Thinking OT

Thoughts from Harrison Training and the occupational therapy world

Posts Tagged ‘self-development

Join Harrison Training for Free Online CPD Training

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Here at Harrison Training we have been looking at using online training facilities as another way of delivering our range of continuing professional development courses for occupational therapists.

We now invite you to join us for a complimentary CPD training session on Thursday 30th September.  We shall be running the presentation twice, at 1pm and again at the early evening slot of 7pm.

The topic will be a new 1 hour course “Communication in Occupational Therapy” exploring how we communicate with our clients and colleagues and the problems we encounter.

This  presentation is packed with stories and practical advice and will enable you to communicate more effectively to save time and improve relationships in your practice.

Attendees will be sent a 1 hour CPD certificate to confirm their participation and supporting notes.

If you would like to join us, at no cost, then contact us for more details.OK

We look forward to sharing this session with you.

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Online Training? Your Thoughts…

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I am looking at what people’s preferences are regarding accessing training online. Can you help?  The more information we have, the better we can tailor our courses to suit your needs.

There are 7 very short multiple choice questions here which will take literally seconds to complete.

Thank you.

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.

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.

What Is Narrative Medicine?

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As I was reviewing the Mayo Clinic’s various social media channels (see my earlier blog post here) I came across this blog post by former patient/client Jillayn Hey.

Click through on the picture to read the blog in full

That in turn led me to this interview of Lewis Mehl-Madrona and his thoughts on Narrative Medicine.

The article suggests that “Narrative Medicine…asserts the importance of an individual’s whole life story to the person’s health-not just the medical history, but a story that includes ancestors and friends, interests and spiritual orientation.”

Given that the subtitle to this blog is “Thoughts, observations and provocations from the occupational therapy world” I thought this would make for good debate.

To what extent do we agree the premise?

The narrative movement can be seen in many disciplines other than medicine.  Another example can be found in narrative mediation, for example, as a dispute resolution process.

Allow me to break out of the OT silo for a moment, and look over to see what they do there.

Within narrative mediation the conflict that disputants find themselves in is held up as being a story that they are involved in.  Referring to the dispute, or, here, the question of illness or wellbeing, as a story is not intended to diminish how real that situation is.

The “Story” label, however, allows mediators, or maybe practitioners, to deconstruct the story.

  • Who are the players in this story? 
  • Who else is effected by it?
  • What is the plot? 
  • Crucially, what is the outcome?
  • How are we using language to tell this story?
  • How else might we re-tell the story, perhaps to a different audience?

A powerful part of narrative mediation, and I can see no reason why it would not have an impact here, is to set up the problem – the dispute or illness – as an entity within the story.  that in turn enables us to ask questions such as

  • How did this thing called conflict lead you to feel or react?
  • When conflict was around, did you notice anything different?
  • How did the pain invite you to respond to others?

That line of questioning can be developed further

  • What was your relationship like before conflict arrived on the scene?
  • How did you imagine your career progressing before the illness?
  • Can you think of a time when the illness didn’t have stop you from doing something?

and further still by asking

  • Am I right in thinking that you would rather this conflict was not ongoing, that you would like to see an end to it?
  • If so, what other ways might you react when conflict appears? What might you do differently?

and so on.

As the dialogue is developed, conflict, or illness, is first recognised as having an impact on our lives and behaviour.  We then go further and look at how we can explicitly recognise the grasp that it has upon us and how we can start to loosen its grip. 

In the words of Winslade and Monk, authors of Narrative Mediation, we then allow room for alternative, newly created and more helpful narratives, or stories to be constructed by ourselves and retold to others. 

In the words of Jillayn Hey herself “Through telling our personal stories of illness and disease, we assist in creating a new story of wellness that facilitates healing and in turn directs a person towards recovery.”  Note how Jillayn explicitly speaks of her new wellness.  In doing so she brings her new symptoms of being well to the foreground.  If she had not done so, then the grasp, or the narrative, that her former condition had on her own expectations of what it is to live day to day might have continued and therefore limited her activities and perceptions.

What are your thoughts?

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.

Managing Conflict in Occupational Therapy

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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.