Thinking OT

Thoughts from Harrison Training and the occupational therapy world

Posts Tagged ‘music

Social Media in Occupational Therapy. Why Bother?

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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.

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Beauty and Art in OT

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In my first post I commented on the BAOT quote from Octavia Hill which stated;

“‘The poor should never be denied beauty.’

I ranted there about the judgments and relationships that such a comment represents, although I recognise that socially altruistic benefactors could get away with that kind of thing back then.

I want to look now at the choice of the word “Beauty” and what that means to the profession.  It is clear that the BAOT feel it applies or else they would not have chosen this quote.

The word “Beauty” itself can usher in subjective judgments, the eye of the beholder and all that, but I think that if we reduce it down to a very base meaning then it becomes more universal.

Let me give an example.  When I was speaking to colleagues here at Harrison Training about this, we felt that beauty could apply to several areas of what we do, including beauty of movement.  We are not necessarily talking about high-art concepts of balletic motion, but simply movement with function.

There is a request, for example, on the BAOT page on Facebook, for help on one handed hairwashing.  Now, the act of hairwashing itself is of course utterly urbane, but the enabling and delivery of this functional movement would be a beautiful thing for that client.

Beauty can also apply to the central notion of occupation, that sense of experiencing time as being useful or with meaning.

I suspect it was originally used in an artistic sense also, namely that beauty and art are synonymous. 

While Octavia Hill was talking about access to beauty and art as being the end goal the profession has moved forward.  Art is an integral part of our intervention tool kit, enabling our clients to create meaning and expression.

I am mindful of the use of various art mediums as intervention;

  • writing both, journalling and creative;
  • visual art;
  • physical art; and
  • musical and percussive art.

That creation of meaning and expression is central to our condition.  Just look to today’s news of the ongoing research into using scans of brain activity to enable communication with coma patients.  Consider, in particular, this excerpt;

“It is lawful to allow patients in a permanent vegetative state to die by withdrawing all treatment, but if a patient showed they could respond it would not be, even if they made it clear that was what they wanted.”

So, beauty, art and the creation of meaning and expression. 

On the other hand, we might all be so busy that the concept of beauty bears no relation to our day to day work?  Your thoughts?

Neil Denny

Written by harrisontraining

February 4, 2010 at 12:25 pm