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

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Student Presentations

This official picture from Conference is much better than the rubbish one I took on my mobile so I though I would post this one instead. The smartly dressed man you see in the picture is Jason Vickers, second level student with us at The University of Salford. He was one of 6 students presenting at the conference and everyone in the audience, and subsequent comments on Facebook, have all agreed that they were some of the best presentations of the whole conference. It was great to see that the future of our profession is in their hands and it spurred us on to ensure that we encourage other students to follow in Jason's footsteps!

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Day Two of COT conference....

 Awoke after 3and a half hours sleep to a bright sunny morning again - and the news that the northwest was worried about drought (3 days sun in a row after months of wet weather and even floods not that long ago in Cumbria!).

It was an early morning start as Sarah and I were presenting our seminar at 8.30am (online identity, reputation and professional practice). What we anticipated being a poorly attended session, competing with sun, the beach and the Unison Party of the night before turned out to be a well attended session that created discussion with plenty of question and what appeared to be a positive shift in some towards creating their own online identities. Many left with the promise (or threat?!) of googling both Sarah and myself to consider our online presence and reputation (let's hope we practice what we preach!!).

After we finished we wandered down to the beach for a well deserved ice cream and met with Hassan and Zoe from COT and spent a really pleasant half hour or so sitting in the sun and chatting about a variety of issues around professional and educational issues. Then back inside for a look at the poster exhibitions etc.
Now. it is a known rule that you can't go to the seaside and not eat fish and chips, so at lunch we abandoned the queues for sandwiches and went to a little fish and chip shop at the sea front and indulged ourselves before heading back to the Plenary session where merit awards, Fellowship awards and Honorary Fellowship awards were given to deserving recipients - including a merit award for Jane Clewes from the North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare Trust who has had involvement with our team at the university for a number of years as a placement educator and visiting practitioner/lecturer on many occasions - Congratulations Jane!
The Elizabeth Casson Memorial Lecture was delivered this year by Dr Avril Drummond from the University of Nottingham whose message can be summarised as " todays treatment is yesterday's research" urging all occuaptional therapists to become more research active to enhance and increase the evidence -base of the profession.

Sarah and Jackie then went to deliver their poster discussion session so I took the opportunity to visit the Brighton Pavilion and have a short walk through the Lanes and the North Laine. Brighton is certainly a very cosmopolitan and relaxed place with a great diversity of people - I could people watch there for days and not get bored! Unfortunately an hour or so was all I could spare. Eventually we managed to get everyone from the team together for a jug of Pimms on the beach once the conference had finished for the day. In discussing our experiences so far of the conference it is worth noting that:
a) if the future of the profession is in the hands of the students that delivered the College-led session of student papers (including our 2nd year student Jason Vickers) then the future looks very rosy indeed. Their breadth of thinking and use of theory was outstanding
b) that the world of OT is a very small one indeed!
c) networking opportunities are the backbone of the conference experience - but beware - your past can catch up with you (see (b) above)!

I decided that I was too tired to go out for a meal with the rest of the team so stayed behind and sat watching the sea for an hour or so - then bumped into a colleague who had also stayed behind so we decided to find somewhere to eat together. On the way to a chosen destination, esteemed colleague and friend was "pooped" on from a great height by a seagull. Funniest thing ever!!!! Was laughing so hard that was unable to help with the explosion that had hit practically every surface on said colleague. Colleague not impressed!! So, after returning to the hotel and changing we started again - ever watchful of the skies above but managed to return with no further incident.

After a lovely meal, and a very pleasant evening I finally made it back to the hotel and packed in readiness for check out tomorrow and the final day of conference.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

First Day of COT Conference..........

What a day! I hope to do it justice here - but it is 11pm and I am pretty brain dead by now having spent the day networking and sharing innovative and radical views and ideas.

So, first day of COT conference here in Brighton, awoke to beautiful sunshine so off across the road to the sea front for a morning stroll and a few photos before breakfast. Bumped into Jackie Taylor and some of the other team members who were seriously exercising in the proper clothes and everything!

Three confereences were running in tandem (COT, Older People and HIV/Aids and Palliative Care) in addition to the only exhibition in the country dedicated to our profession.

So highlights of the day:
a) hot topics clearly the new coalition government and their expected plans for their Health Bill - trying to second guess the impact on the profession and occupational therapists nationally
b) social media and online networking is also clearly a growing area for discussion with many sessions covering issues around this
c) standing in a queue for lunch for AGES! Usually delegates are given bags with various lunch items inside - but organisers this year are competing with the beach, Wimbledon and England playing a vital match in the World Cup so needed a captive audience to keep people in conference to the afterrnoon - so plates and buffet food provided - which slowed everything up.
This led to Sarah having only 20 mins to eat and rush to her presentation. In the end a surreal experience where one of the exhibitors (Harrison Associates) were running around after us both with chairs, freebies and jelly babies to make us comfortable.  Ever seen 3 sandwiches, quiche and a fruit kebab eaten in 2 minutes? I have !!
d) freebies - status: 5 pens, 6 jelly babies, post it notes, 2 badges, 3 hessian bags, and a trolley token
e) Catching up with (2 of our MSc Advanced OT students
f) meeting with Hassan and Stephen from COT to discuss the COT strategy for social media and offer collaboration with our WFOT project with OT4OT in developing best practice guidance and advice for members in using social media for professional networking and development
g) spotting some unusual pottery mugs on the Remap stall and witnessing an entrepreneur moment when the Cosy Feet exhibitor came across and asked after the mugs (very stylish but with 2 "handles" for people with no grip) and wanted to stock them in her catalogue. Left them swapping details of the designer who was looking for a stockist. It's amazing the different levels and opportunity for networking one finds at conferences!
h) chatting with the new Head of Education and Development at COT (Anna Clampin) and catching up on the projects etc currently on the go.
i) session by Council on their role and how to "think nationally, act locally"

We left for the day to meet with a facebook friend and supporter of our work with online learning who gave a key note speech at the launch of our MSc and is now at University of Brighton. During our meal we caught up on both work and personal issues and had a great time - mainly at Sarah's expense - and although she may not thank me I feel it is my duty to share here.
Last year Sarah - believing she was texting her husband - texted - "please bring loo roll home". Now, our colleague has the same name as he husband - and it was to him she had sent it. He politely replied that he thought she had got the wrong person and suitably embarrased she apologised (all by text). Now, that was funny enough at the time! It turns out that her name had not come up on the text so he didn't know who it was from - but remembers a random text asking for loo roll. So.... whilst we digested the impact of this - what caused great hilarity was:
a) him realising that the text was from Sarah
b) he was in Australia when he recieved it
c) that he felt compelled to reply to a random text from a perceived stranger from the other side of the world because they might desperately need the loo roll!!!

So on that note I end with  two questions raised from the day:

a) should occupational therapy exist as a unique profession (a chance conversation, together with previous discussions at WFOT in Chile led to this discussion). We are looking forward to attending the debate on friday that will consider similar issues

b) what are the impacts of a misplaced text message?

I'm sure I have missed things out - but I really do have to finish as I have an early start and a presentation to give at 8.30am tomorrow with Sarah.
Here's to another day of networking and challenging thinking

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

We're here.......................................

OK,  we made it - intact and with the relevant number of suitcases, posters and handouts for our presentations - and those of some of the team once they realised we were travelling by car  as they were going by train. As some of you may recall Sarah's recent suitcase fiasco has definitely put her off all forms of public transport at the moment.
Journey down mostly uneventful -  started out later than intended due to mild family crisis - but soon got on the road, satnav loaded, ipods at the ready!

Phone call from O2 at some point rather amusing - called to sell their broadband package - but Sarah did a nifty little move - a verbal version of the Bodell stare and even the guy had to admit that she had managed to turn the focus on to her way of thinking rather than his own! She had used the opportunity to ask why she couldn't connect to bt cloud wifi on her iphone. After listening to her story and examples the guy gave a sound as though he were considering an answer and then said " well I was going to help you - but that's too hard - I'm only broadband" = bless!!

After a quick stop off at motorway services for replenishment we started the ipod competition. Best driving song (Beat IT (MJ) or Paradise by the Dashboard light (meatloaf)); best cheese (Tie me kangaroo down Rolf Harris or some song from High School Musical 2); best reminder of school (Boogey Nights - heatwave or Stop by Spice Girls) etc etc. Then we had a "maudlin" fest with Barry Manilow, Janis Ian and Abba. Will start competition again on the way home. Any ideas for categories gratefully received - I did a list and then left it behind!!

Finally arrived in Brighton 6 and half hours later and got to the hotel just as the rest of the team (who arrived earlier) were about to go out for a meal. We had intended to meet up later but unfortunately this didn't happen so hopefully we can catch up with them a breakfast.
Already seen a few familiar faces walking along the seafront - some from our facebook contacts and some from the "real" world so looking forward to the start of conference tomorrow.
In summary:
a) Angela gets to wear the whole range of clothes brought along with her this time
b) Sarah gets to wear her own clothes and present the image she planned
c) So far everything has gone to plan (famous last words??)
d) car parked on street in a zone that is free til 9am tomorrow morning - must remember to buy ticket tomorrow else car could be towed away!!

So, tomorrow conference starts in earnest - we hope to share some of the thoughts, discussions and maybe some of the lighter moments too. Night night.

Monday, 21 June 2010

It's off to conference we go.......................

Just a quick note to let you know that we are off to conference again this week. This time to the College of Occupational Therapists (COT) conference in Brighton. As a team we have been very busy indeed and have had many abstracts accepted which give you a flavour of some of our interests and expertise:

Sarah and Jackie: on-line social networking as a tool for professional development; boosts and barriers
Angela and Sarah: Using Negotiated Assessment in Higher Education
Kirsty and Heather: Occupational Therapy in Romania
Rachel and Ellen: Self-Directed Care - is there a role for occupational therapists?

Heather: Placing Leadership in the curriculum

Angela and Sarah: Online identity, reputation and professional practice
Sarah and Jackie: Facilitating teamwork in the NHS via an online social networking platform
Jackie: Rebuilding damaged identities through occupation
Heather and Chris: The creative application of leadership to your practice
Ellen and Deborah: Occupational therapy and older people: assessment and evaluation of health and wellbeing

Those of you who followed mine and Sarah's experiences at the recent WFOT conference in Chile may be amused to know that Sarah is not prepared to let her suitcase out of her sight for a minute and so we will be driving down - and not trusting to public transport!! We intend to blog daily from conference to give you flavours of what is being discussed - and of course what scrapes we may get ourselves into this time. Fingers crossed for a good conference. People to meet, things to see, busy, busy, busy..................

Friday, 11 June 2010

Dr Michael Iwama's visit......

We were fortunate enough this week to have Dr Michael Iwama visit us at the university as part of his current UK tour. Having just appointed him as one of our Honorary Professors within the directorate of occupational therapy it was doubly enjoyable to officially welcome him to his new role and to spend time with him as a team discussing future projects and plans.
I hope you don't mind Michael, but I would like to share your comments previously made here:
  • "The prospect of pursuing an adjunct or honorary professorship at University of Salford would not only be an honour; it would also formally bring me closer to your faculty and students. I have gone on record to say how much I respect and admire your program, and consider your's to be one of the leading and progressive programs in our profession in the world".
Discussions began with the view that historically occupational therapy was seen very much as a profession that "borrowed" theory from other professions such as psychology and medicine but now we seem to be the only health profession (certainly within those in Allied Health) that has its own models of practice. This should be celebrated as making us unique, strong and focused.

However, the age old issue of how one quantifies outcome measures for such things as quality of life in order to demonstrate cost effectiveness was raised and in forever changing times within the UK health and social care systems this is definitiely a point worth continued discussion.

Michael then told us more about his own career path and background - but I won't steal his thunder in presenting that here - you can find out more about him in other arenas I'm sure. He has certainly led a very busy and interesting life to date - and talks about it with both integrity and humour!

A number of provisional projects were mooted between individuals on the team and Michael that we hope will continue to fruition in the near future (watch this space!!)

The morning session was then concluded with a small gift for Michael from the University to welcome him to his Honorary Professor role. This gift had been intended to be given to him at the WFOT conference in Chile, but was in Sarah's Case - which regular readers will know went missing for about 6 weeks and never actually made it to conference. All is well now though.

The afternoon was opened up to approximately 150 practitioners and students for a seminar by Michael on the Kawa Model. Whilst some may have initially felt daunted that such a "name" was in front of them, Michael's charismatic presentation style soon relaxed everyone and we were hanging on his every word for the entire session.

It is not relevant to go into every detail of either the model (which can be found elsewhere) or on the presentation and discussion (as this may spoil it for future venues on the UK tour). In summary the Model was developed in order to privilege the narrative of the individual. In all other models it is suggested that the individual's narrative is taken and transposed into the language of that model which can often then have little meaning to that individual. The Kawa Model therefore offers a paradigm shift where the narrative is vital.

The other point very clearly made was that the Kawa Model is not a meta-narrative i.e it can be adapted and altered as necessary to suit the needs of the individual. The metaphor is the vital ingredient - and if the river is not working for someone then change it! One of our team (Kirsty) talked about using this within her work with families and using the metaphor of rock climbing instead as this held value and meaning to the specific individual.

The day was productive, informative, enjoyable and entertaining and we thank you Michael for taking the time to visit and for sharing your thoughts and expertise in such a generous and warm way. We are all looking forward to working more closely with you in the future.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Sarah's Case - the conclusion....

To those of you who have been following the saga of Sarah's case - it has been returned!!!
I have written a short poem to celebrate! We will return to more weighty matters soon. Thanks for reading