#OTalk research chat – 6th July 2021 – “The Dream Team: what makes an excellent research team?”

This #OTalk research chat will be hosted by @REfLECTS_Study and @AlisonA13414330, with @preston_jenny on the #OTalk account.

Twitter handles for the Dream Team: 

@REfLECTS_Study, @YvonneCodd, @StapletonTadhg, @bevaturtle, @PatriciaMac16, @LoureneAbbi, @Feemo15, @AlisonA13414330

Twitter handles for the even Dreamier Team:

@CamilaQuel, @geo_fish93, @dr_epower, @traboccant

Recently, we had the absolute privilege of hosting a one-week, virtual, stroke bootcamp event for Allied Health Professionals from all over the UK and Ireland. The concept for the bootcamp arose from the preparatory training activities we had undertaken in preparation for delivery of our randomised controlled trial in mirror box therapy with sub-acute stroke patients – the @REfLECTS_Study.  We had benefitted from this training and were of the opinion that a similar intensive and immersive training programme would benefit other therapists working in the area of stroke rehabilitation.

Whilst we received many very positive comments throughout the week about the content of the bootcamp, we were not really prepared for the exceedingly complimentary comments about our @REfLECTS_Study team, including being labelled a ‘dream team’.  

This has led to much reflection about what makes a ‘dream team’ and whether we are deserving of that title? 

Our large team of 18 members comprises clinical and healthcare support staff, academics, researchers, technical and business support staff. The team began to develop 10 years ago and have been working together since then; firstly on a small scale pilot study and subsequently growing into a multi-centre, cross jurisdictional, RCT study team.  

We know our team ‘works’ but we hadn’t really stopped to considered why it works so well. 

When we carried out some debriefs after the event, the unanimous comment from all of the team members we spoke to was that the feeling of belonging to part of the team was considered important but that the support and encouragement team members had given each other during the week was truly valued. This included pushing each other out of comfort zones and challenging each other to embrace new activities.   This was commonplace as we were in a wholly new environment – delivering training in a TV studio and presenting live to camera. During the week of the bootcamp the team cohesiveness was evident with each individual drawing upon their own unique set of knowledge and skills to perform to the highest level. This cohesiveness was somehow transmitted across the virtual environment to the trainees at the other end side of the virtual screen. 

However, we also noted in our debriefing session that another team we were working with during the bootcamp gave us a tantalising glimpse into a further level of collegiality with respect to supporting individual research learning and performance. In fact, we began to somewhat jealously wish that we belonged to that team!  The team from @UTSPhysio, led by Dr David Kennedy (@traboccant) were conducting a series of focus groups on unilateral neglect during the week. As local collaborators, one of our team members joined each focus group session. We noted that at the end of each group, the team members actively sought feedback on their individual performance from the other team members in an attempt to develop their own skills, no matter how junior or senior their perceived position in the team.  In response, the other team members would gently suggest changes in approach or enhancements to individual performance which were all warmly and eagerly received. 

At risk of losing some of my own team members to Australia, as lead of the @REfLECTS_Study group, it has propelled me into reflecting upon what makes a (clinically focused) research team excellent? 

Questions to debate during the OTalk hour:

  1. What are your experiences of working within (or alongside) a clinical research team? 
  2. What factors do you think facilitate clinical research team cohesion? 
  3. What barriers can be encountered by working within a clinical research team and how can they be overcome? 
  4. What actions do you think the team leader can take to support each team member enhance their own performance within the team? 
  5. What actions can the individual team member take to develop their team performance? 
  6. Thinking of a (clinical or research) team that you have been part of, what one aspect do you feel was the key to overall team excellence? 


The Numbers

1.852M Impressions

219 Tweets

30 Participants

9 Avg Tweets/Hour

7 Avg Tweets/Participant 


#OTalk 29th June 2021 – Working with older people through Covid-19

This OTalk is hosted by RCOT Specialist Section for Older People (@RCOT_OP).

The global pandemic caused by the Covid-19 virus has had huge direct and indirect impacts on the ageing population. In some settings Occupational Therapists have been experiencing the direct impact of people having the disease, and in others the indirect impacts of social isolation, reduced community services and the lock down restrictions. 

The RCOT Specialist Section for Older People want to start discussions about the impact the pandemic has had on Occupational Therapists working with older people, and the people they are working with. The questions and discussion for the OTalk have been informed by emerging themes from a piece of work looking into the impact of Covid-19 on hospitalised older people through follow up. These include changes in the Clinical Frailty Scores from pre-admission to discharge and follow up, significant changes in function, and added pressure on the health and social care systems through additional packages of care, equipment needs and ongoing professional input required. 

The questions to facilitate discussion on the night will include: 

  1. Are Occupational Therapists using a Clinical Frailty Score in screening and initial assessments of people presenting with Covid-19? 
  2. Did people see a change in frailty score as a result of Covid-19?
  3. What are peoples experiences of seeing a change in functional level in older people as a result of Covid-19?
  4. How did Covid-19 impact discharge planning, decisions and destinations from hospital? immediate and long term.


The Numbers

1.014M Impressions

253 Tweets

49 Participants

11 Avg Tweets/Hour

5 Avg Tweets/Participant 


#OTalk – 22nd June 2021 – Using podcasts for CPD

This weeks talk is hosted by @Ruth_Hawley and @OT_KateT who jointly run @OTPodcastClub.

With recent growths in the production and availability of podcasts relevant to occupational therapy across health and social care settings, podcasts are a valuable resource to support students’ and practitioners’ learning and CPD.  Podcasts provide a flexible, accessible way for learning to take place (Nielsen et al, 2018).  Research suggest that podcasts support active, social, and creative aspects of learning and strengthen reflection (Palenque, 2015) with sound as a powerful way to absorb information (Plomp, 2021). 

Yet many individuals across the Occupational Therapy community are either not aware or do not regularly engage with podcasts in this way to support their learning and CPD.  For those who do use podcasts this is often done in an individual context with limited opportunity to discuss their learning or consider its application to their practice with other Occupational Therapists.

OT podcast club was started in June 2020 with the aim of encouraging regular listening to podcasts on relevant topics and to create an opportunity to discuss the content with others.  Connecting through word of mouth and twitter (@OTPodcastClub) this group of friendly and enthusiastic OTs meet online every three weeks to review and discuss a chosen podcast.  Following the meeting an edited version of this discussion is subsequently released as a podcast.  Over the past year the group has met 17 times, discussing 16 podcasts across a wide range of topics.  Topics have included online technology use within OT, imposter syndrome, attachment styles, gender identity, race, occupational balance, the darkside of occupation, sex and intimacy within OT and more.  To see full details of podcasts the group has listened to, recommended and the wide range of podcasts available please visit and contribute to this spreadsheet. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1mUTjQEraP5PhS3HbN_QUOg8MFl9rtwIAbYOdPj2USGw/edit#gid=0 

To listen to highlights of OT podcast club discussions, find our podcast on most podcast platforms, or access it here.


Q’s :

  1. Do you listen to podcasts for leisure or professional reasons? Have you ever considered listening to a podcast for your professional learning or ongoing CPD?
  2. Do you have any recommendations of podcasts that you thought were useful and if so, what topics do they cover?  If not, what would like to see a podcast covering?
  3. How do podcasts fit into your life? Where, when and how do you listen and does this affect what you gain from them?
  4. How do you/could you apply your learning from podcast listening?  Do you have any examples of something you have learnt and applied from a podcast?
  5. What would help you to make more use of podcasts to support your CPD?


Nielsen, S.N., Andersen, R.H. and Dau, S., 2018, October. Podcast as a learning media in higher education. In European Conference on E-learning (pp. 424-430). Academic Conferences International Limited.

Palenque, S. M., 2015. THE POWER OF PODCASTING: PERSPECTIVES ON PEDAGOGY. Journal of Instructional Research, pp. 4-7 .

Plomp, C. (2021) Podcasts, an essential part of our educational approach?  Available at: https://media-and-learning.eu/type/featured-articles/podcasts-an-essential-part-of-our-educational-approach/  (Accessed 27th May 2021)

Post Chat

The Numbers

1.111M Impressions
436 Tweets
81 Participants
7 Avg Tweets/Hour
5 Avg Tweets/Participant


#OTalk – 15th June 2021 – Sensory Approaches: OT in Prisons

This week’s chat is hosted by Charlotte French (@charfrenchOT) and Charlotte Wise (@charlee_w).

Charlee works as an Occupational Therapist in a prison secondary mental health team in Shropshire. My main role has been supporting individuals with symptom management and decreasing distress by encouraging them to utilise sensory strategies alongside a Compassion Focused Therapy model.

Charlotte works as a Specialist Occupational Therapist in a specialist mental health unit, within the North East of England’s remand prison which supports those with acute mental illness whilst in custody. Charlotte provides occupational assessment and interventions to improve ability to participate and perform necessary and meaningful occupations.

Currently, we complete elements of sensory assessment and interventions, as part of our overall occupational therapy provision. This aims to improve occupational skills, abilities and routines by identifying and regulating emotions and behaviours using a sensory approach. So far we have utilised tools such Adult/Adolescent Sensory History, as well as; sensory choices checklist, sensory spiders and sensory ladders, which we have learnt during additional training (ASI Wise Mental Health and Wellbeing).

We are keen to facilitate an OTalk chat to find out about how others are using sensory strategies to support individuals they are working with in similar environments, or across various services.

What is Sensory Integration?

“The neurological process that organises sensation from one’s own body and from the environment and makes it possible to use the body effectively with the environment” (Ayres, 1979)

The prison environment or similar restricted environments e.g. PICU and segregation, can be difficult spaces for individuals to live in and has been evidenced to have a significant impact on sensory processing. By example, individuals spend large amounts of time in their cells with minimal possessions, you have a metal bed frame, thin mattress, small sink and toilet, the room has a window but has a limited amount of light and little/no fresh air.  How would this affect your sensory processing?


1. What is your understanding of sensory assessment and interventions for those who have mental health needs, through the lifespan?

2. What could the impact be of a restrictive environment (e.g. PICU, seclusion, prison) on sensory processing and occupational participation?

3. For those with mental health needs residing in a restrictive environment, what benefit could sensory assessment and interventions have as part of occupational therapy provision?

4. There are physical and cultural environmental limitations within a restrictive environment, how could these be overcome to deliver occupational therapy using a sensory approach?

5. Currently, research into sensory approaches for those with mental health needs in prison is evolving. How could we ensure our practice is consistent with current evidence and streamlined across varying geographical areas and services?

Ayres, J (1979) Sensory Integration and the Child. Western Psychological Services.

Useful websites
Sensory Integration Network https://www.sensoryintegration.org.uk/What-is-SI

ASI Wise – https://sensoryproject.org/

Useful links
OT & Chill Podcast with Gisele Craswell – Prison and Sensory Approaches


Post Chat

The Numbers

1.256M Impressions
272 Tweets
44 Participants
7 Avg Tweets/Hour
6 Avg Tweets/Participant


#OTalk – 8th June 2021 – Occupational Identity

This week’s chat will be hosted by Sarah Fletcher-Shaw @SarahjoOT and Vikki Barry @VikkiBarryOT. Vikki and Sarah both work as Occupational Therapy Lecturers at The University of Huddersfield and have a special interest in occupational identity. Vikki is currently completing her PhD around the occupational identities of people seeking asylum and Sarah is completing her PhD around the occupational identity transitions of new mothers. 

Why should we discuss identity and occupational identity? Identity is seen as a dynamic, developmental process, which shapes and is shaped by community participation and membership (Turner and Tobbell, 2017). Are we, as Occupational Therapists, central to our own exposition, understanding and ultimate knowledge about occupational identity? As occupational therapists we believe that every occupation has physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual dimensions whereby individuals enact occupation within their culture and lifestyle which helps sustain a meaningful occupational identity (Hasselkus, 2011). Despite identity being central and a core belief of our profession it remains an evolving construct within occupational therapy literature and practice. So, what makes occupational identity not just identity? A variety of theoretical perspectives about identity exist and these influence individual perspectives, however Cunningham (2017) argues that taking solely individualistic view of identity is limiting, discussing how inclusively drawing on various identity theory work is important, particularly as occupation is connected to locations, history, culture, communities and economics.


  1. What does occupational identity mean to you?
  2. What has occupational identity meant to individuals/groups you have worked with?
  3. How does occupational identity impact upon the work you do as an Occupational therapist?
  4. What key differences do you feel there are between the terms identity and occupational identity?
  5. How might we develop our understanding of occupational identity further?


Cunningham, M., (2017) Broadening understandings of occupational identity: Illustrations from a research study on homeless adults. In Sakellariou, D and Pollard, N (Eds) Occupational Therapies without Borders: Integrating justice with practice. Elsevier: Edinburgh. pp.118-125.  

Hasselkus, B.R., (2011). The meaning of everyday occupation. 2nd Ed. New Jersey: SLACK. 

Turner, L., & Tobbell, J., (2017). Learner identity and transition; an ethnographic exploration of undergraduate trajectories. Journal of Further and Higher Education, doi:10.1080/0309877X.2017.1311993 


The Numbers

2.062M Impressions
617 Tweets
75 Participants
13 Avg Tweets/Hour
8 Avg Tweets/Participant