Thinking OT

Thoughts from Harrison Training and the occupational therapy world

Archive for April 2010

Social Media in Clinics and Hospitals

with 3 comments

Our last blog looked at why should we bother with social media in occuaptional therapy.  We examined the benefits of re-telling, or passing on stories.

We also promised to turn our gaze to the Mayo Clinic.

The Mayo Clinic was the source of the YouTube video of a couple playing the piano together.  It is a wonderfully uplifting film clip, and just the tip of their media iceberg.

Here is their dedicated YouTube channel, their Sharing Mayo Clinic blog, and, inevitably their Facebook page, with more than 15,000 fans.

This is a remarkable effort, and one that has apparently been recognised through their nomination to receive a Webby Award, the Oscars of the internet world.

Why do they do it and what does it achieve?

Well, the introduction to their blog states this;

“A blog with stories from patients, families, friends and Mayo Clinic staff”.  Stories again.  The stories humanise what could be an intimidating organisation – both in its size and also its nature.

But staff blogging?  Many here believe that is a serious no-no within healthcare, but at the Mayo there is no such disapproval.  That is not to say that they do not care, far from it.  They have a strong social media policy in place though, you can read it here.  When organisations have policies and guidelines such as these then obstacles to communication can be managed.  Staff can be encouraged and developed in social media skills, and given the tools to get the organisation’s message out there, namely that they care, that they are human and relate to their clients as humans too.  That is powerful and much better than simply prohibiting staff from engaging with online communities that might come into contact with the clinic.

And look at that Facebook page.

One reason for prohibiting social media interaction is that someone might say something bad.  On the Facebook page, people do raise objections on cost, interference in sociol-political campaigns and even a veiled attack on competence, which is perhaps inevitable.  It is not an issue though, the Mayo Clinic has built up such a loyal following around it, that the less favourable comments do not stand out and you have to look pretty hard to find them.

Oh, and they even have their own Second Life area as pictured above.

What similar systems, where patients, clients, families and staff are encouraged to speak out have you seen in the organsations you work in?

Advertisements

Social Media in Occupational Therapy. Why Bother?

with one comment

Here at Harrison Training, we are discovering more fascinating OT blogs every week.

Today we came across Kara, a newly qualified occupational therapist in America, and her very personal and intimate blog “Be the change you wish to see in the world”

This particular post, “Another chapter in my book of life” impressed for several reasons, the first of which is this;

Many of you may have seen this already, judging by the massive number of viewings this clip has had, but it bears repeating because it is so charming.  It also demonstrates one of the powers of social media within occupational therapy.

The YouTube video is so evocative in setting up a vision, an aspiration of what older adult life can be like.  In doing so, it challenges our preconceptions about older people, their needs and what we might expect for ourselves in the years to come.

Other reasons for the success of the “Another chapter..” post by Kara, and social media generally, is that Kara talks about why she is passionate about her work.  She can pass on the YouTube video and in doing so relay that story but she also uses social media to pass on other memorable stories… The dead body of Mussolini hanging upside down from a tree, anyone.

But so what?  Why bother?  What is in it for Kara?

Probably nothing tangible, nothing that can be counted in pounds and pence, or dollars and dimes, or at least not yet.

But we all have a need to tell these stories, to hand them on.

In doing so, isn’t she honouring the gifts that her clients have to offer?

Kara is adding to the occupational therapy and healthcare community by sharing optimistic viewpoints but also, elsewhere on her blog, sharing challenges that she is facing.

Maybe we’re just being overly sentimental here, but we believe that social media has a critical role to play for all of us,  in our work and development as OTs and health care professionals.  We need the OT community to be fully effective so that we can support and encourage one another.  After all, there may be trouble ahead.

There are also benefits for our clients.  In a second article, next week, we will look at the Mayo Clinic from which this video stems, the work that they are doing with social media, some of the downsides but also the benefits.

I’m An OT. Let Me Out Of Here!

leave a comment »

Does the NHS internet firewall inhibit communication, innovation and effectiveness?

Here at Harrison we are very keen to see OTs and other health care professionals be all that they possibly can.

Our response to that, in part, is to work within social media and develop community.  It’s an attempt to share ideas and insights, encouragement and, as the tagline to this blog says, provocations for greater debate.  We believe firmly that increasing communication leads to development and progress.  As we increase our communication with one another, across our specialisms, and as we bring in ideas from other professions altogether, then we will find areas that we can learn from.

We also believe that for training to have real meaning and impact for you (and value for the people who are paying) that it is important to supplement our face to face delivery with associated online resources.  And that is where we suspect we are going to encounter problems.

Early feedback from people attending courses suggests that they very much wanted to see and use unique online communities to accommodate those people who are on a course.  People want to be able to see the material in advance, and to keep in touch with one another after the event.

The challenge that they have is getting through that great paternalistic guardian, the NHS firewall.

Industries in the private sector have all wrestled with this policy of internet access and use.  The restrictions and filters that appear within the NHS are restrictive and more onerous than many within other sectors.

To what extent does protectionism inhibit communication and innovation?  And to what extent is the NHS policy, ultimately, useless?  After all, many of us will increasingly have smartphones, such as the iPhone to communicate with the big world outside, as well as the big world inside the firewall.

So we came up with the idea of launching the “I’m An OT. Let Me Out Of Here!!” – a tongue in cheek campaign, to collect thoughts and stimulate debate.

Is the NHS firewall a hindrance and a frustration, or does it help you to feel safe and secure in the warm protective embrace of the digital overseer?

Would chaos ensue if there was open access?  Would everyone start Facebooking and Twittering instead of doing their work?

How would you govern online access and behaviour?

How would a more relaxed online regime benefit you, your practice, team and clients?

Managing Conflict in Occupational Therapy

leave a comment »

Harrison Training rolled out their Managing Conflict in Occupational Therapy course earlier this week.  This continues the development of Harrison’s interest in NHS and health care management skills training.

It became apparent that we all experience conflict within our work.  That is not surprising.  Conflict is in all that we do, whether professionally or socially.  We need to recognise where the potential for conflict lies and what our likely responses to it will be.

The mindmap shown above is one of the training resources that we used.  We highlighted nine types of conflict and then explored how they might arise within healthcare work, whether between colleagues, different levels of organisational hierarchy or with our clients.

We were able to explore typical responses and strategies to unblocking conflicts and also explore how our own actions often contribute to the conflict at hand.  The language we use, how we perceive ourselves within a conflict and who we speak to about it can all shape the destiny of any given situation.

The shift from blaming one another to an appreciation of how we might all be contributing to a problem is often a very powerful.  It makes the conflict safer to discuss and resolve.

By providing conflict awareness skills, team members can understand and anticipate possible conflict and where it might arise.  The result is that when it does emerge we are not taken by surprise and we have a range of lenses through which to perceive the problem.  That, coupled with practical strategies for resolution can help to cut the cost of conflict within our teams and organisations.

The course was very well received and prompted a great deal of discussion – the whole day felt like one massive conversation.