With just under two weeks to go until the Royal College of Occupational Therapists Annual Conference, 2017, South Yorkshire based occupational therapists gathered together to prepare for the main event. Occupational therapists from Sheffield and the surrounding areas have been making their mark on Conference for a few years and are presenting their work there in ever increasing numbers.
However, not everyone gets to go, so in 2016 Laura Evans, Head of Occupational Therapy, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust came up with the idea of a multipurpose practice event. Occupational therapists nervous about presenting (isn’t everyone?!) preview their draft presentations in front of colleagues, testing out their ideas before deciding on the final formats which get their first public view at conference.
This means there’s no chance to leave writing entire presentations until the night before (as if we would?!), presenters gain valuable feedback in time to make those final improvements and those who can’t get to conference get a taster of the real thing.
Since then, Sheffield Occupational Therapy Clinical Academics has been established. It is an open and friendly network of occupational therapists aiming to improve outcomes and experiences for service users of a diverse range of occupational therapy services in and around Sheffield. This year three occupational therapists previewed their paper presentations at a meeting of SOTCA, all still in draft form as somehow none of us had quite got round to finishing them in time! Then two occupational therapists previewed their posters, one of which was still at the printers!
Our Presenters for COT2017:
- Becky Field (@beckyfieldsheff) “Identifying influences on take up of a community occupational therapy intervention for people with dementia and family carers”
- Helen Brown (@HelenBrown09) “Short Stay Project: critical evaluation of service user perspectives”
- Laura Di Bona (@SheffOTCA) “Occupational therapists’ research engagement: enablers and challenges”
- Nat Jones (@natlouj) “Collaboration Aiming to build OT research and improve patient care.”
- Amber Wild “Embedding the Use of Smart Tablet Technology in Discharge Planning”
The presenters found it invaluable to see how their timings and slides worked (or didn’t!), to practice answering those unpredicted questions and most importantly to build their confidence by realising they know their topic well and aren’t going to forget what to say (well not the important bits, anyway!). The audience kindly completed feedback forms, reassuring presenters about the bits that had gone well and giving clear direction about how to improve their slides, content and delivery. Practicing in front of friends increased the confidence of all the presenters and they went away knowing exactly which bits to tweak before they get to conference to present the final versions. Hopefully having practiced and received feedback they will now all present more confidently, maybe even with a smile!
It was also great for us all to meet and exchange phone numbers, so now no-one feels they are going to conference alone.
For the audience, it was an opportunity to learn about research going on locally, develop connections across organisations and realise that maybe presenting at RCOT Conference wouldn’t be so scary after all.
By Laura Di Bona