#OTalk 14 July 2020 – Exploring the impact of COVID-19 on occupational therapy practice.

This weeks #OTalk is being hosted by Katy Williams (@Katy_WilliamsOT) and Paul Wilkinson (@PaulWilkinson94) both of whom are part of the Year One: Thriving Not Surviving project team. Katy is newly qualified, currently working at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital on a rotational post. Paul is also newly qualified, working at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust on a rotational post. We are both extremely interested in exploring the changes to practice which have occurred during the Covid-19 pandemic and their impact upon the profession moving forward. 

Unprecedented, unchartered, the new normal, phrases that have shot into common parlance over the last few months, along with key worker, frontline and hero. Behind every use of these words lies a personal story. Triumph in the face of adversity, tragedy, a story of renewal and even, at times, moments of laughter. Personal accounts of living and working through a unique moment in global history. A time we will undoubtedly start to mark as pre and post COVID. 

The media has been full of stories of the heroism of people working on the front line. The country has come together to support our courage, bravery and self-sacrifice. However, this generic narrative is challenged by many of the personal stories that are starting to emerge from those working in health and social care. 

Some occupational therapists have indeed experienced working ‘on the front line’ in life and death situations either in their role as occupational therapists or in roles to which they have been deployed.  Across the profession as a whole however, the experiences are more varied. 

None of us could have envisioned that one of the challenges of our career paths would be playing a role in a worldwide pandemic. Covid-19 has influenced services, procedures and the way we practice. Some of us have been continuing in our usual roles experiencing a reduced case load whilst others have started new jobs or rotated into new specialties. Those in managerial positions have been challenged by a level of logistics they may never have faced before and those leading our profession have been required to lead through completely uncharted territory. The majority of us have been required to adjust considerably our mode of practice. 

Whilst responding to the daily situation we continue to find ourselves in, it is easy to lose sight of the path travelled on a personal level. Due to the service focused values of health professionals the focus tends to be outwards with less attention being paid to self-care and personal wellbeing. Add to this the backdrop of responding to the impact of the pandemic on home life and taking time to reflect, make sense, heal and recharge, for many, has been at a premium.

We started working on the Year 1 Thriving Not Surviving project at the start of the pandemic. Many of our plans have had to be adapted but over the last three months but we have found support in sharing our COVID-19 experiences. It’s been interesting to learn how occupational therapists working in different environments and different parts of the country are responding to the pandemic. 

This led us to think about extending the conversation into an OTalk, which is what we hope to achieve in this talk. A chance for a community to come together and share this experience. The questions we will be exploring are:

  1. How has Covid-19 impacted on your role & the way you practice? 

  1. What have been your biggest challenges during Covid-19?

  1. What have you done to promote/manage your own wellbeing during Covid-19?

  1. What are the important things have you learnt about yourself and the way you practice during the COVID-19 pandemic?

  1. What changes to practice have occurred that you hope will remain? 

#OTalk Research 7th July 2020 – Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) in OT Research

Like all shifts, it wasn’t an overnight change, but gradual and perhaps clearest to see on reflection. When I first started getting involved with patient and public involvement (and patient leadership), many conversations felt like persuading researchers ‘why’ they needed to involve and engage patients and the public in their work. In recent years, most conversations have moved on and are more often initiated by researchers asking about the ‘how’, and it’s the ‘how’ to make PPI meaningful, impactful and effective that I want to explore with OTs in this chat! 

After being asked by Jenny to host this chat, and saying a very enthusiastic yes, the next obvious  thing to do was to talk with people who live with health conditions and are involved in research about what questions they feel are important to pose… Although I have plenty of experience as a patient and patient leader, none of which are invalidated by being an OT student, it felt important get other perspectives, and practice what I preach! 

So in conversations with Tina Coldham (@TinaColdham), Carol Liddle (@LiddleCarole) and Natasha Liddle (@NatashaGarswood), we talked about the range of positive and challenging experiences we’ve had as patients involved in research, including making it meaningful, appealing and being respectful to those we are ‘engaging’. 

Many of our experiences and perspectives are summed in this letter (hyperlink to https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/hex.13087) by e-patient Sara Rigarre (@SaraRiggare) and colleagues very recently published in the journal Health Expectations, in response to a paper on PPI in research studies, in terms of PPI as an approach underpinned by person-centred values rather than isolated actions within a research project. 

And these are the questions that we’d like to use to stimulate some healthy debate on Tuesday 7th July! 


  1. How can we engage and use PPI in our research as OTs? 
  2. How can we make the language and activities of PPI in research more relevant to the person on the street?
  3. How can you bring the national standards for PPI to life, to make PPI in your research meaningful throughout the research process? 
  4. What transferable skills do we have as OTs that lend themselves to supporting PPI?

Just in case you need a reminder about the ‘why’, here are some of the key references regarding PPI in research for OTs. It’s a core part of the higher levels of the Evidence, Research and Development Pillar in the RCOT Career Development Framework:

Facilitate the involvement of service users, staff and/or students to co-design and co-produce aspects of research and/or service development with more experienced colleagues.” (RCOT, 2017, pg. 44)

The first of 10 key principles underpinning the RCOT Research and Development Strategy 2019-2024 is: 

“The individuals, groups and communities that we work with are at the core of occupational therapy practice, and the effectiveness and efficiency of service delivery are at the core of this R&D Strategy. RCOT expects people who access occupational therapy services not only to benefit from the evidence base underpinning practice, but also to play an active role in shaping research to develop new knowledge in line with national standards for public involvement in research.” (RCOT, 2019, pg. 9)

Indeed, the RCOT are already working with service users, patients and clients as key stakeholders in setting the research agenda for occupational therapy via their Priority Setting Partnership with the James Lind Alliance. 

Within healthcare research more generally, the NIHR have collaborated with many stakeholders to develop the UK Standards for Pubic Involvement in Research, which are a great place to start to think how to embed these principles across all aspects of health and care research. 

Anya de Iongh (@anyadei) is a first year pre-registration OT MSc student at UEA. Having been diagnosed with a number of health conditions in her early twenties, she got heavily involved in research as a patient leader, inspired by a gang of emerging patient leaders (see The Patient Revolution by David Gilbert, 2019, to get inspired yourself!) and having met OT and PPI research guru, Claire Ballinger. Her roles within the world of research have included working on research projects around nursing staffing with Wessex CLAHRC and online patient feedback with a team at Oxford University, as a PPI representative reviewing funding bids as part of a regional NIHR panel, and as Patient Editor at the British Medical Journal. 


Gilbert, D. (2019) The Patient Revolution: How We Can Heal The Healthcare System, Jessica Kingsley Publishers 

RCOT (2017) The Career Development Framework: Guiding Principles for Occupational Therapy. Available at: https://www.rcot.co.uk/sites/default/files/CAREER_FRAMEWORK.pdf

(Accessed: 18 June 2020) 

RCOT (2019) Royal College of Occupational Therapists’ Research and Development Strategy 2019-2024. Available at: https://www.rcot.co.uk/practice-resources/rcot-publications/royal-college-occupational-therapists-research-and-development-strategy-20192024 (Accessed: 18 June 2020) 

RCOT (2020) Setting the research agenda for occupational therapy, Available at: https://www.rcot.co.uk/setting-research-agenda-occupational-therapy (Accessed: 18 June 2020) 

NIHR (2019) UK Standards for Public Involvement in Research. Available at: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1U-IJNJCfFepaAOruEhzz1TdLvAcHTt2Q/view (Accessed: 18 June 2020) 

#OTalk Research: 2nd June 2020 – ‘That’s interesting’ – communicating your research with a non-research audience.

Hosts: Camilla Long and Sarah Travers, Bespoke Communications

GuidedByTheScience has become an unofficial mantra as governments worldwide adopt measures to combat the #Covid19 pandemic. Robust scientific advice relies on objective, rigorous research. And as the pandemic has highlighted, it’s often people outside your specialist field who have the power to amplify your research outcomes. That can lead to a friction between accessibility and clarity – the age-old ‘dumbing down’ conundrum.

Let’s for a moment imagine pre-Covid times – you’re at a family event. Or that you’re striking up a conversation with the person beside you on a flight home from a conference. Or maybe you’re meeting an old schoolfriend for the first time in years. In response to the question, ‘ so what do you work at?’, you reply that you’re in research. There’s an encouraging nod and a lull in the conversation waiting for you to elaborate. You describe your research. There’s a brief pause. Then the person who asked the question looks at you, says ‘that’s interesting’ in a tone of voice that means anything but, and the conversation continues as though you never spoke at all.

This may have never happened to you! But making your research understood by your family and friends is a great first step in research communication. Your research is intertwined with the needs of other stakeholders in your discipline – be they patients, funders or other healthcare professionals. Communicating your research is about making it relevant to those general audiences, audiences who are made up of people with family, friends and lives outside their workplace just like you. Connecting with people and their needs is the first step in great research communication.
Effective communication opens opportunity for collaboration, consultation and inspiration. You’ve already done this without thinking about it – that time you recruited participants for a study, or the public consultation you ran to assess views and attitudes. What about your blog post or video that got shared by an influential clinician? Or the time you gave a talk in a local school that ended up connecting you with an important local support group? Well planned research communication leads to research outcomes that are more robust, build trust and have greater impact. In other words, great communication moves the response to your research from ‘that’s interesting’ to ‘wow, tell me more, that’s exactly what we need’.
But we’re all busy. And we don’t have time to spend on non-core activities. So, to help you to communicate for maximum impact, here are some questions for you to consider for this week’s #OTalk:

  1. Does your Research Institute value public engagement?
  2. How has communication with non-research stakeholders helped you?
  3. What’s the biggest challenge for you in communicating your research with a general audience?
  4. What public engagement communication activity have your personally undertaken – written articles and blog posts, videos on social media, presentations and talks, media interviews, other activity?
  5. What’s been the most worthwhile research communication activity that you’ve been involved in and why?
  6. After tonight’s #OTalk, what will you do differently when communicating with a non-academic audience?

Bespoke Communications (@bespoke_comms) is a leading people-development agency, specialising in communication – public speaking coaching, presentation skills, internal communications and media training. We help technical experts and researchers to access stakeholders with coaching for pitches, presentations, interviews and events.

#OTalk (Research), 2nd July 2019 Testing out the new draft RCOT Research and Development Strategy

#OTalk (Research), 2nd July 2019
Testing out the new draft RCOT Research and Development Strategy

This week’s #OTalk is the latest hosted by the Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT) as part of its Research and Development Review, which is now drawing to a conclusion. The Review has provided the opportunity to engage with a range of constituent groups within RCOT’s membership, and to consider how the organisation supports the building of research capacity within the profession and the expansion of the evidence base informing practice. The primary output of the Review is a new RCOT Research and Development Strategy, the draft of which is the focus of this week’s #OTalk.

The chat will be co-hosted by @TheRCOT and @JoWatson22

The RCOT Research and Development (R&D) Review was launched in June 2017. Since then, we have held a series of listening events and consultations around the four nations of the UK and with a wide variety of occupational therapists including: practice-based staff, academics, researchers, service managers, consultant occupational therapists, post-graduate research students, specialist section R&D leads, members of the Council of Occupational Therapy Education Directors (COTED), occupational therapy professors and RCOT staff. We have consulted the literature and related policies across the four nations, reviewed the strategies of similar organisations and undertaken a number of focused projects including: a review of the RCOT Annual Awards, a review of the UK Occupational Therapy Research Foundation, and desk-based research scoping the research knowledge and skills related content of pre-registration education programmes accredited by RCOT.

Approximately 18 months’ work is now culminating in the drafting of the new RCOT Research and Development Strategy 2019-2024, which we anticipate will be published in early autumn 2019. As part of the process of consulting on and testing out the draft strategy, we are sharing key elements with you that we’d like to chat with you about during the #OTalk scheduled for July 2nd 2019.

You can access a summary of the core elements of the draft Research and Development Strategy here: https://www.rcot.co.uk/summary-draft-rcot-research-and-development-strategy-2019-2024

The questions forming the basis of the #OTalk discussion are:

1. Does the direction of travel set out in the draft R&D Strategy seem appropriate? If not, please try to explain why you think that is.

2. Bearing in mind the principle that we can all contribute something small to a larger collective effort, how does the draft R&D Strategy feel for you, in your circumstances?

3. How do you see yourself responding to the strategy? What actions do you think you could take?

4. Is there anything missing that you might have expected to see in draft R&D Strategy?

We are really looking forward to hearing your thoughts which will be very welcome contributions to the development of the new RCOT R&D Strategy.

Thank you.


Host: Royal College of Occupational Therapists @TheRCOT and @JoWatson22

OTalk support: @LynneGoodacre

Online Transcript#OTalk Healthcare Social Media Transcript July 2nd 2019

#OTalk Healthcare Social Media Transcript July 2nd 2019

The Numbers

1.395M Impressions
315 Tweets
27 Participants
164 Avg Tweets/Hour
12 Avg Tweets/Participant

#OTalk Participants


#OTalk – 25th June 2019 – The Sentinel Stroke National Audit Programme (SSNAP)

This week’s chat will be hosted by Louise Clark on behalf of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists Specialist Section for Neurological Practice @RCOT_NP here is what they had to say.

The Sentinel Stroke National Audit Programme (SSNAP) is the national dataset for stroke, widely used in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The aim of the audit is to improve stroke care by measuring the structure and processes of stroke care against evidence based standards, such as the RCP guidelines for stroke (2016). For example this includes length of stay on a stroke unit, time to initial assessment by an occupational therapist, number of days OT delivered as a % of patient stay, number of minutes of therapy delivered on average per day, % of mood and cognition screens completed.

Data collection and entry is a significant feature in stroke unit care and Early Supported Discharge and for some is not always a welcome addition to our workload. However, there are positives to having such a huge database of information and comparisons against other services and national averages…..

The aim of this #OTalk is to explore those positives and think how can best use the information we collect and share ideas regarding meeting the 45 minute therapy target. We are joined for our talk by a member of the SSNAP team (………) and will share tools and signpost to resources/help regarding SSNAP.

This #OTalk has been hosted by Louise Clark from the stroke forum of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists specialist section for Neurological practice, in response to member feedback for topics. We hope you enjoy it and carry on the conversations in your workplace.

1. What do you think are the positives about SSNAP?

2. How do you use the data day to day to plan or improve patient care?

3. People have mixed feelings about the 45 minute therapy target. Why is it important (for patients, therapy services)?

4. What can you do to help meet your 45 minute target?

We would ask participants to look out for 3 short feedback questions posted with the transcript in the week following this #OTalk. We’d really appreciate your feedback in helping us evaluate and plan our sessions.

Future sessions from the stroke forum include;
24th September 2019 – Neglect (with Dr Ailie Turton)
26th November 2019 – Driving (with Paul Graham)
25th February 2020 – Vision (with the British and Irish Orthoptic Society- BIOS

Post Chat

Host: Louise Clark @RCOT_NP

Support on Otalk account: @otrach Rachel Booth

Online Transcript

#OTalk Healthcare Social Media Transcript June 25th 2019

The Numbers

1.105M Impressions
371 Tweets
31 Participants
297 Avg Tweets/Hour
12 Avg Tweets/Participant

#OTalk Participants