#COT2017 My First RCOT Conference Diary:

Diary 1Sunday 18th June 2017 – The Journey

It all began with my journey to Birmingham. Well actually, it started way before that. I expressed my interest in going to the conference last year and I was lucky enough for the department I work in to fund it. From then the reality hit that, as exciting as it was going to be, it was also nerve wracking. I wouldn’t know a single person going. This leads me to provide my first tip to new conference goers: network beforehand! Make connections through twitter, join in tweet chats and get involved. That is how I came to be involved in writing these blogs. So I arrived at Birmingham after a 4 hour bus journey and made my way to the ICC to register early. I met with a welcoming group of #OTalk Occupational Therapists, organised through twitter, and went out for dinner. This helped ease the fear that I would spend the entire two days walking around on my own! A great start to the days to come…

Monday 19th June – Conference Day 1

I am a super organised person so I’d mapped the whole two days out in a pocket sized timetable for myself. The Book of Abstracts created by the conference team as invaluable.  There are a huge range of sessions covering a variety of areas you may not have even considered!  I balanced things that would directly benefit me professionally in my current workplace and things that just sounded fascinating.

Diary 4The opening plenary session was uplifting and inspiring and set the mood for the rest of the conference. Don’t forget to have a look at the #OTalk blog posts that cover a HUGE variety of sessions.

Competition was fierce to get into sessions and it paid to be organised by knowing what I wanted to attend, the timings and where to go – that is certainly my second tip for attending! As a third tip – have a back-up plan in case your first choice session is full when you get there.

My day consisted of:

  • S1: Opening Plenary with Paul McGee (SUMO) and Dr Winnie Dunn (University of Kansas)
  • S12: Facilitated Posters – A set of 4 posters that were presented and then questioned in quick succession.
  • S22: Critical Discourse – Sleep, sleep problems and sleep treatment: future directions for Occupational Therapists (Sophie Faulkner)
  • S29: The Elizabeth Casson Memorial Lecture – Life as an occupational being by Professor Diane Cox.
  • S30A: Occupation Station – a practical session where we made a stop motion animation of a blooming flower.

I also took time to view the posters, the mini A4 versions to take away is a brilliant idea! The day passed surprisingly quickly considering how packed it was. For me it finished with the welcome drinks, for others it went on into the night with the Conference Party – something I’ll definitely go to in the future.

Diary 5Tuesday 20th June – Conference Day 2

Conference started at 8.30am with another jam-packed day of sessions. I gave myself a few breaks today as I was flagging from the sheer amount of information I had taken!  This time wasn’t wasted, I networked with other delegates, visited the stands, signed up to the Mental Health Specialist Section.  I also collected lots of goodies to take back to the Occupational Therapists at work – pens, badges and post-it notes galore!

Today I attended the following session:

  • S54: Brag and Steal – 4 innovative practice examples that Occupational Therapists are proud of and want to share.
  • S65: RCOT Insights – Mental Health – the value of Occupational Therapy (Genevieve Smyth)
  • S70: Occupational Science – Occupational balance: who decides? (Michael Feighton). This was a truly inspirational and brave professional and personal story session.
  • S84: Occupational Science Research – The presentation of two studies, one looking at skilled participation in embroidery and the other at the meaning of creative writing as an occupation.
  • S92: Service Development Research – A pre-post evaluation of an Occupational Therapist led group lifestyle and resilience course for well employees in a public sector workplace (Miranda Thew)
  • S98: Closing Plenary: Dr Jennifer Creek (Occupational Therapy Researcher and Author) and Tina Coldham (Mental Health Campaigner)

The closing plenary was just as uplifting at the opening one and I left with mountains of information to share with the many amazing Occupational Therapists I work alongside.  Here’s hoping I can attend next years conference in Belfast!

Diary 3Blog by Catherine Gray (@CGray_OT)



#COT2017 Your index guide to the blog posts

As you will know by now the blog squad had a very busy time writing about their conference experience. Many of the posts were published during conference and a few after and we know there are a lot.

To make it easier to find your way around here is a quick reference with links to the relevant posts.

General Posts

Introducing the blog squad

Sheffield occupational therapists prepare for conference

Be brave: 5 tips for networking as a student

My first RCOT conference


S1 Opening Plenary

S5 Unlocking Potential: occupational case formulation in a prison setting.

S7 RCOT Insights. Work, health and disability – occupational therapists as health and work champions

S10 Children and Families (research and practice development)

S11Keynote address RCOTSS Older People. Enabling a healthy and active older age

S12. Facilitated Poster Session

S25 Transforming healthcare for homeless people: the value of occupational therapy

S28 Older People Research. Lived experience of engagement in occupations by older people during the first year of widowhood & Social groups – exploring occupational engagement in older me.

S29 Elizabeth Casson Memorial Lecture. 

S30 Occupation Station. Hooked on Crochet

S30A Occupation Station. STARTwork: an art-based intervention to support people experiencing mental ill health move towards employment

S31 Combined Facilitated posters  (the occupation of cycling: an intervention for patients in rehab & recovery & promoting cycling and walking in the psychiatric rehab setting) and seminar (the value of cycling as a meaningful occupation)

S35 RCOT Insights. Media relations for occupational therapists

S38 Spirituality embedded into acute adult health occupational therapy

S39 Arthritis: products and life hack

S44 Doing beading and becoming: exploring beadmaking as therapeutic media.

S45 Facilitated Posters

S57 Don’t find fault, find a remedy. Building professional leadership in occupational therapy

S68 RCOT Debate. This house believes that diverse roles are a vital tool in the future of our profession.

S72 RCOT insights. Working in prisons – how occupational therapy can have the biggest impact.

S74 The value and meaning of a drop-in centre for asylum seekers and refugees.

S75(1) Brag and Steal. Perceptorship for newly qualified practitioners & Occupational therapists’ research engagement: enablers and challenges.

S75 (2) Interactive Journal Club

S84 Occupational Science. Exploratory study of skilled participation in embroidering & Exploring the meaning of creative writing as a meaningful occupation

S97 RCOTSS Older People Keynote: You don’t stop dancing because you grow old, you grow old because you stop dancing. 

S90 Neurology

S92.2 Pre-post evaluation of an occupational therapist led group lifestyle and resilience course for well employees in a public sector workplace.

S98 Closing Plenary


P26.Clicking your way through continuing professional development

P33 Leadership from the ashes: influencing change and promoting occupational therapy

P54 Bridging the gap between inpatient and community within a forensic learning disability service.

P56 Creating community connections: using photography, green spaces and a hot cup of tea to improve volition and bridge the gap between the low-secure unit and the community.

P60 The changing face of Birmingham City Council’s adult occupational therapy service

P81 Participation in advanced age: enacting values, an adaptive process.


#COT2017. S92.2 Service Development: Research: A pre-post evaluation of an Occupational Therapist led group lifestyle and resilience course for well employees in a public sector workplace

As an Occupational Therapist working in the NHS I have seen many staff become burnt out or trying to attend work and “soldier on” when really they should be anywhere but at work.  I’ve observed lots of things put on offer by the NHS for managing staff sickness for example counselling sessions, supervision, occupational health etc. However it’s always struck me that not a lot has been done to prevent workers getting to this point and the literature in Occupational Therapy involvement is scarce.  When I saw this talk in the programme I knew I had to attend.

Miranda described in her talk how many companies offered tele-care for their staff, this was seen as a tick box measure to say that staff were offered support. This is neither effective or personal.  It also does not address the issue of presenteeism – attending work when a person’s mind is not on the job and really should be on sick leave. Presenteeism leads to a decrease in productivity and becoming a burden for the team – ultimately leading to dysfunctional unhealthy teams.  Companies however are very focussed on absence rates. Miranda discussed that once presenteeism was described to employers she received comments such as “ah yes I have 6 of those”. They could see that something else had to be done.  This concept also had to be sold to companies using their own language – using words such as resilience resonates with companies who will commission services.

The course consists of a closed group with 6 sessions that were 2 hours long and which took place every other week. The key was that it was in the workplace, people wanting to attend snowballed from the first group through word of mouth.  Feedback was that the attendees didn’t like the venue – it was in work! However other colleagues could hear and see laughter from the group sessions and were curious. Soon there was the creation of a culture to talk about balance and resilience in the office. Outstandingly there was virtually no drop out – the ones who did drop out said it was due to sessions clashing with meetings rather than choice – so therefore wasn’t a true drop out.  Miranda completed measures of participants before and after to determine whether the group was having the desired effect.

Groups consisted of sessions covering sleep hygiene, self-esteem/respect, lifestyle diaries (which were colour coded) and stealthy exercise.  Miranda stated that stealthy exercise is essential forf the sedentary office based worker – plus “why preach about having all your fruit and veg and 40 minutes of exercise every other day when I don’t even do this myself!?”

The results from the pre and post measures demonstrated significant changes in depression, anxiety and presenteeism scores. On top of this morale in the office was on the increase. Staff sickness absence, although already low as these were well members of staff, also dropped.  Feedback from the group was resoundingly positive with every session being rated as invaluable

The difference between running this type of group in an office environment rather that offering a call centre is that Occupational Therapists can offer adaption to people’s need rather than a one size fits all.

A paper collaboration with Professor Diane Cox is currently in process and will be submitted to the BMJ. After all, our conference take home message had to be “Publish! Publish! Publish! Good luck and I look forward to reading it in print!

For more information on Miranda Thew’s work:

Follow her on Twitter: @ThewMiranda

View her Healthy Living – Breathing Techniques video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3QXDpSCr3o

Or read her book: Thew, M. and Mckenna, J. (2008) Lifestyle Management in Health and Social Care. Chichester: Blackwell.

Blog post by: Catherine Gray (@CGray_OT)

#COT2017, OTalk Student Digital Leader Intern

#COT2017 Clicking your way through continuing professional development? Poster 26

My final offering from the #COT2017 Poster Zone…

Poster 26: Clicking your way through continuing professional development? Attitudes to social media use as a platform for continuing professional development (CPD) within occupational therapy.

Murray K: NHS Lothian, Ward K: University of Cumbria

This post and poster has a special place in my heart.  Not least because if focuses on a topic which I am passionate about, but was written and produced by #OTalk’s very first OTalk Student Digital Leader, Kelly Murray AKA @OTontheTracks. So very well done Kelly, I am proud and honoured to work alongside you as a super #OTalk Team member and to be able to call you a friend and all round superstar!

KellyTo download your own copy of this poster visit Kelly’s Blog here.

From the authors:

Introduction: This poster presents a study which explored the use of social media within the continuing professional development of occupational therapy students and practitioners. Perceived barriers and the influence of generation theory on the use of social media were also considered. Increasingly, social media platforms are being embraced by healthcare professionals within financially challenging climates and occupational therapists working within non-traditional settings as a cost effective mode of networking and supporting their CPD (Lawson and Cowling, 2014).

Previous literature is limited and focuses on small-scale qualitative data (Bodell and Hook, 2014) and personal experience of using specific social media platforms (Bodell
et al., 2009; Ezzamel, 2013; BJOT and #OTalk, 2016). More research with a larger sample group was therefore considered appropriate.

Method: A mixed method survey design gathered qualitative and quantitative data through an online questionnaire. Content analysis was used to code and identify themes. Descriptive statistics were used to quantify the findings and consider variations across generations.

Findings: Results highlighted a predominantly positive attitude to social media use within CPD. Accessibility, networking, learning and development were highlighted as advantages to its use. Time and individuals’ skills and knowledge were highlighted as barriers to utilising the platforms. The results suggest that age does not impact on willingness to use social media within CPD but does impact on perceived knowledge and skills to utilise the platforms confidently.

Conclusion: The study highlighted a need for more structured training on professional social media use at both pre and post registration levels.

BJOT. #OTalk. (2016). Social media: Creating communities of research and practice. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 79(4), 195–196. Sage Publishing. doi:10.1177/0308022616631551 (accessed 02 January 2017).

Bodell. S. Hook A, Penman M, Wade W. (2009). Creating a learning community in today: how blogging can facilitate continuing professional development and international learning.British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 72(6), 279–281. Sage Publishing. doi: 10.1177/030802260907200611 (accessed 02 January 2017).

Bodell. S. Hook A. (2014). Developing online professional networks for undergraduate occupational therapy students: an evaluation of an extracurricular facilitated blended learning package. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 77(6), 320–323. Sage Publishing. Doi: 10.4276/030802214X14018723 138156 (accessed 02 January 2017).

Ezzamel. S. (2013). Blogging in occupational therapy: knowledge sharing, professional development, and ethical dilemmas. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 76(11), 515–517. Sage Publishing. doi: 10.4276/030802213X13833255804711 (accessed 02 January 2017).

Lawson. C. Cowling C. (2014). Social media: The next frontier for professional development in radiography. Radiography, 21(2), 74–80. Elsevier. Doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.radi.2014.11.006 (accessed 02 January 2017).

Post by @Helen_OTUK


#COT2017 The changing face of Birmingham City Council’s adult occupational therapy service. Poster 60

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Poster P60
The changing face of Birmingham City Council’s adult occupational therapy service: Innovatively rethinking fundamental designs to occupational therapy delivery to meet customers’ needs, promote well-being and improve overall efficiency

Sabouri A, Vincent C: Birmingham City Council

Contact Email Address: 1stResponseOccupationalTherapy@birmingham.gov.uk, carolyn.

Blog Shot by @Helen_OTUK