Blog Squad #COT2017 S1- Opening Plenary

There was an atmosphere of excitement as we all entered Hall 1at Birmingham’s ICC for the first session of this year’s RCOT conference #COT2017 and we were not to be disappointed. The first Keynote speaker was Paul McGee who inspired us, challenged us and made us laugh along the way. Paul is the Managing Director of PMA International which aims ‘to help people achieve better results in life and have fun in the process’. He is also known as the SUMO Guy. SUMO stands for ‘Shut up and move on’ and you can follow Paul on twitter @TheSumoGuy and his website is www.thesumoguy.com.

Paul had very engaging slides and used cartoons, some of which can be viewed in this pdf from his website. ‘Faced with a challenge? 7 questions to help you.’ He got the audience engaged from the get go by us making stand and repeat a phase to a partner – we very trustingly did this but then wandered what on earth we had just said as it was in a foreign language. This turned out to be Norwegian for ‘I love you sugar babe’! Paul then told us that the word inspire means ‘to breathe life into’ and that is what he understood occupational therapists aim to do. This set the scene for the conference as ‘inspire’, ‘inspiring’ and ‘inspirational’ all became words I heard and saw tweeted a lot of the course of the conference.

Not satisfied in making us speak Norwegian, Paul then got us to repeat another phrase after him – this time we were asked to repeat to each other that we were utterly and completely Mad! Fortunately, MAD turned out to stand for ‘Making a Difference’. Next, Paul asked us to focus on our attitudes and thoughts and to ‘Mind our mindset.’ He suggested that we need to evaluate the challenges we are dealing with and put them in perspective. We were asked to try evaluating a current challenge on a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 = death.

SUMO evaluate out of 10

Paul recommended that we try to push a few more doors because you only need one to open. This reminded me of Professor Peter Millard, my supervisor when I held a Senior I research post in the Department of Geriatric medicine at St Georges hospital.  Prof Millard taught me this same lesson in 1990 about applying for research funds. The worse you may get back is a ‘no’ but this is worth the risk because of the greater potential benefits that can occur if a door does open. It is the ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’ and ‘you have to be in it to win it mentality’

Paul also warned us against CNN = the barrage constant negative news we are now subjected to and encouraged us to remember the wonder and good in our world. So as we move forward we need to stop being on autopilot, take time to think, reflect and move on with more knowledge. Paul then put up my favourite moto on the screen ‘Carpe Diem’ (for anyone who hasn’t heard of this before it means ‘seize the day’). He reminded us that it doesn’t matter if we fall, but it’s how long you stay down that matters. So the SUMO Guy got us laughing, but also to stop, reflect and put our challenges into perspective. To hold on to our vision as occupational therapists and remember that we do make a difference and being MAD is good!

Our second Plenary Speaker was Dr Winnie Dunn from the University of Kansas, USA @winniedunn. Winnie is an internationally recognized research and expert in the field of sensory processing in everyday life and author of the Sensory profile measures.

As my own PhD related to test development and psychometrics and I am familiar with the sensory profile I was excited to hear her speak. Winnie emphasized that sensory processing is about everyone, not just those considered to be vulnerable or with a diagnosis associated with sensory processing difficulties. Children may process sensory information differently regardless of whether they are neurotypical. She summarised the evidence base from a comprehensive literature review and from data collected using the sensory Profile. I particularly liked how she made one of her points about not labelling clients based on their scores and distribution on the bell curve through using herself as an example.

Winnie Dunn bell curve

During the Opening plenary we also were asked to express our thanks for this year’s conference organising team: Sarah Bodell, Dee Christie, Ken Levins, Jennifer Read, Alicia Ridout and Clare Taylor.

We ended the session with a minutes silence to remember all those who have been affected by the recent Grenfell Tower fire disaster in North Kensington, London. I personally appreciated this quiet time to pray for all those involved and was glad COT included us in the Nation’s minute of silence.

Dr Alison Laver-Fawcett @alisonlaverfaw


#COT2017 S29 – The Elizabeth Casson Memorial Lecture: Life as an occupational being

Delivering the 2017 Casson Memorial Lecture – Before, During & After

Diane has posted a blog about her preparation for delivering this year’s Casson Memorial lecture – the ‘Before Casson Blog’. Alison has written two blogs on her impressions of the Casson both during and after the lecture.

The Before: The title of my Casson Memorial Lecture is “Life as an occupational being”, I approached this blog on the experience of delivering the Casson Memorial Lecture with this title in mind. When I found out I had been nominated and chosen to deliver the Casson I was delighted and terrified!

Over the year of preparation, I read, wrote, rewrote, read, and wrote again – the focus for me became the point of this being a lecture that is published and therefore written as a speech and then published in the British Journal of Occupational Therapy  – I spoke to a number of past Casson lecturers and the advice was write for the day so that’s what I did.

Trying to decide what I wanted to say was the hardest decision as there were so many aspects of my life as an occupational being and our amazing occupational therapy profession I wanted to talk about – but I kept coming back to the importance of evidence and our need to investigate and publish what we do.

Once I had decided what I wanted to say then came the writing – the Casson is delivered as a lecture in its fullest sense. I needed to write a speech that could be delivered in 45 minutes and no more – how many words should it be? – advice I was given is somewhere around 5000 words as “the average person speaks at somewhere between 125 and 150 words per minute. It’s always better to speak more slowly than quickly”.  Others told me to write too much and then cut it down – I’ve delivered many lectures, seminars, workshops over the years in practice and in education I have always tended to do the slides and then talk to the slides – I’d never before being mindful of every word – a new experience – a new occupation – one I am privileged to have experienced.

Diane Cox @dianecox61

During the Casson: 19th June 2017

I had been waiting in anticipation for today to arrive for a long while the day my brilliant colleague Professor Diane Cox delivers the Elizabeth Casson Memorial lecture. I had been given some hints – but what would she say? And how would she say it? It is hard to do a 45 minute lecture that has taken hours of consideration to write justice is a short blog – so here are a few of my highlights:

Diane reminded us of the important legacy that Dr Elizabeth Casson has left us. In her explorations of RCOT’s archive she had found an early publication of Dr Casson’s from 1941 began with the statement ‘Rehabilitation needs serious attention at present’ – and Diane challenged us to address this, as it is still so true today.

A significant portion of her lecture focused on the meaning of occupation for human beings and for occupational therapists and occupational therapy. Occupational and social interactions are essential to a person’s life. Diane shared a couple of quotes from other authors that really resonated with me: “Occupation is as old as humanity” (Reed et al, 2012) and from Brock (1934): “Occupation is not a secondary matter. It is a primary need of an individual’s life”. So we must keep occupation central in our practice and research.

For me, one of Diane’s most reassuring facts is that occupational therapy is the lowest risk job to be taken over by robots. However, we shouldn’t rest on our laurels because Diane told us that a challenge OTs face is that, although we are the profession at least at risk of being taken over by robots because of the highly complex nature of OT interventions, on the surface occupational therapy practice can look so simple. Diane shared one of her own photographs of a swan – it looks serene but all the power is hidden under the surface. So we have to learn to be able to articulate and evidence the complexity of our practice, particularly the parts of occupational therapy that are not easily discerned by others.



Casson - low risk of robots

Her take home messages were very clear and the last one was given to us first in the lecture, as well as at the end: ‘Publish, publish, publish’! It is our responsibility as occupational therapists to provide the evidence base for the impact occupational therapy can make to enable people to be the occupational beings they need, want and are expected to be. Diane challenged every presenter at the COT to write their presentations up and submit for publication and to make a commitment to publish at least once a year. We must tell policy makers what OTs do and provide the evidence of our impact to influence policy direction. We also need to be able to summarise our practice and our research succinctly and know how to encapsulate what we do and why we do it. Like speed dating we need to get good at ‘speed describing’! Diane talked about the three minute thesis – can you do it? Can you define what you do, describe what you do – and could it be replicated? Your occupational therapy work or research summarised in 3 minutes? One way to try to summarise what you do is to organise it using PICO. P = patient, person, problem; I = the intervention; C = comparison intervention when relevant; and O is the outcome of interest. If you aren’t familiar with PICO you can find information here: 

Diane finished by telling us that publishing should be part of our shared occupation and is part of our OT occupational being.

After the Casson: 21st June 2017

If you missed Diane’s Casson lecture or want to reflect on her messages further I’ve been told by BJOT’s editor that the Casson is usually published in the September issue of the British Journal of Occupational Therapy – it will definitely be on my ‘to read’ list. Inspiring was one of the words most frequently used in the comments made directly to Diane after the lecture and by people discussing the lecture as they left the auditorium.  I’ve been following the resulting tweet chatter with interest to get a sense of the impression that this year’s Casson lecture has made on colleagues at conference. In the spirit of evidence based practice I set the question: ‘How have OTs reacted to the 2017 Casson Lecture’? I searched for posts citing @dianecox61 and / or the #COT2017 hash tag for evidence. After appraising the evidence here are my key findings. The message that we all should be publishing was definitely picked up on by the OT Twitterazzi. Several people posted Diane’s final slide on twitter and it is still being retweeted and commented on by others two days later. For example:

@SBtweetsOT tweeted: ‘After challenge yesterday from @dianecox61 to Publish Publish Publish I attended a workshop with BJOT editor-in-chief on just that!’

Whilst @tcookot commented ‘@theRCOT 3 things on my mind the morning after #COT2017: oxygen masks, mental benches and…



publish publish publish - Casson


Miranda Thew @thewmiranda tweeted this afternoon: ‘@theRCOT Let’s see some of those inspirational ideas and research projects published!! As @dianecox61 urged!!’ But Channine Clark @channineclark appears to be the first person to report that Diane’s  challenge has been actioned,  as she posted at 4pm this afternoon:‘Following advice of @dianecox61 and submitted to BJOT this morning a paper highlighting issues of occupational deprivation on hospital wards.’

So whether you are a clinician, manager, educator or researcher – as Jo Webb tweeted today in response to Clare Taylor’s @ClareTaylorBU tweet of ‘one publication a year’

@‘Top of the To do list everyone!’

Alison Laver-Fawcett @alisonlaverfaw


#COT2017 Doing beading and becoming: exploring beadmaking as therapeutic media. Session 44

Thank you to everyone who attended this occupation station session with Dr Susan Burwash (@subu_OT). Special thanks to Clare Taylor (@ClareTaylorBU) for not only ensuring we were all hydrated and fully able to engage in the session, but for tweeting so much of the session so I could just ‘do’.

Session S44
Doing beading and becoming: exploring beadmaking as therapeutic media
Burwash S: Eastern Washington University.

Aim: To discuss and demonstrate how creating a variety of simple, low-cost beads in therapy can contribute to enhanced client self-knowledge, goal identification and to taking hopeful action towards achieving desired outcomes.

Background: The occupation is fabricating beads as a component of jewelry-making. Jewelry-making has been used by occupational therapists since the early days of the profession (Kidder, 1922). However, as contemporary therapists are not often exposed to jewelry-making in their education, and as fewer occupational therapy departments have jewelry-making tools/materials because of cost/space requirements, use of this occupation in therapy may not be as common as it could be. Jewelry-making remains a popular leisure activity, may be associated with cultural practices, and can also be a source of income. An occupation that can be done individually or within a group setting, it can be used to explore self and communicate complex ideas visually. While some beadmaking processes require great skill and specialised tools, there are many beads that can be created using simple techniques and inexpensive materials. This Occupation Station will demonstrate a variety of beads, allow attendees to create one of the beads
demonstrated, and discuss therapeutic purposes to which making beads and jewelry could contribute.

For further information and insights into Dr Burwash’s work I highly recommend you take a look at the following article:

Fortuna, Jennifer (2017) “The Reciprocal Relationship Between Art and Occupational Therapy Practice,” The Open Journal of Occupational Therapy: Vol. 5: Iss. 1, Article 14.
Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.15453/2168-6408.1366 [Accessed 16 June 2017]

Blog Squad Member @Helen_OTUK