OTalk 29th July 2014 – OT Week Going beyond the display stands…

This weeks #OTalk discussion will be hosted by Vandita Chisholm (@VanditaChisholm) from BAOT/COT with a view to exploring the ways that we as Occupational Therapists can promote our profession. In the UK OT Week is traditionally held in November, however other national association also hold OT Weeks or Months throughout the year. So we hope that the chat will be of interest to the whole community. Please join us to share your thoughts and ideas or make suggestions as to how we can support OT Week. I look forward to chatting with you all.

As usual the chat will start at 20:00 BST. Click link if you are in a different time zone.

Thanks to Vandiata for the following introduction to aid our thinking:

OT Week: Going beyond the display stands…

I am always amazed at the innovation and bravery displayed to celebrate OT Week. I have heard of members’ abseiling, running an open cinema evening, wheelchair races to name just a few.

One of the most popular activities during OT week is setting up a display stand. Display stands are found in the workplace foyer; local shopping malls and supermarkets; local community centres such as libraries and church halls.  This very visible presence attracts the attention of the general public, colleagues and senior management. It is gratifying to see the College’s materials being displayed and hearing how members of the public are drawn onto the stands to find out more about occupational therapy.

But as you can see from the blog title, I want to challenge members to go beyond the display stands, and think of different ways they can promote the profession during OT Week.  As 2015 is an election year, OT Week can be a perfect time to practise how you can promote the profession, particularly when political representatives will be so much more accessible next year.  I am asking  you to  use OT Week to develop and fine tune your  strategic influencing skills.  Practise articulating the benefits of occupational therapy and start gathering the evidence from your service that demonstrates how occupational therapy is a cost effective and efficient service that really does get results and makes a difference to the lives of service users. During OT Week, invite your chief executive to a team meetings, encourage local councillors to visit your services or even see if you have a human interest story that can be featured in your local media.  

Try and consider how many people you are reaching during your OT week activities, and perhaps engage in some friendly competition with other services you work with to see who has the greatest amount of coverage.

I will be taking part in an OTalk at 20:00 on the 29 July to share and gather your views of OT Week, so we can make sure that OTs are really prepared for pOliTical persuasion during the 2014 OT Week.  To find out what is currently available visit: http://www.cot.co.uk/ot-week/ot-week


Link to the HealthCare Hashtags Transcript.

#OTalk 29 July 2014 – PDF of transcript.


#OTalk 22nd July 2014 – HIV and Occupational Therapy

This week’s #OTalk will be hosted by Esther McDonnell (@RehabHIV), HIV specialist OT with Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and chair of the Rehabilitation in HIV Association (RHIVA). I (Clarissa) attended her facilitated poster session at the College of Occupational Therapists (COT) conference this year, and it was the first time I had heard of OTs working specifically with HIV. I thought it would be an interesting topic for our OTalk community to explore, so I’m very glad that Esther agreed to host this chat. We decided to hold the chat this week to coincide with the AIDS 2014 conference, and as we prepare to host, we are very aware of the tragedy of the Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash (thank you to Kirsty for the link).

As usual, the chat will be held at 8pm BST (click the link to convert to your local time) using the ‘#OTalk’ hashtag on Twitter. If you’re new to tweetchats, check out this guide by our AnzOTalk colleagues.

Click here to read Esther’s pre-chat blog post on Scribd. If you prefer, you can download the document in PDF form here.

Esther has kindly agreed to share her COT 2014 poster with us, and you can view it here.


UPDATE: The transcript for this week’s #OTalk is now available at this link, or you can download it as a PDF. You can also create your own chat transcript

A CPD template is available for documenting your engagement with the chat. 

#OTalk 15th July 2014 – Spirituality

Our guest host for this week’s #OTalk on Spirituality is Michael Flores (@OTAccessStudy). I saw Mick present on this topic at the College of Occupational Therapist’s Conference in Brighton and invited him to use OTalk to share with you guys too. Thankfully he said yes – here’s his introduction and some questions to get you thinking.


“Can I introduce you to Jesus?”

This was the first thing I was asked by a service user at my first placement.

I knew there was going to be a situation where I wouldn’t know how to handle something quite neatly at some point in my student career. The question made me nervous and uncomfortable. I mean, c’mon – how many of you felt a little bit odd when you simply read a sentence with ‘Jesus’ in it?

But to be asked about Jesus, on my first day of my first placement, at my first encounter – what are the chances? I didn’t know quite what to do, but I definitely tried to use my polite Canadianisms to try and deflect. She was neither responsive nor interested in what I had to say.

After my brief encounter with who I’ll call Gertrude, I asked my educator: “Hey – can I ask you a question, can I introduce you to Jesus?” The look on my educator’s face was: is he serious? Is he trying to evangelize to me? Later, she told me at the end of placement she found me odd, but entertaining (whatever, I’ll take it). We laugh about it now. But back then, she was confused, and after I had explained to her my spiritual encounter, I reflected on my first day. Which led me on a literal spiritual journey.

I first asked myself why it was so important to address spirituality. Compelling research has led me to discover that spirituality can be life enhancing and sustaining, and empowering. It was also a coping strategy for people with diagnoses such as schizophrenia and other mental health issues (Huguelet et al., 2006; Jackson & Fulford, 2005; Koenig, 2009; Wilding et al., 2005). Spirituality affect how people think, how they behave and how they care for themselves (Benson, 1996). According to Gilbert (2008), ‘‘recognising a person’s spiritual dimension is one of the most vital aspects of care and recovery in mental health’’ (p. 2).

Results from recovering lives: the strategy for occupational therapy in mental health service 2007-2017 stated that being able to work with families and understanding people’s spirituality were important and that spiritual needs need to be addressed

However, it is a really difficult subject matter for OTs (Wilson, 2010). I had to look deeper at this. I found that there was inadequate education with regards to teaching pertaining to the inclusion of client spirituality in treatment. There was a huge gap between education, theory and practice. There are also unclear guidelines, no set parameters, and there are unclear personal and professional boundaries. I didn’t find anything particularly helpful on the college of OT website.

Csonto (2009) looked at OT students studying OT at several British Universities: findings indicated that spirituality had a range of meanings for different people/students. Perhaps this is the biggest issue with trying to address spirituality is the lack of clarity with trying to define it. Johnston and Mayer (2005) set out in defining spirituality as the following:

“…[spirituality is] the search for meaning and purpose in life, which may or may not be related to a belief in God or some form of higher power. For those with no conception of supernatural belief, spirituality may relate to the notion of a motivating life force, which involves an integration of the dimensions of mind, body and spirit. This personal belief or faith also shapes an individual’s perspective on the world and is expressed in the way that he or she lives life.

Therefore, spirituality is experienced through connectedness to God/a higher being; and /or by one’s relationships with self, others or nature (pp. 386).”

I then asked my cohort what spirituality meant to them and the following responses echoed that of Johnston and Mayer’s definition; whereby a motivating life force, a FIRE deep within, ebb and flow of energy, what makes them tick, faith, what drives me/people to do, are some of the definitions captured.

Spiritual education is important for practitioners and future practitioners as it improves confidence and increases awareness (Barry & Gibbens, 2011). Asking the right questions, without being too confrontational I found the most useful. Questions like:

“What gives you hope?”

‘‘What helps you cope when things are difficult?’’

“How are things going for you, physically, emotionally AND spiritually, since your injury?”

“How do you make sense of the ‘bigger picture’?”

(Smith et al., 2013)

Use of the FICA assessment tool has also been shown to effective with OTs:

F: What is your faith or belief?
Do you consider yourself spiritual or religious?
What things do you believe in that give meaning to your life?

I: Is it important in your life?
What influence does it have on how you take care of yourself?
How have your beliefs influenced in your behavior during this illness?? What role do your beliefs play in regaining your health?

C: Are you part of a spiritual or religious community?

A: How would you like me, your healthcare provider to address these issues in your healthcare?

I went back to Gertrude and I this time I was ready for any questions regarding spirituality, by being prepared, she was ready to reveal many aspects about her life that involved many of her roles and routines where spirituality (in this case, her faith) was at the centre. She revealed to me that every time she would talk about Jesus, she felt pathologized and she was quite happy to find someone to talk to who didn’t look at her like she was mentally ill. This showed me the importance of being properly educated as to how to handle the issue of spirituality.


Some questions to think about:

  1. What does spirituality mean to you personally?
  1. How would you approach the sensitive issue of spirituality?
  1. Do you think that your personal spiritual beliefs influence how you would handle spiritually sensitive issues with service users?
  1. Do you think that the College of OT should outline formal guidelines that should dictate how OTs handle the issue of spirituality?
  1. How do you think OTs would react to specific guidelines set out formally by the College?
  1. Why do you think it’s so difficult for OTs to address spirituality?
  1. How could you positively influence student OTs in handling sensitive issues like spirituality?
  1. Spirituality is outlined in the American OT Practice Framework, are there any other examples of college guideline that may be beneficial that the COT should adopt?



  1. Barry, E. and Gibbens, R. (2011) Spirituality in practice: using personal reflection to prepare occupational therapy students. British Journal of Occupational Therapy 74(4), 176-180.
  2. Csonto, S. (2009) Occupational therapy students’ consideration of clients’ spirituality in practice placement education. The British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 72, 442-449.
  3. Huguelet, P., Mohr, S., Betrisey, C., Borras, L., Gillieron, C., Marie, A. M., and Brandy, P.Y. (2011) A randomized trial of spiritual assessment of outpatients with schizophrenia: Patients’ and clinicians’ experience. Psychiatric Services, 62, 79–86.
  4. Jackson, M., and Fulford, K. W. M. (2005) Spiritual experience and psychopathology. Psyche and Geloof, 16(1), 9-33.
  5. Johnston, D. and Mayers, C. (2005) Spirituality: A review of how occupational therapists acknowledge, assess, and meet spiritual needs. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 68, 386-392.
  6. Koenig, H. G. (2009) Research on religion, spirituality, and mental health: A review. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 54, 283-291.
  7. Wilding, C., May, E., and Muir-Cochrane, E. (2005) Experience of spirituality, mental illness and occupation: A life-sustaining phenomenon. Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, 52, 2-9.
  8. Wilson, L. (2010) Spirituality, occupation and occupational therapy revisited: ongoing consideration of the issues for occupational therapists. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 73(9), 437-440.





#OTalk Journal Club 5th August 2014

The journal club article for 5th August 2014 will be Priebe, S., et al. (2011) Good practice in health care for migrants: views and experiences of care professionals in 16 European countries. BMC Public Health 11:187.   (doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-187)

Check out OTs in London’s blog for a pre-chat blog post, including Rachel’s rationale for choosing the article and some points to consider.


As usual, the journal club will be held on the first Tuesday of the month at 8pm (BST).

Details and download of the Reading Record can be found on the Journal (Media) Club Resources page.




For a transcript of the chat, follow this link (opens in new window) or download the PDF.


The Numbers

381,769 Impressions
260 Tweets
25 Participants


#OTalk Participants

Welcome to OTalk.co.uk #OTalk

Hi #OTalkers

We’ve finally gone and done it – yes we have purchased a custom URL and from now on the blog will point to http://www.otalk.co.uk. The old site is still up at the moment but we will be hiding it shortly so please do share this update with your friends and colleagues so they don’t think we’ve disappeared completely.

Don’t forget to update all of your links and bookmarks and because we have had a little behind the scenes move too you will have to resubscribe to e-mail updates (scroll down and you’ll find this option on the left hand side).

You’ll see we’ve gone with a new design and tidied up the page links – everything is still there though.

Bear with us if there are a few glitches with links over the next couple of weeks and we still have a few pages that we still need to get up-together.

What’s new:

In the left hand column below the page links is a widget that shows you the detail of the next four chats – where known. If you see one of these is empty please don’t hesitate to volunteer to host a topic. You can contact us using our contact form here.

The OTalk Team have a new Team picture or two drawn by the exceptionally talented Gillian – check them out here.

On the resources page we’ve added some guidance on how to create your own tweetchat transcript. I for one know I’m a little slow to produce these sometimes and sometimes you might want to select a slightly different time period, or have the option to edit the transcript to show just your tweets or only the conversations in which you were directly involved. Use this alongside the CPD template Clarissa posted to be ready for your next HCPC audit. A couple of our resource pages are still under construction so do check back in a couple of weeks.

There are also pages for the Journal (Media) Club and one on other OTalk Team Activity – these are still under construction so check back soon.

We’re hoping this change will encourage a few more of you to come and engage with us here on the blog too – we’d love it if you could return to topics to post any useful links found after the chats, link to your blog posts inspired by the chat or the topic or simply to come and tell us if something you discovered at a chat has influenced your practice in any way. Why not start us off by commenting on this post telling us what you think about the revamp.

Happy #OTuesday

Kirsty, Gillian, Clarissa and Helen