home to spring sunshine, a hung parliament, chaos on the stockmarket, and an empty fridge. After dropping me at home (thanks), Sarah's dad then took Sarah home to kids, dog and empty fridge.

Thus ends our Chilean adventure, we thank you for following our exploits and for all the support. We will of course be following up on some of the issues we have raised here and at conference so watch out for other related posts. And we will of course inform you of the eventual conclusion of "Suitcasegate". Am off to stock the fridge, unpack and get ready to teach on Monday.
Bye for now.............................................(PS check out earlier posts later - I shall be correcting typos, adding photos and creating relevant links later today)

Thursday, 6 May 2010

As we prepare to leave.........

We have an hour before the taxi arrives to take us to the airport and home so we thought we´d spend time summarising our fantastic journey.
Status: money -OK, weather rain overnight but now warm and sunny, luggage: Sarah´s still awol - did have visions of it turning up just as we checked out -but not happened. UK airspace clear of volcanic ash from unpronouncable volcano. Very, very tired not helped by sirens and horns and sounds previously unknown to man outside the hotel at 4am this morning. Decided that was not imminent ending of world so went back to bed.

Briefly managed to catch up with friends over breakfast and wish Dan Johnson (practitioner of the world) and Joanne Inman (Lancashire Care Foundation Trust) best of luck for their presentations today. We will be keen to hear how it all goes when you both get back to the UK. Note to Dan from Sarah: please be judicious of your use of the photograph you took of us at breakfast as I have three day old clothes on and a rather haggard expression!!!

After packing my suitcase (trying to shield as much of this activity from Sarah as possible) we headed out to the local Mall to do some last minute shopping for gifts (think Manchester Arndale on a bad day!). After 20 minutes even we couldn´t find anything more to buy so returned to hotel for final snooze and check out before 12 noon.

As we wait for the taxi, how can we summarise this experience:
a) looong and tiring journey
b) own clothes not essential for ADL but preferred
c) cash essential
d) iPhone not essential but preferred
e) there is great merit in international networking both real and virtual
f) the value of the conference lies less in the formal learning opportuniites and more in the potential to develop relationships.

So to answer some of our original questions
a) should OTs be involved in disaster/emergency scenarios? WFOT had a whole stand at conference and have been working hard at engaging discussions in this area. Our own discussions came to the initial conclusion that working with survivors/victims in re-establishing roles, routines and communities can be a vital role for occupational therapists as can working with the "powers that be" who are in the political arena to ensure that temporary communities can meet the occupational needs of those affected.

b) Is there a difference between networking using online social media and travelling the world to network? Yes, but both are valuable and can be effective in initiating and maintaining personal and professional links
c) Is the uk system of healthcare stifling occupational therapy? Hmm maybe not ready to put our views here yet - more reading to be done
d) what do a group of international OTs look like? suitably diverse in age, gender, culture and personality. Whilst one may suggest that there are OT stereotypes within certain arenas there doesnot seem to be a one size fits all stereotype as to what an international OT looks like

OK. so some acknowledgements before we dash......
a) Thanks to Sue Braid our Head of School for her support and trust in us to represent the School on the other side of the world. We hope we have served the role well.
b) Thanks to our colleagues Anita, Merrolee and Karen who have been an inspiration and a motivating force and with whom we have spent many hours of laughter, fun, visionary thinking and hard work - all in a good cause and we can´t wait for the next stages of our master plan. We wish you luck with our presentation on Friday and are so sad to be missing it - but you will all be inspirational I´m sure.
c) Thanks also to those of you who have been following our blog and offering support and sympathy as relevant - especially Kirsty, Heather and Jackie in the OT team and facebook friends Denis, Helena and Gail and Bronnie

We will write of our journey home later and once home our intention is to revisit the posts and create links and upload photos so please visit again when you get chance. Wish us Bon Voyage. Adios until later.........

Of Planning, networking and fond goodbyes: Our Last full day in Chile:

So, we made it to conference for another day. Weather: overcast and rather chilly (excuse the pun!), solvent - just, still no suitcase for Sarah. Today the bus arrived at a more human time so we were able to have breakfast and ride to the conference in style (reclining leather seats in a bus!). Scenery on the way to the centre goes from urban through suburbia, industrial and finally mountainous - unusual but maybe couldn't be described as beautiful. Strange looking wall lined much of the dual carriageway which preoccupied Sarah for most of the journey imagining it to be a vast scale climbing wall - however think the sticky out things were more likely to be there to hold stuff and not people.
First stop - coffee (of course) and in the queue we got chatting to a Professor Josman from Haife in Israel. Very interesting to hear of their successful undergraduate and post graduate programmes - they usually have about 400 applicants for 60 places on the UG programme. They also run a Doctorate in OT. We explained a bit about our MSc Advanced OT programme that is delivered entirely online and has a great international focus (taking applications now if anyone is interested - contact Sarah for more information).

Soon realised that Sarah's luggage situation was the talk of the conference (well nearly!). Usually most people started a conversation on an expectant "so has it arrived?" and then complimented me on my clothes sense given that we were sharing a wardrobe.
We made contact with Michael Iwama at the conference reception and had a long chat with him. We welcomed him as a recent Honorary Professor at Salford University and as someone who has been a keen follower of our MSc programme and has often given us glowing feedback we are delighted that we will be working more with each other in the future. Michael is due to visit the University in June of this year (watch this space for more details soon).

The plenary session found us sat at the very front of the auditorium immediately in front of the podium in between WFOT council members and Team Chile. I was just following Sarah who seemed to be woman with purpose in finding seats. We now expect to be seen on all official photos from the morning session! At this session we learnt that there are 324,757 OTs practicing in the world and 702 WFOT approved programmes. Three countries were awarded associate member status at council this week who are working towards developing OT programmes - the Seychelles being one of these - good luck to you all.

Towards the end of the session we learned of a project in the pipeline working on issues of social media that Ritchard Ledgerd was leading on. Before we could say "time for coffee" Merrolee had found us (not hard given where we were!) and had marched us towards Marilyn Pattison of WFOT to say "we're your crew" or words of that effect and was pointed towards Ritchard who was stalked until cornered by us (but he did used to be a colleague of Sarah's at Fazackerly hospital in Liverpool ). Whilst slightly stunned into submission he very quickly regained composure and was generous and welcoming of our experience and offers of contribution. Merrolee was then on a mission to strip us of our British reserve and got us to practice admitting and owning the fact that we (OT4OT group )- are leaders in the field of online knowledge transfer for occupational therapists - scary thought!

Later on we were able to meet properly with Ritchard to start the ball rolling in beginning a WFOT project team for these issues and were surprised to hear that WFOT staff are all volunteers.
It was at this point that we heard of more problems with the volcano with the unpronounable name spewing out volcanic ash. Consenus would appear to be that we should be Ok to enter UK airspace on friday lunchtime - but given our track record to date - we are trying very hard to remain hopeful!

So we finally left conference having made some new connections, re-affirmed existing connections, established friendships, raised the profile of University of Salford and our occupational therapy programmes,  and created a "to do" list longer than Sarah's climbing wall. Our brains are now stuffed full of innovative and creative possibilities and we are re-energised in spirit if not in the physical.
All we hope for now is that Sarah's case does not arrive in Chile once we have left. Our final post will tell you of our journey home - assuming we make it that far.

Night night.......

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Of Radical Views and Real friends.......

Yesterday was the first full day of conference for us, the first WFOT Congress to be bi-lingual with simultaneous translation at all sessions. Slightly hairy moment when had to hand over passport to get gadget for translation particularly as this is possibly the only thing that Sarah owns at the moment (still no suitcase). All was well however and they have now been returned to us - won´t be stuck here (famous last words springs to mind!).

Whilst queuing for registration (Sarah was of course invisible and they had to work hard to find evidence of her registration adding to her feelings of insignificance and pathos) we were spotted by Anita Hamilton - our facebook friend and co-presenter from Canada who came across with a big hug for us -and then proceeded to be amazed at the tallness of Sarah for most of the day. Merrolee Penman (Aotera/NZ) another fb friend and co-conspirator had saved us a place for the Key note lecture. Karen Jacobs (USA) our third co-presenter was then introduced to us - what a whilrwind! Given that we had only ever met in cyberspace we immediately fell into a warm and relaxed camraderie and spent many hours together through the day and evening.

The Key note speech was given by an eminent ecomonist (Manfred Max-Neef)who had some rather radical anti neo-liberal views on world and personal ecomomies for example the recent crash of banks (due to "greed and stupidity")required 17 trillion dollars to stem the problem - this sum would have stopped world hunger for over 500 years.
He was advocating a stem of globalisation and presented myths about this and that unlike both Blair (globalisation is irreversible and irresistable) and Thatcher (there is no existing alternative) he believes that we should replace greed and competition with solidarity and compassion stating that economic growth is not the answer to everything.

The day overall provided us with much food for thought. An hour of so spent chatting with Frank Kronenberg (a newly appointed Honorary Professor at Salford) has possibly turned much about how we think of our profession on its head - but that´s for another post - we need time to reflect and assimilate before going public with this very radical view! Frank will be vsiting the University in October - watch this space for more details.

Sarah, as usual, did a sterling job at networking- in fact almost every 10th person came upto introduce themesleves as facebook friends. We also stumbled upon a poster presentation that has given Sarah some links with Canada who have been working on a similar project to Sarah´s Ning thing with a local trust so this was a very fruitful stumble.

On the news front, still no case, ok for cash (so far). Managed to borrow mac lead so Saerah could be seen plugged into the wall at various times of the day to seruptiously charge the laptop - which now charged will not give access to internet so we are now limited to 5 mins access a day at conference.
OK, breakfast calls then bus to conference and another 12 hour day at conference site before we can relax again. More tomorrow.........................

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Santiago and a World of OT

Just a quick post to chart our day yesterday. After meeting up at breakfast with a colleague form the UK we braved the Metro (Sarah has major doubts about the UK tube system so this was doubly brave on her part) which went rather smoothly - but very fast!!
Stopped off at the Universidad de Chile and had a wander through the courtyard watching student life in Chile - very similar to Salford but with more sun.

Found ourselves in very artisan area of the city where many hand made goods could be found - fascintaing and the people were so friendly and helpul allowing us to practice our spanish or should I say spanglish?! From there we took the funicular railway to the top of a small mountain to San Cristobal sanctuary where the Mother of Santiago overlooks the whole of the city. What stunning views of the city and the surrounding Andes - breathtaking. Sat for some moments of quiet contemplation then back down again.
At various points in the day our thoughts and discussions covered such issues as:
a) should OTs be involved in the early stages of emergency aid\disaster relief?
b) is there a difference between newtworking using social media or travelling the world in reality?
c) is the UK health system killing occupational therapy?
d) What will a collection of international OTs look like?

We are hoping that these and others will be debated over the next couple of days as we prepare to go to conference. Watch this space.......................

A Problem shared makes two...........

OK, thought we´d take a slight detour around the problem based learning opportunities that have presented themselves by Day Two of the intrepid Chilean adventure.

Problem One: How to cope without an iPhone.
Solution: impossible! Turn off access to wi-fi, cry a bit and then use it anyway - hang the eventual costs

Problem Two: How to explain that the toilet is broken in your room without the iPhone app translator being available.
Solution: first try the well tested british solution of speaking loudly with mime accompaniment. Resist temptation to get technical as to why the toilet is broken (ie flush not working), respond quickly to recipient´s non verbal cues and just say " the toilet is broken". Problem solved

Problem Three: First "ethical" dilemma. Do you let friend and trusted colleague sleep on the plane even though you realise that their head is disappearing over the edge of the seat into aisle OR wake up said friend to avoid problems later?
Solution:Do not leave them to sleep. This results in said friend waking up without the use of their neck and fleetingly believing that they had experienced an inflight spinal cord injury.

Leading to:
Problem Four: How to lift head up when neck not working
Solution: Using two hands for about 10 minutes to prop head up.

Problem Five: How to work out currrency using the exchange rate 685 pesos= one pound with no maths skills and no access to iPhone app.
Solution: Guess - hang the costs - again

Problem Six: How to eat when cash brought with you runs out and ATM machines will not acecpt the three cards you brought with you
Solution: Suck teeth, try not to panic, eye contact imploring each other to miraculously solve problem, ring Dan Johnson, sit in foyer of hotel like waifs and strays, walk around the city trying every ATM to be found. Jump and shout joyously when one finally works '"hurrah can eat tonight!"

Problem Seven: How to live through the days with no suitcase, no clothes, no necessities and no gadgets except for one mac rapidly running out of charge with lead in said case
Solution: celebrate that friend is same size and packs for an army, ask facebook friends for loan of gadgets, ask at regular intervals at reception if case has arrived - believing secretly that it is some great conspiracy. Then sit back and think of the compensation.

More to follow I am sure as the days progress.................

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Of Earthquakes, lost baggage and a world of occupational therapists........

As promised here is our first blog post from Chile. What a journey, anyone who tells you that it is a good idea to spend 24 hours travelling to a conference for three days and then do the same thing again on the return is spinning you a tale!! In our naivete (geography not being a strong point) we had convinced ourselves that it was a 9 hour flight. Only the night before, after reading the tickets more closely (and thus a moral in the tale!) did we realise that it was 14 hours from Paris - therefore door ro door was a little under 24 hours.

Flights were on time, we were on time, all went to plan - apart from a moment of disappointment whilst boarding the 777 - walking past seats a plenty with space, leg room and built in speakers etc - and realising that these were not for the likes of us as we were shown to our own seats - squished in like kippers, or is that sardines?. Luckily the third man in our row of three took great umbridge at the man in front constantly reclining his seat and asked to be moved which meant we were able to spread out a bit.
We had planned to use the time wisely on the flight - pour over the conference programme and work out the optimum attendance at sessions. Oh dear, flight spent watching "Love Actually", trying to sleep, eating rather bizarre combinations of food (lamb meatballs with semolina), and trying to work out how long we had left before arrival.
First problem was encountered at Santiago airport, Sarah´s case never showed up, Air France are convinced it will turn up tomorrow - wonder a) where it has gone and b) why they are so convinced it will show up tomorrow?). Luckily I have packed enough for any contingency so we should be Ok if it doesn´t arrive.
Anyway, finally arrived at hotel, very nice if a little basic but we desperately needed a bit of a nap. Just dozing off and the beds started to move. An earthquake!!! Apparently epicentre was about 400 miles away but we felt it quite strongly here. Too tired to worry too much so after packing an emergency "earthquake bag" ie all important things we might need to be grabbed when we run, we went back to sleep!
We have just returned from eating a rather nice Asian meal - yes I know we are in S America - but we couldn´t find traditional fare local street seems to be dominated by MacDonalds, Starbucks, Pizza Hut and Dunkin Donuts! Although we did try a local cocktail Pisco Sour - hmm ok but wouldn´t choose it again!

We have begun to make contact with our fellow presenters at conference and have begun to make rendezvous appointments with some of our facebook colleagues in order to network and plan for any future collaborations.

The conference starts in earnest on Tuesday so we have tomorrow to get in some sightseeing before the hard work begins. I am unable to post photos yet as I cannot get internet access on my notebook (am sat in an internet room in the hotel at the moment) but Sarah and I will be reporting on the conference and our exploits as regularly as we can either here or on our Facebook page. I now feel the need for another lie down and maybe need to look at the conference proceedings too.

Here´s to an uneventful night!!!!!