Blog Posts


#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

ASI Wise –

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


#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


#OTalk – 1st June 2021 – Outcome Measures and interventions used by Occupational Therapists to manage long COVID

To be hosted by Anita Atwal @anita_atwal, Associate Professor, South Bank University, Emma Nicklin @emmakears Trust Wide Head of Profession for Occupational Therapy, Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust Kirsty Stanley @Occ4LifeLtd, Independent Occupational Therapist

@preston_jenny will be on the account

Occupational Therapy is viewed as key to enabling persons with long COVID return back to their everyday daily activities.  Evidence is needed to guide interventions and to monitor changes. This is challenging since evidence from NICE guidance (2020) on the management of long covid acknowledges that there is little evidence on intervention and or the common symptoms related to COVID-19, such as fatigue, dizziness and cognitive problems (such as ‘brain fog’), but the panel agreed that support, such as setting achievable goals, should be tailored to the person’s needs.

This Twitter chat is anchored within co-production workshops involving occupational therapists  to reflect on interventions used within practice to identify barriers and facilitators to providing services.  Key findings from the workshop were:

1. Existing interventions being adapted but no agreement on actual occupational therapy interventions

2. Outcome measures not being used to evaluate occupational therapy elements of services

3.  Occupational therapists not always being able to articulate the unique selling point and or value of occupational therapy

4. Acknowledgement that current interventions carried out by occupational therapists could be adopted by other members of the multi- disciplinary team

This Twitter chat will explore each of the findings from the workshop.


The Numbers

1.966M Impressions
452 Tweets
64 Participants
9 Avg Tweets/Hour
7 Avg Tweets/Participant


Improving Representation in OT – One Year On – What Next – #OTalk 25th May 2021

Take a look at the blog posts and summaries for the four chats hosted over the last year.



LGBTQIA+ and Gender


1) What have you done personally?

2) What progress has the profession made?

3) What have been the barriers?

4) And the opportunities?

5) What opportunities are coming next?

6) What should we pledge to do by May 2022?

7) And how will we get there? (Practical steps)


The Numbers

2.184M Impressions
645 Tweets
93 Participants
13 Avg Tweets/Hour
7 Avg Tweets/Participant


#OTalk – 18th May 2021 – The new stroke service specification – what does this mean for community services?

This weeks chat will be hosted by Louise Clark @louiseclark15

April 2021 saw the NHS England endorsement of a new stroke service model, in response to the NHS Long Term Plan (2019). One of the priorities in the LTP (https://www.longtermpl) was to develop specialist, intensive rehabilitation services in the community for all who require them. With the new stroke service model detailing integrated community services, psychological care, and vocational rehabilitation, what does this mean for community stroke services as we know them?

Join Louise Clark (@louiseclark15) and colleagues from the RCOT- SSNP stroke forum (@RCOT_NP) and Dr Rebecca Fisher (NHS England- Rehabilitation and life after stroke lead @RebeccaJFisher_) to explore this in more detail.

Please join the stroke community on the NHS Futures platform to read the integrated community stroke service specification and many more useful documents and discussions (

We will explore the following questions:

1) What are the key features/most significant changes in the stroke service model for community services?

2) What are the benefits/opportunities of the proposed model?

3) What are the challenges/threats of the proposed model?

4) What steps are important in moving towards this model?


The Numbers

1.013M Impressions
302 Tweets
70 Participants
6 Avg Tweets/Hour
4 Avg Tweets/Participant