#OTalk 24 April – Occupational therapy and volunteering


This weeks #Otalk is on the topic of “volunteering” and will be hosted by Orla Hughes (@Orlatheot).

At the RCOT 2018 conference in June, I will be presenting a personal reflection on how I used my occupational therapy skills when volunteering last year. The aim of the presentation is to encourage others (especially students) to develop their professional skills by taking up volunteering roles at home or abroad. I hope this Twitter chat can help us recognise and reflect on the value we bring to our volunteer roles.

Here are the questions we will be discussing:

  1. Hello! Please introduce yourself and answer Q.1 which is ‘Have you ever volunteered, or do you currently volunteer with an organisation? Tell us about it.’
  2. What barriers stop you from volunteering?
  3. What do you enjoy about volunteering? Does it benefit you?
  4. What occupational therapy skills have you used in a volunteer role? Tell us about how you used them. What do occupational therapists bring that others do not?
  5. Do you think it is useful to volunteer abroad or is it better to volunteer locally where you are ‘culturally relevant’?
  6. Do you record your volunteer experience as CPD evidence? If so, how?
  7. Can you identity new roles for occupational therapy in the organisations that you have or still volunteered with?
  8. Finally, sharing is caring! Please share any opportunities where organisations are looking for volunteers. Do you know any organisations that provide funding for volunteer projects? Or even any literature on the topic of volunteering?




#OTalk 17th April – OT and personality disorder.

This weeks #Otalk is on the topic of “OT and personality disorder” and will be hosted by Keir Harding (@KeirWales).

Here is what Keir had to say…

April the 16th is the first ever conference for Occupational Therapists working within the field of Personality Disorder.  We thought it would be good to take some of the learning from the conference and take it outside of the room so on April 17th, #Otalk is dedicated to exploring the themes of the conference.

Personality disorder is a highly contentious diagnosis associated with high levels of stigma and exclusion from services.  Staff often find the difficulties around self harm and suicide difficult to work with.  The challenges of working with people who find others to be threatening and untrustworthy can also impact on clinicians feeling effective.  Often the environment around people with this diagnosis adds to the stigma by labelling them as attention seeking and manipulative.

While there is a temptation to think that this is particularly related to the field of mental health, it’s worth remembering the people who get this diagnosis are over represented in physical health, particularly in the areas of fibromyalgia, chronic pain, diabetes and arthritis.  With a prevalence of around 1 in 10 of the population, the chances are high that we are working with people who might meet the criteria for this diagnosis – whether as our patients or colleagues.   As OTs, we could argue that we are less likely to be affected by stigma due to our tendency to be less focused on diagnosis.

The questions for the night might well be subject to change but for now….

1 – Should the diagnosis of Personality Disorder have any impact on how we work with people?

2 – Are standardised assessments useful for working with this client group (What do you use?)

3 – Specific OT or Manualised treatment done by OTs.  Where should we lean?

4 – What it the future of OT for people who are given this diagnosis?

Post Chat

Online Transcript from the #OT4PD on 16th April 2018

Online Transcript from the #otalk chat

PDF. #OTalk Healthcare Social Media Transcript April 17th 2018

The Numbers

1.883M Impressions
455 Tweets
49 Participants
364 Avg Tweets/Hour
Avg Tweets/Participant

#OTalk Participants


#OTalk 10th April 2018 – How to record your CPD

This weeks #OTalk is on the topic of “Recording your CPD” and will be hosted by Sarah Lawson (@SLawsonOT).

Here’s what Sarah had to say…

My name is Sarah Lawson @SLawsonOT, I am an Occupational Therapist and I think it’s safe to say a CPD geek. I am an MPhil/PhD student researching understanding of and engagement in Continuing Professional Development (CPD). I lecture to undergraduate Occupational Therapy students about all aspects of professional development, I carry out some clinical work in a specialist research hospital and am Regional Forum Lead for the Royal College of Occupational Therapists North West Region. Alongside all of this I work together with Deb Hearle @HearleD developing the TRAMm (Tell, Record, Activities, Monitor, measure) Model (Hearle et al. 2016) for Continuing Professional Development (www.TRAMmCPD.com). Deb is also studying for her Professional Doctorate researching the nature and process of CPD.

We have developed The TRAMm Model as a framework to encourage people to engage with CPD. CPD is a personal and subjective journey, as well as a professional and mandatory requirement. In order to be most effective, it is necessary to Tell others, Record and apply the learning from your CPD Activities, Monitor your progress and measure the impact. To facilitate this journey, we have developed tools to help you, the TRAMm Tracker can be used to record, monitor and measure your development and the TRAMm Trail enables you to record in a little more depth significant pieces of your CPD. The TRAMm Model, TRAMm Tracker and TRAMm Trail are collectively known as TRAMmCPD.

As part of our work we have examined what it means to be engaged in CPD (Hearle and Lawson 2016) and how to recognise when routine work activity becomes CPD (Hearle et al. 2015). Before beginning to record our CPD we need to consider how we become aware and recognise when we are engaged in learning which needs to be captured and recorded for our CPD.

For us in the UK keeping a ‘continuous, up-to-date and accurate record’ (HCPC 2017 p5) of CPD is an essential and mandatory requirement of our HCPC registration and yet some people are not sure what counts as CPD or how to capture the information (Qa Research 2015 p4). Recording CPD is one of the TRAMm stations, I have updated this mind map (Click here to view) which was originally included in our book (Hearle et al. 2016) which considers a myriad of ways in which you might record your CPD. You may have other elements you would add to this.

We need to engage in and record our CPD but how can we make the most from our everyday work opportunities when we are all having to manage increasing workloads and pressures, with less time, often less support from managers and the organisations we work in. Can we try to work smarter, rather than harder to ensure that we are gaining some personal satisfaction, enhancing our knowledge and skills, meeting requirements and improving the lives of our service users? How do you capture the more nebulous, anecdotal aspects of CPD? Particularly those aspects which may provide a measure of the success (or otherwise) of our CPD, such as feelings of confidence, service user/carer feedback, a box of chocolates, a text and social media interactions.

How you decide what to record? Do you use a traditional format of a paper portfolio, keep your CPD Portfolio on your personal computer, use an E-portfolio either free or pay a monthly subscription or do you do something different? Personally, I keep everything on my computer and my CPD memory stick. I scan, using an app on my phone things like notes, certificates, feedback and any other relevant items and keep them electronically rather than collecting and keeping paper copies.

A recent report commissioned by the Department of Health (Illing et al. 2017 p5) highlights that our current system of regulation operates in parallel to our employers’ annual appraisals system and makes recommendations that the two systems be joined up and feed into each other. As Occupational Therapists we work in a wide variety of settings, many have to engage in annual appraisal/professional development reviews. I have previously spent 10 years working within social care, our annual appraisal became more and more business focused, many aspects of which did not sit well with our professional ethos. Completing the appraisal paperwork felt to me like extra work, much of which was irrelevant for my CPD whilst other aspects were a repetition of my CPD just written in a different format. I was able to develop methods of recording using TRAMmCPD to manage this both within my supervisions and my annual appraisals to ensure that I was meeting my employer’s expectations whilst keeping the extra work required to a minimum.


Finally, it is worth considering how we ensure our online safety and maintain confidentiality when using cloud based or other applications. For this #OTalk I would like to explore the following:

Questions to consider:

  1. How do you become aware of and recognise that you are engaged in learning that is relevant for your CPD which needs to be captured and recorded?
  2. What do you record?
  3. How and where do you record your learning for your CPD?
  4. How do you record the more difficult to capture, nebulous, anecdotal aspects of your CPD?
  5. Do you record the impact that your learning has had, on yourself, your service users and your organisation?
  6. Have you developed a method of linking your CPD to your Supervision and Annual Appraisals without making more work for yourself?
  7. How do you ensure your online safety and maintain service user confidentiality? If you are using an online/cloud-based service do you read the terms and conditions of use? Do you know what they do with your information?

Having reflected whilst writing this blog, it is all very well developing effective methods of recording CPD, the next important aspect is to apply all this rich and varied learning to ensure we are meeting numbers 3 and 4 of the HCPC Standards for CPD (HCPC 2017)! A possible topic for a future #OTalk?


Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) (2017) Continuing Professional Development and Your Registration. London: Health and Care Professions Council

Hearle, D., Lawson, S. & Morris, R. (2016). A Strategic Guide to Continuing Professional Development for Health and Care Professionals: The TRAMm Model. Keswick: M & K Publishing.

Hearle, D. & Lawson, S. (2016). Are You and Your Team Really Engaging in Continuing Professional Development (CPD)? College of Occupational Therapists 40th Annual Conference Harrogate.

Hearle, D., Lawson, S. & Morris, R. (2015). When Does Routine Work Activity Become Continuing Professional Development? College of Occupational Therapists 38th Annual Conference. Brighton.

Illing, J., Crampton, P., Rothwell, C., Corbett, S., Tiffin, P., Trepel, D. (2017) What is the Evidence for Assuring the Continuing Fitness to Practise of Health and Care Professions Council registrants, based on its Continuing Professional Development and Audit System? Newcastle: Newcastle University

Qa Research. (2015). Perceptions and Experiences of the HCPC Approach to Continuing Professional Development Standards and Audits: Report for the HCPC. York: Qa Research


Post chat

Online Transcript

#OTalk Healthcare Social Media Transcript April 9th 2018

The Numbers

10Avg Tweets/Hour
6Avg Tweets/Participant

#OTalk Participants






#OTalk 27th March – Students, practice educators and the key ingredients to a successful practice placement.

This weeks #Otalk is on the topic of “practice placements” and will be hosted by Lucy Gordon (@LucyGordon83).

Here is what Lucy had to say…

I am a final year student with four months left at Coventry University. I have been lucky enough to have three excellent experiences on each of my practice placements, in a variety of different settings. Additionally, I have seen how peer support and MDT support during a placement can make a huge difference to student experience.

It is important that qualified occupational therapists provide practice placements for students because they have a professional responsibility to provide regular practice education opportunities for occupational therapy students where possible, and to promote a learning culture within the workplace (RCOT 2015).

Therefore, I would like to host an #OTalk exploring how students and educators can create great student experiences, but also to look at what students can bring to a service. I want to understand the strategies used by students whilst on placement to help them get the most from their experience, but I also want practice educators to share what they think makes a great student and what they expect during placement.

I hope that the chat gives students, health professionals and practice educators the opportunity to share strategies, advice and knowledge, in a supportive and friendly environment.

Questions to consider:

Q1. As students, occupational therapists and practice educators, how would you define a successful practice placement?

Q2. How can students and practice educators work together to ensure student placements are successful?

Q3. What can skills and knowledge can students bring to a service whilst they are on a practical placement?

Q4. How can practice educators support students in their learning?

Q5. What tips can you share for resources you have created whilst on placement to help you develop as a student?


Royal College of Occupational Therapy (2015) Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. London: College of Occupational Therapy

Post Chat

Online Transcript

#OTalk Healthcare Social Media Transcript March 27th 2018

The Numbers

1.258M Impressions
587 Tweets
61 Participants
470 Avg Tweets/Hour
10 Avg Tweets/Participant

#OTalk Participants


#OTalk 20th March – Occupational Therapy and working with people severe and multiple learning disabilities.

This weeks #Otalk is on the topic of “OT and learning disability” and will be hosted by RCOT Specialist Section for people with learning disabilities (@RCOT_PLD).

The RCOT people with learning disabilities specialist section are hosting their second #otalk on 20th March 2018. Choosing a topic has not been easy as we acknowledge there is a lot we can talk about. We asked our members at the last annual conference which was hosted at RCOT HQ on 14th October 2017 what they would like to discuss. The decision was occupational therapy and STOMP campaign. We held this #otalk on 21st November 2017. You can review the discussion at www.otalk.co.uk.

Our members second choice on the role of occupational therapy for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD). We would like to gain a better understanding of what occupational therapists are currently doing when working with clients with PMLD and have posed five questions which will be asked during the #OTalk:

  1. What is the role of an occupational therapist working with people with severe and multiple learning disability (PMLD)?
  2. What strategies, techniques or assessment do you use when working with client with PMLD?
  3. What are the challenges or difficulties?
  4. Do you feel you have the right skills?
  5. Is there enough evidence to support you work?

Prior to the discuss we advice you to access the Lillywhite and Haines (2009) publication ‘occupational therapy with people with learning disabilities’ which can be found on our web page on the RCOT website.

Post chat

#OTalk Healthcare Social Media Transcript March 20th 2018

Online Transcript

The Numbers

1.551M Impressions
604 Tweets
62 Participants
483 Avg Tweets/Hour
10 Avg Tweets/Participant

#OTalk Participants


#OTalk 13th March – What does the term participation mean in mental health?


This weeks #Otalk is on the topic of “Participation” and will be hosted by Tori Wolfendale (@Tori_Doll).

Tori Wolfendale is a Specialist Occupational Therapist working within an intensive rehabilitation mental health environment. At present, she is involved as the Research Director for the VdT Model of Creative Ability Foundation UK and is also a member of @MOT1ON_Research – she has a keen interest in contributing to the evidence base for Occupational Therapy interventions, focusing predominantly on the implementation of the VdT Model of Creative Ability within adult mental health services.

What is the Mental Health Occupational Therapy Interventions and Outcomes Network (MOTION)?

@MOT1ON_Research was set up by Dr. Mary Birken in April 2017 to bring together Occupational Therapists interested in adult mental health intervention effectiveness research in the UK. This was as a result of the review of “Recovering Ordinary Lives: the strategy for occupational therapy in mental health services 2007 to 2017”, (College of Occupational Therapists, 2006) whereby it was identified that a key concern for Occupational Therapists working in mental health is the lack of quantitative evidence of effectiveness of sufficient rigour to be included in clinical guidelines, such as those produced by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (Smyth, 2014). Commissioners also identified that demonstrating evidence of effectiveness and cost effectiveness is a priority for Occupational Therapy in mental health. To respond to the need to carry out rigorous research to test the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of Occupational Therapy in mental health, MOTION was developed. The aim of MOTION is to bring together Occupational Therapists interested in researching this topic to tackle the common barriers to carrying out effectiveness research in this area, for example, lack of agreement on outcomes and outcome measurement, and Occupational Therapists working generically in community mental health services.

MOTION has recognised that the concept of ‘participation’ is increasingly becoming an important outcome for assessment in many fields, including development, disability and policy implementation. However, selecting specific instruments to measure participation has been a significant problem due to overlapping conceptual definitions and use of different theories. Furthermore, following the first meeting of the MOTION working groups, which focuses on participation as an outcome measure and measures of participation. The aim of this particular working group is to explore the literature on participation and outcome measures within adult mental health services. As a result, in order to obtain an understanding of what the term ‘participation’ means within mental health services from an occupational therapy perspective, MOTION decided to explore this topic within the #OTalk forum.

For more information about MOTION, please visit:

https:// motionresearch.wordpress.com

How is participation recognised within existing literature?

Occupational Therapy is a client-centred health profession concerned with promoting health and wellbeing through occupation. The primary goal of Occupational Therapy is to enable people to participate in the activities of everyday life. Occupational Therapists achieve this outcome by working with people and communities to enhance their ability to engage in the occupations they want to, need to, or are expected to do, or by modifying the occupation or the environment to better support their occupational engagement (WFOT, 2012).

Rice (2011) states that Occupational Therapy is concerned with the meaning that individuals’ place on activities and occupations that are carried out in their daily routines. Participation in these activities is influenced by an individual’s motivation, experience, abilities and limitations. Occupational Therapists are therefore trained to evaluate a person’s abilities and limitations in a variety of life spheres in order to establish a baseline performance which is used to plan for treatment and is then evaluated using a specific outcome measure – within the current service that Tori is working in, the Activity Participation Outcome Measure (APOM) is used to measure the outcome of specific domains, including; processing skills, communication and social interactions skills, life skills, role performance, balanced life style, motivation, self-esteem and affect.

Clinically, a person’s role participation becomes the focus of the Occupational Therapist when disability-related limitations affect a person’s capacity to participate in desired and meaningful roles. Occupational Therapists aim to assure that persons with a disability have the motivation, opportunity, and capacity to overcome disability-related limitations and participate in social life. The International Classification of Health, Disability and Function (ICF) defines participation as “involvement in life situations” different than it defines activities which are “the execution of a task or action by an individual”. Furthermore, the ICF states that participation naturally occurs when clients are actively involved in carrying out occupations or daily life activities they find purposeful and meaningful. More specific outcomes of Occupational Therapy interventions are multidimensional and support the end result of participation. Despite the difference in definition, the ICF places both activities and participation together within existing literature – this ambiguity has resulted in an entire thread of literature as rehabilitation researches seek to identify ways to approach the measurement of participation.

Questions to consider within the #OTalk chat:

Q1: What does the term ‘participation’ mean to you/your service users?

Q2) Is participation an important measure within mental health services, if so how?

Q3) Do you consider occupational participation throughout the occupational therapy process, if so how?

Q4) How does the physical, social, cultural environment impact on participation within inpatient and community mental health services?

Q5) How do mental health services define ‘participation’ in meaningful occupation?


College of Occupational Therapists. (2006), Recovering Ordinary Lives –the strategy for occupational therapy in mental health services 2007-2017. London: COT.

Rice, C., M. (2011). The development of an assessment protocol for activity participation in those suffering from mental illness The development of an assessment protocol for activity participation in those suffering from mental illness.

Smyth, G. (2014), “Recovering Ordinary Lives: the success, challenges and future”, Occupational Therapy News, Vol. 22, No. 9, pp. 22-23.

World Federation of Occupational Therapists. (2012). Definition of Occupational Therapy. Available: http://www.wfot.org/AboutUs/AboutOccupationalTherapy/DefinitionofOccupationalTherapy.aspx. Last accessed 15th January 2018.

Post Chat

Online Transcript

#OTalk Healthcare Social Media Transcript March 13th 2018

The Numbers

936.728K Impressions
374 Tweets
53 Participants
299 Avg Tweets/Hour
Avg Tweets/Participant

#OTalk Participants

Data for #OTalk can be up to 15 minutes delayed


#OTalk 27th February – Trans, non-binary and gender identities in occupational engagement.

This weeks #Otalk is on the topic of “gender identities in occupational engagement.” and will be hosted by Rebecca Swanson (@75Rebecca) and supported by Eden Dowers.


Eden Dowers: Eden is a non-binary occupational therapy (masters) student living and studying in Melbourne, Australia. Their interest is in developing transgender-positive practice, highlighting the need to create more complex concepts of identity and multiple ways of becoming.

Rebecca Swenson: Rebecca is a lecturer in occupational therapy at London South Bank University. She is currently undertaking UKOTRF funded research into the lived experience of those who define as trans, non-binary or genderqueer, exploring the relationship between occupational engagement and identity expression.

Here’s what they had to say…

There has been a recent and profound shift in the understanding, and recognition, of transgender and non-binary identities. This is reflected in potential changes to legislation, namely the Gender Recognition Act which would make it easier for those who define as trans or non-binary to self-declare their gender rather than undergo the arduous legal and medical processes currently in place.

Whilst attitudes and legislation may be changing, those who are trans and non-binary can face hostility and discrimination and there remains misinformation about these communities particularly with regards to health needs. In 2016, the parliamentary Women and Equalities Committee published the results of their Transgender Equality Inquiry which examined the ways in which transgender people have yet to achieve full equality and involved the scrutiny of practice across health and social care professions. The report states that the NHS is failing to protect the rights of trans people, due in part to lack of knowledge and understanding from clinicians of the health needs of these communities.

With these proposed changes to legislation and an increasing number of people defining as trans and non-binary, as reflected in the significant increase of referrals to Gender Identity Clinics, it is timely to discuss gender identities in relation to practice. This will be an opportunity for the OTtalk community to discuss best practice and the positive role that occupational therapy can play in enabling those who are trans or non-binary express their gender and live a life authentic to them.

Post chat

Online Transcript

#OTalk Healthcare Social Media Transcript February 27th 2018

The Numbers

1.736 M Impressions
479 Tweets
54 Participants
383 Avg Tweets/Hour
Avg Tweets/Participant

#OTalk Participants