Well, now we may be in a position to reveal some of the discussions we had that sent our minds into overdrive.
Frank arrived in Salford on Thursday and was met by Heather Davidson and Chris Kenney, who have been the main instigators and organisers of the successful visit. He was brought to the university where he briefly met members of the team and then was whisked away to deliver a session in the virtual classroom to our MSc students. The Vice Chancellor had invited the OT team to his house for a drinks reception with Frank as guest of honour - with both of them having lived and worked in Cape Town, S Africa they were old acquaintances and each aware of the energy, philosophy and work of the other.
Most of us arrived within time of each other and then waited for Chris and Frank to arrive, and waited......and waited..........
Now, I'm sure Chris may want to tell her own story - and in fact on hearing it twice now it gets better with the telling and creates a very visual image... but in a nutshell it involves a missing piece of paper with an address on it, a guest of honour in the passenger seat with an unfamiliar mobile phone, a car and an optimistic outlook that could only be described as blind faith!!
That said, eventually everyone was in place and a pleasant evening was had by all in stylish surroundings and with good company of the team and invited guests.
Next day, Frank met with those in the team that were free to meet and we talked about many issues of the profession, how we are moving forwards at Salford and what sense of connectedness we had as a programme to our local communities. The overarching theme could be described as "get naughty...but smartly" brought about by discussions that as a profession we tend to be "good girls" (and as Frank pointed out, even as a nation we tend to be rather tolerant and accepting of injustice and controlling edicts) and often do not speak up for what we believe in or what we can offer. Therefore we should be smarter about how we challenge and should begin to turn disadvantage into advantage within our practices as we do with our clients/service users.
The afternoon saw a lecture theatre full of students, pratitioners and representatives from local organisations and agencies in a seminar delivered by Frank.
He suggests that occupation integrates the medical and social models. That we cannot discard one or the other, but by the analogy of a pendulum clock with the medical and social models being at the end of each swing left and right and occupation being the clockface or hands of the clock that makes sense of the swing. He suggests that "participation in dignified and meaningful occupations of daily living is as fundamental to all people's experience of health and wellbeing, quality of life as eating, drinking, belonging and loving" (Kronenburg 2004)
His charismatic and inspirational style had us looking at things in a different way and challenging preconceived ideas and assumptions. For example:
- what is poverty? there is a tendency to measure from an economic/income perspective - but we should also be looking at it from a social deprivation perspective
- Stop looking for problems to solve all the time, instead look how to understand how people live and their connectedness with others in their space/world
- What is the relevance of occupational therapy? Proportionally only a handful of people worldwide have access to occupational therapists, but if the whole world had access, how relevant would occupational therapy be to their world?
- that as a profession we may be pre-occupied with existential angst as a result of external pressures of following a scientific agenda and the internal pressures of living up to our full potential. All of this is potentially diminishing the art of occupational therapy.
- That maybe we should be looking to other areas of the world - for example latin america where there has been a paradigm shift into a more socio-political awareness.
Some of these themes connect with and expand on some of the discussions Sarah and I had with Frank in Chile. We were talking about the 3P Archaeology expained in Frank's new book (‘Occupational Therapies without Borders: Towards an Ecology of Occupation-Based Practices’). and I replicate some of the reflections on our discussion here, Sarah and I are identified by the black font and Frank's response in blue:
These discussions have provided much food for thought - and I'm not sure that I have truly managed to answer all the questions or managed to excavate enough so far - but I'm sure these will be ongoing discussions within the team for some time to come.
Unfortunately I had to leave before the seminar had ended so I will rely on my colleagues to offer feedback on the rest of the session but on a final note I would like to share one more quote from the seminar
"Each of you is bigger and more beautiful than your professional identity".
We would love to hear from anyone who attended the session to share any impact on your professional development. Also, any who were not able to attend but have something to share about the issues raised please feel free to comment and share.