Thinking OT

Thoughts from Harrison Training and the occupational therapy world

Posts Tagged ‘challenges

What Does Occupation Mean? This.

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The Chilean miners stranded down their mine gives an example that OTs can use to communicate the value of occupation.

In a recent BBC article, here, Dr James Thompson, a psychology lecturer at University College London made the point that the priority was not to send anti-depressants to manage a situation but rather that;

“What they need is food and supplies and then systems building up and then to be given tasks to keep them busy.

“Maybe send down some equipment to give them something to do and to keep them involved.”

What a succinct and dramatic way of demonstrating the therapeutic role of occupation.


Written by harrisontraining

September 9, 2010 at 10:51 am

Challenge What I Think

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Changing What We Think

I thought was going to write about the NHS Confedration’s consultation paper, and looking in particular at the consortia that service purchasers, previously known as GPs, will be obliged to join.  I might get onto that later.

Instead I got distracted by a curious search that has come up on the blog stats.  It read;

“Challenge what I think”

Someone had searched for “Challenge what I think” and Google, in its infinite algorithmic wisdom sent them here.

That set in motion a chain of thought.  How readily do we open ourselves to being challenged in what we think?

The two topics are not entirely disconnected.  The angle I was contemplating on NHS reform was that it is easy to get stuck in resistance, anger and opposition.  We might rail against the system on the basis that it is

  • Wasteful
  • A broken promise
  • Unnecessary
  • Politically motivated
  • Unworkable
  • Meddling
  • Unwelcome change

or we can recognise that the march of this reform is inevitable.  Once we do that then the challenge is not to change the system or the political tide, but to look to ourselves and change how we are going to respond to it and engage with that change.

Note the word “Respond” as opposed to “React”

For those who are employed within the NHS, then we need to consider our roles within our teams.  How can we bring greater value, not just in pounds and pence, but in contribution?  What skills can we tap into to make our contributions more meaningful?

This has motivated the previous posts about self-effectiveness, or self leadership.  How can we position ourselves as being central to a team’s effectiveness, but not in a destructive way that undermines others, but constructively, helping to support and improve the whole.

For independent practitioners, how are you going to position yourselves in order to market your services to a larger number of smaller purchasers?  What do you need to do to demonstrate utility, effectiveness and ensure (to use the current buzzword) improved outcomes.

The current uncertainty needs us to remain adaptable.  It might mean getting to grips with social media – and the momentum that is now seen within social media and occupational therapy is very exciting.

It might mean, depending on how the consultation goes, that we need to be much more commercial in selling ourselves.

For some, let’s be realistic, it might mean looking for new roles altogether.

All of this needs us to be open to be challenged about the way we think.

We need to break the well worn patterns of X leads to Y and therefore Z applies. Experience shapes our responses so that if we find ourselves facing a situation we anticipate the outcome will the same as last time.  That can often drive how we respond.

And yet the outcome, to some extent, is shaped by our intervening response.  What if we choose, therefore, a different response?

What options have we got to select from?

What responses have we not tried previously and how might they serve us, and our service users and clients, better?

What new responses can we create for ourselves?

For more on this consider the issue of heuristics – there is a good summary on Wikipedia, right 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

NHS Cuts, Budgets and That Thing Called Leadership

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Leadership needs to be inside out, not back to front.

With the imminent election, and even more imminent budget, the future funding of the NHS, and possible NHS spending cuts is a real hot topic.

In my previous post I highlighted the NHS Confederation’s report on Rising to the Challenge.

I have just been recapping their fascinating series on leadership from Spring 2009.

The fact that there are going to be massive cuts and the need for efficiency drives within the NHS is a given.  It is going to be unavoidable, as it will be in any other public sector.  What is not clear is how the system, and the individuals within it, will respond to those changes.

It is a time for leadership to come to the fore on a corporate and individual basis.

Leadership needs to be inside out, not back to front.

What is back to front leadership?

Back to front leadership is reactionary knee jerkism.  Back to front leadership only looks ahead at what is to come and reacts to it.

It is like reading the last page of a novel and guessing what might happen in the other 250 pages for yourself to fit with the conclusion you have just seen.

It is reactionary and often misguided.  The steps that are taken might match the predicted outcome (reduced costs) but may make no sense along the way.

Inside out leadership is different.

It still sees what the big picture is – there is no self deception or self comforting delusion here.  However it then works from the inside outwards to ensure that the necessary re-organisation fits the outcome and is consistent and coherent throughout the organisation.

This is much more challenging.  It requires the ability of managers and leaders (very different roles by the way) to be able to communicate, reassure, be honest and yet still move the team forward.  It takes courage to make those unattractive decisions.  There is no room here for procrastination or avoiding tough decisions and the subsequent conflict that will arise.

These leadership traits are not simply required in those we follow or look to for guidance and decision-making.  We can all develop leadership qualities ourselves and, as we do so, then we strengthen our own positions within our teams, employment but also within our personal lives and decision making.

Personal leadership also needs to be inside out, not back to front.

As we challenge ourselves to face up to several years of turmoil within the NHS , we have a choice.

We can read the writing on the wall and despair.  Maybe some will just give up, or others will keep a low profile hoping not to be noticed in any cutbacks.  That is the back to front approach.

The inside out approach to self leadership will be to look at ourselves.

What is it that we do really well?

Where can we improve?

What value and importance do we offer to our clients?

What value and importance do we derive for ourselves from what we do?

What is it that really fires us up?

Where do you want to be in say 3 to 5 years time, rather than where do you think the system will leave you in 5 years time?

These are all internal questions but they will have a profound impact and shape your external presentation.

If you are sure of why you do what you do, and if you have a vision for your career which is rooted to your values then you will be seen as someone to be kept hold of, and even promoted as and when opportunities continue to arise.

People will see you as bold, courageous.  You will be called inspirational.  People will turn to you for your opinion and guidance.

You become sought after and increasingly central to your team or organisation.

You will not avoid the tough times ahead but will be better positioned to roll with them, take the blows and carry on forward instead of falling into despair.  This resilience will, again, position you as a natural leader within your organisation as a result of developing your internal self leadership characteristics.

Here at Harrison Training we are continuing to expand our leadership skills training program for occupational therapists and other health care workers at all levels of seniority.  Let us know if this is something that you would like to bring into your organisation, or access personally, to help you and your people rise to the challenges that are to come.