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

Friday, 18 February 2011

"Do not lament the past".

On Thursday 10th February The University of Salford School of Health Sport and Rehabilitation Science was delighted to welcome Karen Middleton, Chief Health Professions Officer at The Department of Health to present on Leadership. Karen follows previous the speaker Andy Burnham, then Secretary of State for Health in a Leadership Seminar series organised by Heather Davidson, Lecturer in Occupational Therapy at the University of Salford.

Karen began her presentation with some background to the recent changes in the planned delivery of Health and Social care. She explained that whilst the Department of Health will be involved in setting the overall strategy for Health and Social Care, and will have a direct link to Public Health and Adult Social Care, the relationship with the NHS will be much more distant and responsibility for funding and procurement will be devolved to GP Consortia. Currently most health services are purchased from NHS providers; however Karen introduced the concept of a managed market place in which any willing provider who meets appropriate standards can be commissioned.

Karen emphasised that “The emphasis on the GP as purchaser of services, combined with an outcome rather than target driven approached, provides a massive opportunity for Allied Health Professionals to compete in this market place”, and whilst she acknowledged that some AHPs may not agree with the Government policy, she also advocated strongly that we must not “lament the past, as other professions are up and running”. Indeed, Karen asserted that unless we were able to articulate the impact of our role in relation to the outcome frameworks for Health, Public Health and Adult Social Care we would not survive. ‘Good clinical care is no longer enough’ she said.

Karen indicated that the focus on outcomes and purposeful lack of Government guidance on how to achieve them generates unprecedented opportunities for Allied Health Professionals who have now been afforded freedom to make clinical decisions and to develop their entrepreneurial skills. When articulating our contributions to the outcomes frameworks, and in influencing GP purchasing we should not wait to be invited to become involved, but should fight to be involved, constantly asking ourselves “What do GPs not know they don't know?”, and telling them.
Karen continued the presentation with her interpretation of leadership. “Leadership is about doing the right thing. Management is about doing things right” she said. Our services will be valued only if they articulate with the outcomes frameworks and so it is for each and every one of us to articulate exactly how this happens – if we can. Karen’s belief is that sometimes this will place us in direct competition with our peers; however this should be embraced in order to ‘do the right thing’. As she notes, the Quality Innovation Productivity and Prevention agenda is of utmost priority given the economic status of the country. We should be pushing forwards to contribute to it through creative practice and excellent leadership.

Karen encourages each of us to develop our leadership skills either formally through leadership courses, of informally through engagement with a coach or mentor. To end the presentation Karen shared a video of the finals of the Allied Health Professionals Leadership Challenge 2010 and encouraged those attending to apply to be part of this process in the future.

Further seminars are planned over the next 12 months with both an AHP and occupational therapy focus. Development of a student leadership challenge is at its early stages and Heather would also like to hear from any students or practitioners interested in attending a special interest/discussion group exploring leadership.


Thursday, 17 February 2011

The Quest for Truth........chapters 5 and 6

Chapter 5
As Rigour prepared to shoe the horse he thought of as Verisimilitude (who was in fact Bias) he picked up a piece of paper on the floor seemingly dropped by the scary stranger (who was in fact Confounded). He couldn’t help but read it and was delighted to read of the Quest for Truth and in that moment decided that he was the man for the Champion for King Quantit. As he went to return the paper to the saddle bag he accidently knocked out more papers that fell to the floor of the forge with a thud!
The big title “Data Set” was hard to miss! These were of course the documents stolen from the wizards. The Data set contained all the answers to all the questions ever asked in Probability. Before he could hastily put them back, Confounded entered the forge wondering what was taking so long. Luckily, even though Rigour knew nothing of stolen documents etc, his suspicion was aroused and he managed to hide the Data Set from view. He completed the task in record time, not wanting to spend any more time that absolutely necessary in the company of the stranger and his weird horse and excited to be on his way to the palace to propose himself as Champion (taking the Data Set with him).
Confounded and Bias were soon on their way – unaware that they were minus the Data Set. They too were heading to the palace with a plan to use the Data Set to cheat and find the Truth his way and thus gain the prize.
So, we leave this chapter with Holistic Perspective and his servant Dichotomous Data (who finally decided!), Rigour, Validity and Reliability (and Snowball of course) and Confounded Variable with Bias, all heading from the four corners of Probability towards the palace.

Chapter 6.
All were finally congregated in Chi-square immediately outside the A’Tives palace with a variant of a normally distributed population who had come to watch the contest – and indeed the spectacle of such a Quest.
Amongst the crowd was Data Dredging, a reporter from the Probability Daily Chronicle who was always on the lookout or links and associations without the need for reported facts! An ongoing liaison with Voluptuous Validity (no relation to our own heroine), who despite strong feminist principles and a need to challenge the public and private divisions of life was in fact a bit of a gossip, was a very fruitful source of material for Data’s by-lines.
Suddenly over the noise of the crowd, a fanfare could be heard, followed swiftly by our two Kings Qualit and Quantit. Beside the Kings stood their faithful servant Co-Variant , being the only entity who could vary and change his behaviour to suit each King’s needs without compromising his own personal qualities. In a loud voice, Co-Variant welcomed everyone to the palace on behalf of his masters and, unwinding a large scroll from his pocket he proceeded to announce the Champions and the tasks they were expected to perform.
This went on for some time, and a bit longer, and longer still. The crowd was restless and beginning to disperse when he finally came to the good bit.
Holistic Perspective was to be Champion for King Qualit and Rigour to be Champion for King Quantit (no surprises there then!). Cheers and jeers rang through the square as they were congratulated and the unsuccessful were laughed at. Validity and Reliability took the news with grace as would be expected. However, one person was less than happy! Confounded Variable was fuming, and as his horse, Bias, snorted derisively, he paced up and down deep in thought and hatching a cunning plan (for some reason he had still not checked his saddle bags and was unaware of the missing Data Set).
A hush was finally brought to the crowd as Co-Variant listed the tasks to be completed by each Champion in the Quest for Truth:
1.     To enter and traverse the Paradigm Forest. A place of anomaly and inconsitency that constantly shifted. Legend had it that if you survived the Forest then you emerged with a clear way of understanding and looking at the world around you.
2.     To travel the length of the River of Standard Deviation which turns, winds and often shape changes. It was slightly different to your average river – but nobody really knew why other than the fact that there were a lot of square roots along the way. However there was another twist to this task. The Champions had to travel the river on a Learning Log – very hard!
3.     The final task (if they survived the other two) was to climb a steep and treacherous outcrop known by all as Wittgenstein’s Ladder. Of course “climb” was not technically a true representation of what was involved, but a rather dumbing down of what was expected in order to simplify it for those involved.
We leave our Champions to take in the news of the tasks. At the moment they are a bit pale, but putting on a brave face and starting to plan their next move.
But what of the wizards?

Research Seminars ...

University of Salford
Directorate of Occupational Therapy
Seminar Series 2010-11

Students, staff and practitioners are invited to come along and listen and / or ask questions or discuss.

All sessions will be from 12 – 1pm, with a prompt start and finish. Bring your sandwiches.

Allerton Building
Semester Two

Thursday 24th Feb
Jackie Taylor / Angela Hook

‘The stories that people tell: experiences of receiving health care’
Thursday 17th March
Jo Mellson
‘The impact of sling materials on gluteal pressure whilst sitting in healthy individuals’

7th April
Rachel Gill
‘Occupational Therapy and Outcome Measurement: Reasons for the Development of the Evaluation of Daily Activity Questionnaire’

NB, if you are a practitioner wishing to attend, please contact Pam Hellawell on 0161 295 2396 to arrange a parking token.
For general enquiries email Jackie Taylor (j.taylor@salford.ac.uk)

Thursday, 10 February 2011

The Quest for Truth - continued........................

Chapter 3

Yomping through the land at just that same moment was Holistic Perspective (or Hol to his friends) and his trusty servant, Dichotmous Data.  Hol was a decent chap, of noble birth from the next village, Aposteriori where his father was Squire.  Like all his fellow villagers Hol believed that knowledge is gained from the experience, so he knew that it was windy outside right at that moment because he was experiencing it.
A selfless man, Hol put all others before himself (except for  his servant!) and always took into account the actions of all others around him before making a decision. 
Dichotomous was a bit of a village idiot if truth be told and could never make his mind up from one day to the next – was he fat or thin? Hot or cold? A constant trial to many people – but not to Hol who took care to always take this into account when asking Dichotomous to make a decision, which is why it could take a very long time indeed before a decision was made.
One such occasion was of course the advert for the Kings’ Champion. Should they or shouldn’t they apply. Let’s leave them for a moment to consider all their options whilst we focus on the furthest corner of the Kingdom.

The village of Apriori takes our attention now.  At the opposite end of the kingdom, this was a place where  knowledge was valued that was not reliant on the experiential element of gaining it.  If a thing can be seen to be, then you don’t have to experience it to know it for example it is known that dragons are green – you don’t have to experience being a dragon to know this – this was Apriori knowledge. In this village lived a strapping young blacksmith named Rigour. A very skilled blacksmith who was meticulous and scrupulous  in his task and paid close attention to detail. These skills he transferred to his dealings with everyday situations and his counsel was often sought by friends and fellow villagers to settle an argument or to help with big decisions.
One day a dark stranger came to the village, his horse in need of  a new shoe.  As he strutted down the high street, dressed in black, his cape swirling around him – despite the fact there was no breeze to speak of  (unlike in Apostieriori)– all the villagers  scurried out of his way and tried not to draw his attention – he had that effect on everyone he met. He introduced himself to Rigour as Hypothesis , an intuitive man with an enquiring mind and his horse Verisimilitude, a consistent and truthful companion.  He explained that he was a learn-ed man and was in search of new experiences and that he had run into a spot of bother a few miles from the village leaving his horse limping without a shoe. Rigour was happy to oblige and quickly set about stoking the forge in readiness for the new shoe making.

What Rigour and the other villagers didn’t know was that this man was not who he claimed to be. This was in fact Confounded Variable, a dastardly villain who was always an unforeseen and unaccounted for influence and jeopardised all he came into contact with. His horse was Bias with an imbalanced mind and who invariably gave people the creeps. Confounded had actually been trying to outrun three wizards from whom he had stolen some important documents that were of vital importance to the security of the whole kingdom and beyond. One of the wizards had managed to reach him with one of his spells whilst he was in flight which had resulted in the damage to Bias’ foot. However, Confounded still had the documents and time was running out.

Chapter 4

As night drew in, a strange light could be seen glimmering on the horizon very close to the village of Construct. Validity and Reliability with trusty Snowball were sitting on the front porch, discussing the Kings' notice and wodering how they could enter. They were also watching the light display and wondering what in Probability could be causing it. Was it some strange act of nature? Maybe a forest fire? They were far from the truth.

At the foot of the volcano, Abstract, sat three men – who could only be wizards. They wore the pointy hat and everything. And they were arguing – hence the light display as they fired insults and reprimands at each other it fits of pique.
Systematical, the eldest wizard was a serious man, a bit of a navel gazer,  and was questioning why the documents had been stolen, how it could have happened and what was the meaning of it all. Sceptical, who was always reticent to believe anything at face value was questioning whether it had happened at all and whether there would indeed be any consequences whilst  his brother Ethical, who  was a stickler for the rules and a safe guarder of the people  was trying to motivate the other two to do something to protect the kingdom and the people.

On and on they argued into the night. Let’s leave them arguing for  bit longer.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

The Quest for Truth- a fairy story

I was inspired to begin writing this one wet and windy weekend following a conversation on Facebook. This has turned into an homage to research terminology and makes no claim to be a robust academic piece of work. There may also be an influence from TerryPratchett , The Brothers Grimm and Enid Blyton.
 With acknowledgments to Ashley Bilen for the inspiration and Villan’s name (yet to be introduced) and for Snowball and Bronnie Thompson for the three step-sisters.

Chapter 1

A long, long time ago in a land far, far away  there was a kingdom called Probability where anything could, and certainly did happen.
Probability was ruled by the A’Tives, the throne being currently occupied by twin Kings Quantit and Qualit. They had accessed the throne rather suddenly as their father had died during the recent Plaigiarism plague that swept through the land taking people’s livelihoods. Two such different characters one would be very hard pushed to find. King Quantit rarely interacted with his subjects, preferring to observe his kingdom through a one way mirror and issue decrees and laws by the hatful. His twin brother Qualit however liked nothing more than moving around the kingdom as discretely as possible in order the interact with and observe his subjects and thus have an understanding of his people in a more socially constructed view.
The two brothers would argue constantly that their way was the best way until one day they decided to hold a contest to prove finally which was the best method of ruling– and the winner would take sole control of the kingdom.
Of course, being Kings they had no intention in taking part in the contest themselves – oh no that would not do! So a decree was issued, a contest planned and notices were sent far and wide throughout the kingdom to all corners of Probability to find a champion for each King.

The Quest for Truth:

We seek two champions to engage in a Triangulation contest.

One of you will be logical and rational the other will be symbolic and perceptive. Both of you will be expected to engage in a combination of MULTI-MODAL tasks in order to seek truth.

Whichever of you wins will receive riches beyond compare (once it has been established the baseline for comparison!)

Please contact palace for further details

Chapter 2
In another corner of Probability lived Validity Izabilty. Validity  lived in a tiny village called Construct which was not directly observable to  humans, but which nestled cosily between the twin volcanoes of Abstract and  Chaos. She was a sensible girl and took care to ensure that her decisions and expectations of others was well considered and balanced.
Life was never dull in the household that she shared with her father, the General  (who liked nothing more than applying his rules not just to his own household, but to the population at large) and her three  step-sisters Mean, Mode and Median.
Mean, who was not necessarily a nasty girl- just a bit misunderstood,  was of average height and build and was interested in the value of everything, Mode was a rather common girl who followed the crowd and Median was the middle sister.
A dog called Snowball rounded off the family group. A bundle of fluff who was not really representative of all dogs but was simple and cheap and could see invisible things and therefore helped Validity to link with the rest of his friends.
One day as she was sauntering through the neighbourhood , being sensible, with Snowball at her heel, she was suddenly interrupted by her childhood friend Reliability running towards her waving what appeared to be a sheet of paper in his hand.  Vailidity and Reliabilty had been firm friends since meeting in school. Reliability was usually a calm and reassuring influence, always the same no matter what the situation and Validity felt safe in his reliable presence. Reliability was in love with Validity – unrequited of course