Thinking OT

Thoughts from Harrison Training and the occupational therapy world

Posts Tagged ‘support

Social Media in Clinics and Hospitals

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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?

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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.

Reablement and Personal Care at Home

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There is an important role for occupational therapists in providing more reablement and rehabilitative services to local authorities, to ensure that clients do not find themselves marooned in hospital wards and longer term residential care.

Gordon Brown stumbled into a political storm last week when he spoke about his Personal Care at Home Bill.  The explanatory notes can be found here.

A key part of this was to provide extend reablement or rehabilitative support …

“…to help with the transition back home after a hospital stay, a residential care stay, or simply a fall or accident…” Source

The immediate political storm revolved around funding and the view held by many that this was cynical political grandstanding.  Regardless of the politics, reablement at home will be appropriate in many situations. 

It has to be unattractive that an admission to hospital for a minor issue results in a client not being discharged just because of a lack of rehabilitative care.  To appease the political wing, this is also likely to be uneconomical.

Some of the immediate criticism of the Personal Care at Home Bill was wide of the mark.  This letter in The Times, for example, states that

“Two, three, or even four hours of care a day does not help someone living with a neurodegenerative disease, who is immobile and has other serious health needs. Only 24/7 care can provide this.”  Source

That is, I believe, an extreme position and therefore a false argument to set up.  It does not disprove a role for reabling work.  It simply states the obvious that it would not be adequate for that particular client.

The feverish political baying that surrounds any health care announcement in the run up to an election should not drown out the substantive debate. 

How can the occupational therapy sector facilitate reablement, for example after a hospital visit, using the skills they already have in rehabilitation, adaptive technology, seating, gait and the like?

Neil Denny

Written by harrisontraining

February 18, 2010 at 11:06 am