Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Going it alone

I have gotten out of the habit of posting blogs (which I might blame at getting to grips with third year! I won't mention the dreaded 'D' word...)

But I've tried to share some things I  have found interesting in last few months (except I haven't been writing about it - whoops!)

One thing that I have been thinking about recently is the opportunities for OT's to go it alone. With the changes happening to the national health service within the U.K, it's not suprising to see independant practice being a genuine consideration for OT's. This months OTnews is focused on independant practice, and has ' invaluable advice for anyone considering independant practice'.

And they're right - there certianly is some very good advice in there! It was really intersting reading the story of OT Maggie Winchcombe who in 2007 co-founded the 'Years Ahead' partnership alongside Marie Hendry and David Silver. The website explains that the business aims to :
  • ' bring easier living products and services out of the specialist sector (which has been the province of healthcare professionals) and into the mainstream market place. ' 
  • ' advise  organisations on how to develop their proposition in a way that enables consumers to enjoy living longer and living well. '

Maggie talks about that despite not 'treating anyone' in the sense of a therapist, it was her focus on occupation in its purest sense which enabled her to realise that her customers were wanting professional help to deal with changing circumstances. 

From reading Maggie's story, and checking out the website (which is well worth a loo) http://www.yearsahead.co.uk/ got me curious about other independant OT services. So a little search on google led me to a few websites that you might want to look at just to see what is going out there:











and there are many more! I'm quite suprised at how many independant OTs are out there, and it is nice to have more career opportunities available, either as an independant OT or to work for an independant occupational therapy service.

This months OTnews is full of features on independant practice so if it is something you might consider, or might think about in the future make sure you don't throw out the November 2012 issue!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

'Tourette's: Let Me Entertain You"

On the 10th of September, BBC 3 broadcast a show entitled 'Tourette's: Let Me Entertain You". Episode one is only available at the moment, but more will be available soon so keep your eyes peeled!

Before watching, I knew nothing of Tourette syndrome (TS) or how it can affect individuals. On the show, Reggie Yates (Radio 1 DJ) goes on a quest to find individuals who are affected by Tourette's but who also have musical talent. The programme introduces the viewer to Ruth, Steve and Greg who all experience both verbal and physical 'tics'. According to Tourette's Action, tics are involuntary and uncontrollable sounds and movements. Interestingly, Ruth highlights that 90 percent of people with TS do not swear uncontrollably (the technical term is 'coprolalia') which is interesting because I imagine this is what most people would normally associate with Tourette's. I'll admit that I did before watching the programme!

The programme introduces a further three individuals, all of whom are teenagers and also experience Tourette's. Jake, Emily and Tom all experience TS differently. For example, Emily will involuntary collapse and is unable to suppress her ticks. Jake, on the other hand, has the ability to suppress his tics whilst in school, but upon returning home has a very intense period of tics because of the suppression during the school day.

All of the people on the show provide a very honest depiction of how Tourette's has affected their lives and the coping strategies they implement in order to try to control their tics. A recurring theme (I'm pleased to say!) is engaging in meaningful occupations. And as jargon-y and professional that may sound, it's a very strong theme throughout the show. For example Greg, 18, roller skates and explains that when he is wearing his skates, his tics are almost non-existent. As soon as they are removed they act as almost a psychological trigger and his tics come back. He explains how he drums and how this has a similar affect. I found it fascinating to watch on the programme, because to hear him speak and to see him when he is wearing his skates is so very different to when he isn’t wearing them.

Ruth was explaining how TS makes social life difficult. When she is on a bus somewhere and her tics become very noticeable, she finds that strangers on the bus almost group together and in her words, “unite in hostility”. This highlights the ignorance towards this condition and how difficult it can make day-to-day activities. Ruth sings, and when asked by Reggie what she feels from getting a round of applause following a performance, she explains how she feels a sense of affirmation, worth and that she belongs within society. I thought this was a really great way to highlight how important it is to do things in life that are meaningful because they really can benefit your wellbeing.

Anyway, I think it is a really good watch, and there are more episodes coming, so if you have some spare time it is worth a watch!

From an OT perspective, I found a little slideshow which gives a brief explanation of how OTs can work with individuals who experience Tourette's but the link doesn't seem to be working, so I'll try and post it at a later date.

You can watch the programme using this link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01mqvr7/Tourettes_Let_Me_Entertain_You_Episode_1/


Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Sex, Lies and Parkinson's

As I was having a little browse through Channel Four's '4oD', I came across this short documentary about Vicki's experience of Parkinson's disease, and how she feels that the side effects of her medication have impacted on her behaviour and lifestyle choices. Vicki was diagnosed with Parkinson's before her 40th birthday, which makes her one of just 500 people diagnosed with young onset Parkinson's each year according to Parkinson's UK.

Vicki feels that the side effects of medication have had a big impact on her life, but the documentary mentions no other ways to help her manage Parkinson's. I suppose that as an OT to be, I was thinking something along the lines of developing coping strategies so that the individual is empowered to self-manage their condition as effectively as possible. Although I can only imagine the challenge of accepting that you have a long term condition at such a young age must make you want to pretend that this isn't happening and to forget about dealing with things.

Anyway, take a look and see what you think!

Sex, Lies and Parkinson's

Sunday, 24 June 2012

I got a little too excited when I saw this....

Me being the OT geek that I am, can't seem to escape OT, even when I'm on my holidays! Whilst away with some friends in Newquay, outside the restaturant/shop part of the complex, I spotted this beach wheelchair. I'd never seen a wheelchair specifically designed for use on a beach before (you might think, being an OT student that I would have figured out such a wheelchair exists, but I'd never thought about it really!). There was a slight gradient to get down on to the beach, and I thought it was awesome that they had left this out so that passers by could see that the beach is fully accessible.

When I googled 'beach wheelchairs' lots of different types and models came up, and it's quite interesting to see the range of wheelchairs available. The OT in me was loving seeing this, as not only is it enabling individuals to remain engaging in those activities they enjoy most, but it is also sending out a clear message that disability is not a barrier!

Loved seeing this!

Ps Thanks to Will  for getting the snap, would have hated to have missed it!

Thursday, 21 June 2012

'No Won't, No Can't, Only How'

Spencer West, 31, Toronto.  I'd not heard of his name or known anything of him until today when I read that he has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro (which in itself is an incredible achievement). But Spencer West had reached the summit with a special difference. A rare spinal disorder meant that Spencer had had his legs amputated when he was a child. Doctors told him that he "would never do much with his life". This led to Spencer beginning his journey to defy this by becoming a motivational speaker and starting his 'Redefine Impossible' campaign to raise money for Free the Children's sustainable water initiative in Kenya. Spencer West climbed the summit by using his hands alone for an astonishing 80% of the journey. The climb was completed over 7 days and West has raised an incredible $500,000 for the initiative.

When I read the name of the campaign, I couldn't help but keep saying it. It really struck me as a very powerful and emotive title which challenges the attitudes which were expressed regarding West's recovery. The clinical judgements or subjective opinions from health care professionals (based on a generalisation of previous experience relating to prognosis or future outcomes) can be very damaging and distressing for the individual and family. I feel it is really important to challenge these attitudes in the workplace, and as a newly qualified OT I will want to work in a person-centred way, and approach interventions as  possibilities, instead of settling for the easiest, and often risk adverse option. In my experience, interventions can sometimes be held back because a team attitude may deem an intervention 'impossible' without any concrete and transparent justification or evidence. Of course, I recognise there are limitations in practice, and each individual has personal limitations, however I do feel that sometimes in practice, incredible opportunities can be missed because they are not given a proper chance.

On West's blog, he talks about each stage of the journey, and this part I thought I'd leave you with. You can read his blog here : http://www.freethechildren.com/redefinepossible/2012/06/possible-redefined.php

" Things do happen, good and bad, to all of us. But what defines us is not what we look like, the colour of our skin, or how many limbs we have. Not even close. It's who we are inside, and what we choose to do with the time we are fortunate enough to have on earth.

Today I reached the top of the tallest free-standing mountain in Africa by, for the most part, walking on my hands.

What is possible for me has now been redefined. That is my hope for all of us.

You don't have to climb a mountain to redefine your possible. But thank you for climbing this one with me.

How will you redefine your possible?"

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Postcode Lottery

Hello readers! (if I have any....) I have been on holiday for 10 days and so have not had a new post up here for some time; I'll get back on it now that I am home again!

Here's one to get you started: I watched an inspiring story on BBC's 'Week In Week Out' programme. It tells the story of Helen and her battle for her mother to receive NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding. Helen's mother, who had severe dementia, was not considered ill enough to receive this until her final hours of life. Helen is campaigning for carers rights in Wales and is working hard at promoting her cause. Helen's story is available to watch on BBC iPlayer here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01jzq1t/Week_In_Week_Out_Helens_Story/ which is definitely worth a watch. Alternatively you can check out the BBC article here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-18496004

It really made me reflect on the difficulties that health care professionals face when completing assessments which may sometimes affect the eligibility for service-users' care. The director of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) in Wales, Tina Donnelly, explains that the union was concerned about the tick-box style tools nurses had to use to assess eligibility for free care. This concern can be applied across different areas when completing assessments, and Helen's story highlights how entitlement to care can change (depending on who completes the assessment and the location in which the service-user may reside). It's something to consider in practice.

If you would like to show your support for Helen, you can follow her campaign on twitter @dementia_tch

More posts to follow shortly :-)

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Cannabis- Are you aware of the risks?

 A part of an OT's role in some areas of practice is to educate. Taking an educative approach to practice means that both the service-user and the people around them can be enlightened and made aware of how and why a particular condition is effecting their occupational performance, and how other factors in their life may be affecting them also.

As the BBC reported today, new results from a survey on 1000 adults conducted by the British Lung Foundation (BLF) found that a third of respondents wrongly believed that cannabis did not harm health. Of the 1000 adults, 88% incorrectly thought that tobacco cigarettes were more harmful than cannabis, when the risk of lung cancer is actually 20 times higher. The BLF say that the lack of awareness is "alarming". So, do you know your facts about cannabis? Check out the link heeeeeeeeeeeeere to see more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-18283689

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

In 12 months time...

So, the scary fact is that in twelve months time, I and many other OT-to-be's will be job hunting as newly qualified occupational therapists (that is, if I am successful in passing the final year... GULP). It seems that everybody is pretty terrified about the prospects of entering the job market, especially as each time you turn on the television or read the newspaper, you can't escape the public sector cuts and the challenges that the private sector is facing in terms of growth and development. To put it bluntly, it's a pretty scary time for us OTs along with the rest of the UK.

To try and make sense of those fears, last month's May edition of OTnews has provided some very useful articles which are helpful for newly qualified OTs in approaching the current job market.
In particular, the article 'Emerging Markets' by Andrew Mickel highlights that there is a shift away from the traditional NHS rotational posts and towards opportunities in both charity and the private sector. It also identifies that generic roles are increasing due to budget pressures and that some new graduates are taking on work as a lower band OT in order to gain some experience, while still looking for a Band 5 job.

 In the article, Fiona Fraser, who is the College of Occcupational Therapists' education manager for student services, identifies that leadership and entreprenurial skills are becoming ever more essential in OT practice, particularly with the changing working environmental. Despite the changes in the job market, the article confirms that the vast majority of graduates find jobs in statuatory health and social care services, although changes of UK policy suggests that emerging settings may be the place to keep your eyes peeled for jobs.

This month's OTnews also has a feature about making the most of your CPD to create your own success. Zoe Parker looks at how to make the most of the available resources provided by COT and BJOT, particularly for newly qualified OTs. Zoe advises reading this resource for guidance for pre-registration OTs to identify your strongest skills, knowledge and aptitudes in order to decide the areas you want to work on for future learning. The link might only work once you've logged on to the COT website:

Another resource that Zoe recommends checking out is the Post Qualifying Framework (2006), which guides your practice according to best current practice, and assists with the planning of future learning for career development, including routes to development in practice, education, management and research. You can download a hard version, from this link: http://www.cot.co.uk/publication/books-z-listing/post-qualifying

Also, check out the Health Professionals Council website and look under the Education section which is designed for students: http://www.hpc-uk.org/education/

The main message in this month's OTnews is to use the skills we've learnt training to be an OT, but also to be prepared to use these skills in different ways. So, it's time to take the plasic cover off OTnews and see how it can help you! Come on guys... twelve months will soon fly by!

The next blog post won't take as long to come up; no more assignments to write or presentations to do...Yay!

Sian x

P.S.  The article on social media and professionalism is worth a read... it might make you reconsider those frapes and detagging some of those dodgy photos...you never know when your potential future employer may indulge in a little facebook stalking! On that note...

Monday, 21 May 2012

Dementia Awareness Week begins now!

This week is officially national Dementia Awareness Week, and the Alzheimer's Society are a very active charity in promoting awareness, especially on their Facebook page. Their website is a fantastic resource for anybody who wants a better understanding of what dementia is and how it can affect people.  In the UK, there are currently 800,000 people with dementia, and there are an additional 17,000 younger people with dementia in the UK. There are many different types of dementia, and the way in which the dementia affects the individual differs greatly. Check out the link to see the different types of dementia : Types of dementia

Whilst on placement, I had the privilege of meeting a man called Dennis Jubb. Dennis was diagnosed with dementia more than 10 years ago, and has been campaigning relentlessly for other people with the condition in Doncaster ever since. He co-founded the PROP (People Relying on People) group, which is a self-support organisation for people with early onset dementia and their carers. Dennis and his wife Carol were among the five founding members when the group was established in 1999. You can read this article to see more. Dennis has actually  made a DVD about the issues that young people with dementia face, and its content is really powerful. I'm trying to get hold of a few DVDs for the library at York St John, as I feel they would be really beneficial for students to watch, perhaps even as part of the curriculum. Have a read -  Dennis' Story

I've watched some of the videos provided by the Alzheimer's Society and selected a few that I think are worth watching. Their Youtube channel is 'AlzheimersSociety'.

Sue has a diagnosis of early onset dementia. I think it's great that Sue is maintaing her roles as a mother, grandmother (Nanny Noodle!) and a friend. This video highlights in a lovely way that it is important to maintain that friend balance, and to not immediately leap into the 'carer' role as soon as a diagnosis is given.

This next video is about something called 'singing for the brain'. I've not come across it before, but if any students have a dementia related placement, it would be a great opportunity to get involved in such a group.

This clip shows how the staff are providing client-centered care, despite working in a large group. It's very exciting to see the positive feedback the individuals attending the group have given, and also the feedback from their family, friends and carers. A great video!

This video shows how Clarice is still living at home with the support of her family, and still enjoying occupations but in an adapted way.

If you want to get involved in supporting the Alzhemier's Society, there are loads of ways you can help. Whether it's getting involved in their campaigns or becoming a volunteer, your time and effort really will be valued. See the link for more info on how to get involved: Alzheimer's Society - Get Involved

Now, time to crack on with these 5000 words! x

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Mixed feelings?

 On the 'Mind' facebook page, I stumbled across this. Channel 4 are to broadcast a season of prime time programmes designed to challenge perceptions of mental health and discrimination.

Comedians Ruby Wax and Jon Richardson have also made programmes to accompany the '4 Goes Mad' season, which Channel 4 has developed working closely with mental health charities including the Mental Health Foundation and Time to Change.

As someone who commented has said, challenging stigma is really important, but is this the right way to go about it? I reckon it's worth a watch to see how this pans out.
Check out the link to see the article on Radio Times :


The typing makes me sound busy...

Well this is my first ever blog, so I'll try and tell you a little bit about what I'm planning to do on here!

So, as you can see on my info bit, I'm a second year occupational therapy student at York St John University. I love the OT course at York St John, and a great part of that is the very active OT society that we have. The idea behind this blog was initially a place where YSJ OT students could look to find resources and information that they find useful. If you scroll down on the right hand side, you'll see a range of different categories for links. Have a little look through them and see what you find useful! I'm still getting used to how it all works, but my plan is to upload posts on a weekly basis on things that have caught my eye. I'll pop a few posts up after this one to get this started, and then hopefully things will starting to fall into place!

Thanks for reading and supporting the blog :o)

Sian x

P.s. Here is a taster of what it's like to study OT at York St John University!