#BlogSquad2018, OTalk

RCOT 2018 Blog 4. Network Meeting: The Elizabeth Casson Trust: Professional Leadership Programme – what’s next?

This inspiring fringe event hosted by Sally Townsend and Cat Evans, Trustees at the Elizabeth Casson Trust, focused on the Trust’s commitment to support the development of leadership capacity within occupational therapy through awards available as part of its Leadership Project.

The Elizabeth Casson Trust aims to ‘advance the occupational therapy profession by supporting the development of occupational therapists’ primarily through its funding opportunities. One of the Trust’s three strategic intentions is to ‘help develop leaders in occupational therapy with the capability of taking the profession forwards within the context it needs to operate’.

The Leadership Project, launched in February 2018, enables occupational therapists to apply for up to £10,000 to develop their leadership skills. When applying for the award applicants are required to describe how they will lead and deliver on a project that addresses leadership challenges, and how they plan to develop leadership skills to achieve the required changes.

Sally talked compellingly about research undertaken by Caroline Waters (HR consultant) which informed the development of the Leadership Project. She identified that the overwhelming theme from the research was that occupational therapists lack confidence in their leadership abilities. She went on to highlight that the Trust’s Leadership Programme launched in February 2018 aims to redress skill deficits by providing opportunities to enable all occupational therapy staff, from support assistants to senior management, to develop the requisite behaviours and skills to perform as leaders.

Sally explained that the Elizabeth Casson Trust is collaborating closely with the Royal College of Occupational Therapists to develop occupational therapy leaders so that each organisation can complement the other with the support that it offers to therapists.

Karin Ormin RCOT Lead Professional Advisor attended the session. She highlighted the RCOT vision for ‘all members to recognise themselves as leaders and act as leaders, sharing a vision of occupational therapy and its value within their service’. She highlighted that traditionally occupational therapists have excelled in enabling others and consequently ‘follow behind’ the enabled person rather than perform as leaders.

She went on to urge occupational therapists to raise their heads above the parapet and be proud and vocal about their leadership attributes. Together Sally and Karin concurred that a cultural shift is gathering momentum within the profession as occupational therapists are being challenged to individually and collectively recognise themselves as leaders in order to move the profession forward.

I was motivated to attend this session as I am passionate about developing research leadership and research capacity within occupational therapy and I’m seeking out opportunities to achieve this aim. I recently completed an HEE/NIHR Internship award and am co-presenting at Belfast this year about the clinical academic pathway as an approach to increasing research leadership in occupational therapy. This slide has particular resonance to me as it reflects many of the qualities I must foster within my plans to become established as a clinical academic.  If we are to succeed as leaders we must develop essential skills such as confidence, resilience and tenacity.


If you are interested in the opportunities offered by the Leadership Project and wish to apply you will need to attend the next Leadership Project Event held by the Trust on 3rdOctober 2018 in preparation for developing your proposal for submission by 2ndJanuary 2019.  Feedback regarding the success of your bid is given by the end of February 2019 and you will be ready to commence your project in March 2019.

For those seeking to apply Sally stressed the importance of giving consideration to the impact of your project and to consider how your proposal aligns with and could influence your organisational strategic aims. Sally went to advocate that occupational therapists seize opportunities to network with key decision makers and be proactive in creating opportunities to promote the occupational therapy profession. For occupational therapists intent on building their skills as leaders this is an invaluable opportunity to secure funding to evolve as a leader. What’s to stop you from applying?

More information about the Leadership Project and opportunities offered by the Elizabeth Casson Trust can be found at https://elizabethcasson.org.uk/

Written by Faye Dunford @FayeDunford


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