Thinking OT

Thoughts from Harrison Training and the occupational therapy world

The Meaning In Occupation

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The Meaning of Occupation? Just Doing.

The “What is Occupational Therapy To You?” post last week attracted quite a bit of attention both within the occupational therapy sector, but also from non-OTs.

You can follow the discussion there and see that the conversation in the comments.

I thought, when I wrote the article, that I was talking about that old chestnut of an argument, “What is OT?”  Readers however were more interested in the question “What do you DO?”

Jouyin Teoh, a blogger at OT on OT challenged us to drill down further and focus on the “occupation” within occupational therapy. 

When we talk about occupation within OT we use it in a sense that has no sense outside of our spheres.  To the rest of the world your occupation is “Yer job” and nothing more.  The common misconception that occupational therapists are people who only help you get back to work makes perfect sense accordingly.

When we consider “What do we do to give our lives meaning ?” then we are far more aligned to the client and their world view. 

So how can we open up this idea of occupation as just doing or being?

Quite by accident I followed up last week’s “What is…” post with an article looking at occupational therapy issues on Flickr . The thought occurs to me that we could share and celebrate what it is that we do by way of photography.

To that end, I have set up a Flickr Group page called “Occupation… just doing“.  I have seeded it with some photos of varing quality from my own collection.  These are photos of doing, or being, even the mundane things, which give meaning to our lives.

Why not share some of yours?  Take photos, whether on your mobile phone or dedicated camera, of you, or people you know, just doing things.  Let’s celebrate these things we do and get a broader understanding of what it is that we do, when we do what do.

This is not a competition, and there is no need for excellence.  This is simply about sharing and celebrating the joy of occupation.

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The Lesser Known Fringes of Social Media and OT

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My last post featured some photos I took on my way into the office.

At the time the pictures led me to think about this thing that we call occupation.

I subsequently went to www.flickr.com and posted the photos on there.

Flickr is a lesser known fringe of social media.  It is specifically designed to enable people to share photos.

While I was there I went to see what communities had gathered around occupational therapy.  There are a few galleries from AOTA and others, and a few stand out photographs.

Try these two for starters;

http://www.flickr.com/photos/b17flygirl/444094561/in/pool-occupationaltherapy

and this one;

http://www.flickr.com/photos/leaaaaah/458597582/in/pool-enabledbydesign

Feel free yourself to use the search bar on the  www.flickr.com website and see if there are pictures that inspire or move you.

Opening an account is straightforward if you are inclined to pitch in and get involved.

Different social media platforms present very different uses and opportunities.  Enabling clients to share their photography and visions could well have therapeutic intervention aspects.  Over to you to think that through.

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August 2, 2010 at 10:00 am

What is Occupational Therapy To You?

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The walk to Harrison Training's offices/ What Is Occupational Therapy?

View From The Bridge

I love coming to work at Harrison Training’s offices here in Bradford on Avon.

The walk from the station takes you across the river, filled with waterlillies and cool promises.

From there you go through the old part of town with its stunning Georgian properties and then walk past the church and up some steps, worn through centuries of use.

Steps leading to Harrison TrainingIt is hard not to imagine the lives that have been lived here over the years.

And then my thoughts shift.

How fortunate we are, those of us able to take these walks and enjoy our surroundings because, let there be no doubt, for all of the beauty in this town, accessibility must be a nightmare.

Inevitably, perhaps, I am drawn once again by this consideration of accessibility, to that old chestnut of a question – What is occupational therapy?

Take me as an example.  I am able to draw meaning, pleasure and fulfilment from being in, walking through and interacting with these surroundings.  And I wonder, is that the point?  Is that what occupational therapy is?

When we enable, reable, rehabilitate, when occupation is not career or work, but being meaningfully occupied, or stimulated, is this what we do?

Forgive me my more metaphysical ramblings this morning, but please share your thoughts.

What is it that you do when you do what you do?  What is occupational therapy to you?

Waterlillies

Will NHS Reform Change You?

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The dust has settled to some extent following the announcement of the Liberating the NHS program for reform.

The political explosion has subsided and we will now enter a period of calmer appraisal and acceptance, with varying degrees of willingness.

If you have not yet read the government white paper then click here

Two issues stand out as they may relate to occupational therapists upon our brief initial reading, namely

  1. The Government will devolve power and responsibility for commissioning services to the healthcare professionals closest to patients: GPs and their practice teams working in consortia
  2. To strengthen democratic legitimacy at local level, local authorities will promote the joining up of local NHS services, social care and health improvement.

How do you think occupational therapists will we be employed, or if we work independently, to whom are we offering our services, and how will we do that?

Will it be the various GP consortia?  How will they be run?  Will they be self governing, as a local collective, or will they be administered by external, out-sourced services from the privte sector?

How will we be required to work between local authorities and these new consortia?

And what of this passage, for those who work with adults?

We want a sustainable adult social care system that gives people support and freedom to lead the life they choose, with dignity. We recognise the critical interdependence between the NHS and the adult social care system in securing better outcomes for people, including carers. We will seek to break down barriers between health and social care funding to encourage preventative action.

Bland rhetoric or meaningful promises?

Let us know your thoughts about what might happen.

Are you anxious, calm, indifferent, angry?

Perhaps you can see opportunity ahead.  Tell us in the comments.

Over to you.

Written by harrisontraining

July 15, 2010 at 11:54 am

Award Winning Accolade For Therese Jackson, Harrison Training Associate.

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Harrison Training Associate and leading stroke care practitioner, Therese Jackson, has been awarded the Excellence in Stroke Care award by the Stroke Association.

Congratulations!

This is an auspicious award, recognising “exceptional service in the provision of stroke care.”

You can read Therese’s full associate details here, on the Harrison Training website.

We recommend visiting the Stroke Associations website.  They have produced a very impressive set of videos paying tribute to all of their award winners.  To see all the videos, click here,  to see Therese’s award winning video, click here.

How Do You Solve A Problem Like Absenteeism?

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Upon reading through our Twitter account this morning, I spotted this comment from Alyson Fennemore

How Much Does Absenteeism Cost Organisations? What About The NHS?

Reading the summary  report from XpertHR reveals that the cost of absenteeism within the public sector is “significantly higher” than in the private sector.

That is perhaps no surprise.

Further reading around the issue suggests that represents about 6 days sick leave every year in the private sector, per employee.

An earlier article, from the same source, puts public sector absenteeism, in 2009, at a whopping 9.7 days per year.

That might be a surprise.  Many people will read that and think “I haven’t been sick in years.”  Others are less fortunate though and find their working life and aspirations beset with absence.

I have recently been presenting to several NHS teams for Harrison Training, both to OT and mixed discipline teams, and they are invariably affected with absenteeism.

I’ll write later about how absenteeism ties in with the current economic climate.

I would love to hear, in the comments below, how absenteeism impacts upon your teams and your own ability to carry out your work effectively.

And what is your answer to the problem?

Thanks to Alyson for providing the original link in her tweet.

Written by harrisontraining

July 8, 2010 at 9:35 am

The Emergency Budget and the Need For Effective Leadership

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The press are becoming increasingly frenzied as they build up to the new coalition government’s emergency budget next week.

The news is  – cuts, deeper than ever, no-one gets out alive and the like.

There can be no doubt that the health service will be challenged, along with everyone else.  Resources will become increasingly stretched.  These are going to be testing times.  The question is; how are we, and our teams going to respond?

Many will be feeling despair and fear.  For many of us the spectre of work cuts might be very real.

The climate is ripe for self destructive behaviour.

People clamour to make themselves indispensible so that if the axe falls it will not fall upon them.  This in turn can lead to an individualistic approach which is ill suited to healthcare provision.  Organisations experience politicisation of teams, where individuals look to recruit alliances, mutual support and canvass for themselves and their chosen candidates.

Gossip, rumour and finger pointing can increase just as morale decreases.

And yet this is a time that calls for leadership on both an individual and a team level.

How will we discipline ourselves so that we do not fall into the above patterns of behaviour?

Will we get support?  Consider personal coaching or, at the very least, reading some books that might help – Stephen Covey’s 7 habits of Highly Effective People is a world leader.  If some of the contents seem cheesy and clichéd then that is only because it is the leading book in its field.  It is only cheesy in the same way that Romeo and Juliet is.

How we govern ourselves, in a responsible and principled fashion, will enable us to remain focussed upon our roles and goals as we travel through the turbulence ahead.

The qualities and skills we develop as individual position quite naturally to be considered for future leadership roles.  What is more, leadership is not only a question of appointment or job title.  It is a question of character, skills, restraint and behaviours.  Many of those can be learnt.

If you can keep your head and hopes, keep your dreams and orientation true, then you will keep heading in the right direction, come what may.  Hopefully you will take others with you, both colleagues and those we are providing services to.

If we can help with leadership, conflict or team communications training then please do get in touch with us at Harrison Training or speak to us at the conference next week.