Sunday 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.
The 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.
Tuesday 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!
Blog by Catherine Gray (@CGray_OT)