- To address the value of becoming a foster carer
- To provide insight into the lived experiences of a foster carer for children with complex care needs
Given caseload, time constraints and pressures in the workplace it can become challenging for occupational therapists and students to focus beyond day to day work. Aspects of work, appointments being late or lack of service user engagement can become frustrating. Yet, how many of us have considered this from the other side? How many of us understand what it feels like to be the person attending an appointment be it for yourself or with someone you love?
Esther, occupational therapist currently working with adults with learning disabilities, talked openly and honestly about the day to day challenges of being a foster carer for children with complex needs and the heartwarming insight into the joy and happiness that comes with it.
She started with getting us to consider the little things. Sometimes as an occupational therapist there is nothing we can do, things may happen beyond our locus of control. But that doesn’t mean we can’t make a difference. Simply giving someone the time, listening to them, validating their feelings may not solve the problem but can make all the difference. You don’t always have to provide a solution to provide support.
That’s where working collaboratively comes into play. The best therapy, if implemented at the wrong time, can lose meaning and impact. How do we know what’s going on in a family without talking to them? Yes, we are experts in the field of occupational therapy, but they are the experts in knowing their child, their family situation and potentially the right and the wrong time.
When it came to timing, Esther talked about the challenges of lone caring for children with complex health needs. As she said, sleep is her super power, yet while foster caring, the child becomes a priority. While she has children for respite, limited and disrupted sleep is a way of life for a lot of those caring for children and adults with learning disabilities.
That’s where we play a vital role. It’s time to start thinking about how we can make life easier, how can we ease the pressure of attending appointments and avoid setting carers up for failure. We need to consider family needs, ask them for a prefered location or time of day, be mindful of the families experiences and again, start making a difference by changing the little things.
The expectations and reality of being a foster carer are different, yes it does bring with it a number of challenges. Esther openly talked about a lack of sleep, the hour it takes to get everything ready before leaving the house and the reality of the experience. But ending the session with heartwarming stories of children giggling, crossing the mid line and playing.
At the end of the presentation it was obvious that despite the challenges and realities of being a foster carer it was the good moment and valuable time with the children themselves that made all the difference. As occupational therapists, it’s our duty to remember the little things, listening and work with families that will make life easier for those we work with.
Written by @Amie_OT
To begin my blog I want to say I feel honoured to be undertaking this role for such an inspirational leader of Occupational Therapy. Nick Pollard has been justly nominated to deliver this year’s Elizabeth Casson Memorial Lecture. However it will not be easy to sufficiently encapsulate the content of the lecture in this blog.
I will highlight a number of key messages for you and include some personal reflections. The complete lecture will be available on the RCOT & Conference website to listen at your leisure and as the leading article in next month’s edition of the British Journal of Occupational Therapy.
Nick was nominated to deliver this prestigious lecture by Dr Rebecca Khanna Assistant Dean Faculty Health Well-Being Sheffield Hallam University. During her introduction, Rebecca reminded us that this was the 42nd National Occupational Therapy Conference and of the following advice, that the person delivering the Elizabeth Casson Memorial Lecture “should speak from and to the heart of occupational matters”, that for her this was clearly evident in the wide ranging achievements of Nick Pollard’s work over many years.
Further she recalled coming to know him and of his work in occupational therapy in the late 80’s and early 90’s, particularly that he was “deeply applied” to occupational therapy practice and the narratives of individual people”. His early commitment was far reaching, especially for service users who were marginalised and challenged by occupational injustice. Rebecca continued to summarise by recounting Nick’s impressive range of texts including “Occupational Therapy Without Borders”, and his means to promote social inclusion at a local, national and international appeal, whilst also engaging with people and projects at a local level and is an inspiration around the world.
A personal reflection, over many years Nick’s work has encouraged has inspired me and numerous other occupational therapists, his work is of international acclaim and yet he also gives time and interest to the small and local spirit of occupational therapy, giving this equal credence. This has included opportunity to write a chapter in his book ‘A Political Practice of Occupational Therapy’.
As a visiting lecturer from Sheffield Hallam, Nick came to see a student on practice placement with me, he took great interest in the MACA Group, (Music and Creative Activities) and wholly endorsed our work. He could see immediately what we were doing and the great significance of the power of occupational transformation that he spoke about today. For me Nick has enabled the international and political perspective of Occupational Therapy feel accessible, within reach. This is no mean feat. He is a truly amazing occupational therapist. Elizabeth Casson would have be pretty pleased with his work as he endorses the political philosophy and power of occupation.
Nick began his lecture on a humorous note with a game of Word Bingo and a prestigious prize of a bottle of Henderson’s Relish (Google this for more detail it is truely famous, revered and treasured in Sheffield), also signed by his colleagues in Sheffield Hallam University, some great names will be on the bottle!
Nick continued to say what a great honour it was to be nominated for this Casson Memorial Lecture and he wanted to begin by thanking the many people in his life who had supported his work. He included Silvia Sans Victoria and her hospitality and friendship, especially for himself and Frank Kronenberg after achieving approval for a publishing contract to begin writing the now acclaimed ‘Occupational Therapy Without Borders’.
Nick reminded us that Elizabeth Casson was a true hero who fought for change, but that she did not do this alone. The need to work together in teams alongside and with other people to create social change. Nick gave a truly welcome plug to our Human Library work (see RCOT 2018 blog 11).
He spoke of the political history of our precious NHS reminding us all of how life was before its inception. Recalling his own family history, stories of health challenges both before and after the NHS came into being and pre-post war politics with pressures for change. Further Nick went on to talk of the current and relentless austerity damage within the NHS with the professions working to cope with what is called ‘Winter Pressure’. The challenges he has seen recorded in students academic assignments in a way not seen before, where the human story is often lost.
Key messages (contributed by Nick):
- Occupation is complex, but that doesn’t mean that the concept is so difficult to get across to people.
- Narrative offers a powerful vehicle for conveying the significance of occupation and enables the imagination of possible change.
- Our shared narratives can facilitate connections
- Our shared narratives can facilitate connections in a global city of occupational therapists with social transformation objectives.
- We can build on that global city through actively talking to each other about practice research ideas, sharing our stories and translating critical discussions into actions.
- Those connections lead to action.
- We are a small profession though we are international and can use this as an advantage. Our Global City does not have walls, we can use occupational based transformation, actively listening, developing narratives, doing, being, becoming and belonging across generations.
Nick’s closing words:
A city of occupational therapists – a city itself which is heroic!! To shape thinking and politics of our profession, to build a global city with narratives to involve people in action. Working with consequences of health inequality, reaching out to gain power by sharing power, doing being, becoming and belonging. What is our story?
Nick you are a brilliant man a fantastic occupational therapist, I hope this blog will encourage everyone to find your lecture on-line RCOT 18 conference website and to read your paper in the next edition of British Journal of Occupational Therapy.
Yes there was a winner for the bottle of the famous Henderson Relish!!
- This blog was written by Catherine McNulty you can find me on twitter @cathymc9781 best wishes to you all!!
This engaging session presented by Dr Jennifer Wenborn and Jane Burgess from the Valuing Active Life in Dementia (VALID) research team provided insights into the teams achievements during the development and delivery of this monumental clinical trial.
To introduce the session Jennifer outlined the aims of the VALID Programme which are to:
‘adapt, develop, evaluate and implement an occupation based intervention to promote independence, meaningful activity and quality of life for people with dementia and their family carers living in the community’.
Jennifer informed us that VALID is the largest randomised controlled trial of Occupational Therapy to have taken place within the UK with 468 dyads (a dyad is a person with dementia and their family carer) recruited to the trial across 15 sites in England. Jennifer went on to highlight the screening and consent process which ensured that all of the participants met the eligibility criteria which included having capacity to consent upon entry to the trial.
Jane then explained that her role was to supervise and train all of the occupational therapists delivering the Community Occupational Therapy in Dementia (COTiD-UK) intervention. She emphasised the importance of providing standardised training to support the fidelity of the occupational therapy provision. Jane then described the component parts of COTiD-UK taking us through the assessment process, goal setting and the types of activities facilitated as part of the intervention. She went on to explain that the final session was used to evaluate and celebrate the dyads achievements.
Jane then shared some of the feedback from participating occupational therapists. What particularly resonated was their delight at being able to focus upon delivering pure occupational therapy and having the time to gain a deeper understanding of their dyads needs and goals.
I have a personal affinity with the VALID project as I was fortunate to lead the delivery of the trial at Devon Partnership Trust and to carry out the COTiD-UK intervention. I am passionate about using this blog to stress the significance of the VALID programme for occupational therapy. Already the trial has been recognised for its attainments with Jennifer receiving a Fellowship from the Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT) for her contribution to occupational therapy practice and research for her involvement in the trial.
It was deeply rewarding to hear Jennifer and Jane discussing the wider impacts of a clinical trial that I had contributed to. I felt privileged to be present to hear the preliminary results which are literally hot off the press and I feel sure that they will inspire occupational therapists in their future research endeavours.
Jennifer and Jane advised that I would be unable to share the preliminary results within this blog as the team plan to inform all of the research delivery sites of the results first. So for those of you waiting in anticipation you will have to wait a little longer! The results will be available in full later this summer.
What had real impact today are the challenges involved in delivering and analysing the components of a complex intervention and the importance of identifying outcome measures that capture real change. As an occupational therapist in my early research career I have reflected with admiration upon the accomplishments of this trial and wonder where the learning from it will take our profession next!
Written by Faye Dunford. Find me on Twitter @FayeDunford
Presenters: Catherine McNulty & Chris Wood, Social Change community group Lincolnshire and Sheffield Hallam University.
One of the last presentations on the last day at the Occupation station at #RCOT18
If I had to choose only one word it would be FANTASTIC!! All occupational Therapists need to know about this concept that fits beautifully with our core principles and focuses on capturing the human story without it feeling like you are being assessed, treated or put under the spot light. It is an excellent approach to facilitate understanding. Enabling people to learn from each other and promote empowerment.
Human Library’s originated in Copenhagen, Denmark following a tragic violent incident where a young man was attacked with a knife at a music festival. The root cause was tracked back to prejudice and discrimination.
Menneskebiblioket means ‘Human Library’. It has been a very successful movement and its trademarked concept spread globally earning recognition as an international inequalities movement. It is successfully addressing barriers and enabling people to not only get their views heard but learn from each other, developing understanding, compassion and finding common ground.
The Hearing Voices group in Sleaford learned of the Human Library movement and identified a need within their Hearing Voices Social Change group to facilitate conversations that did not feel pressured, negative, and anxiety provoking or focused on vulnerabilities. The group decided on a gentler perspective where the focus was not purely on discrimination or prejudice but facilitated conversations.
Catherine and Chris were engaging and fun. They explained how a Human Library works and brought it alive in the space. Within a few minutes the participants in the room were encouraged to take part and grab a badge that said one of the following:
Book. Choose story about you, your life, your experiences, wishes, fears anything you wish, write the title on a piece of paper and brief synopsis. Once a reader chooses your book you answer the questions of the reader.
Librarians.The librarians put the papers on a metaphoric book shelf and once the reader has chosen a story they sign it out and introduce you to the ‘human book’, they time keep as the maximum book loan is 15 mins.
Readers. Read the synopsis and choose a book to read, once introduced to a human book they ask questions or share what interested them about the book.
Books must be treated with respect. They do not have to answer questions and can end a conversation if they wish.
15 mins is kept and there is no opportunity to extend or renew.
The Librarians facilitate time and guidelines and rights of the readers and books.
Similar to standard library there are a selection of books on offer.
Once we all had decided which role we wanted to try and briefly prepared, Chris read a poem written especially for Human Library movements by the poet by John Welsh 2016,
IT IS GOOD TO TALK
Silence read the poster
Quiet was the command
Hush the words whispered
Study, read, understand
But now a new library has opened
Where words are said out loud
Talking, Living, human books
And vocal readers allowed
Come to Human books
And vocal readers allowed
Come to Human Library
Have stories all explained
Know from your close engagement
That understanding will be gained
The session was lively and engaging I had a go at being a book and a reader. It is incredible the flow and ease of the conversation and I was surprised by some of the things I said while talking about my book ‘The leaf’ and reading a colleagues book of returning to her home town in Ireland. Discussions were filled with laughter, support, sharing, encouragement and empathy.
The feedback was extremely positive, see the photographs of some of these.
In keeping with the fun and engaging theme of the session it was finished with a song
I’ll Tell Me Ma – The Belle of Belfast City
The concept is so transferable while I sat there I got excited about the potential of this approach with an intergenerational approach to address negative stigma on ageing or cultures.
Thank you Catherine, Chris and facilitators for an inspiring and fun afternoon.
For further information look at the website or the UK twitter site.
www.humanlibrary.orgor twitter #HumanLibraryUK (is in its early formation)
Written by Marie Barstow. @mrsbaistow
|……. continued from blog 10a
3. Role of technology : in transforming how care is delivered
While the title suggests this was the ‘main stage’ focus, it was not. No criticism intended just a fact! But for our profession this was a silver lining, an opportunity to unpick our core skills and see how they fit in the wider strategic directions and challenges. I did not feel compartmentalized to the “tech people” it didn’t box me in, rather opened up scope of opportunity and clarity on viable direction for the profession. It clearly highlighted technology is moving at a pace that is similar to sound …fast!!! It quite rightly challenged the question “are we technology ready”? The analogue is soon to be switched off which means the 1.7 million people in the U.K that currently rely upon a response to technological services that are connected to analogue need to have confidence it is fit for purpose.
Paul confidently demanded that as a society we need to absolutely know that internet protocol services are affective and responsive to not only offer a reliable response but also to maximize technology to enable people to live empowered and independent lives.
In keeping with Paul’s theme an indication of where Occupational therapists can not only make a difference but add value and impact is in within maximizing the potential and purpose of technology within the home and surrounding community. Paul quoted statistics that state in the very near future on average a household will rely and interact with 29 different internet based devices, the current figure is 8. While recognized to be a game changer and a place to develop innovative roles Paul urged Occupational Therapist to recognise core skills to be part of the development trend within this network.
He explained that the role of technology is to not only deliver, safe effective, responsive, enabling support but to deploy the bend the health care cost curve. Paul made a clear reference at this stage to the Royal College Of Occupational Therapy publication Strategic Intentions 2018- 2023 that outlines the professions commitment to developing practice that embraces technology advancements and preserves the foundation of the profession.
Paul cited Occupational Therapists as a profession that will utilise technology to promote purpose and function to support healthier lifestyles and wellbeing. I did of course afford him the lapse in language term as it is easy for a non-Occupational Therapist to use these terms and indicate we are promoting purpose. We know as an Occupation Therapist it is indeed Occupation, the doing that makes a real difference to the narrative that integral and vital for health, wellbeing and self-reported good quality of life.
4. Re-design Care
I would say a large proportion of the presentation incorporated the concept of a need for service re-design. Paul cited several factors such as the challenges and opportunities of extended longevity, funding, projected deficit in workforce supply, technology advancements and the heroic healthcare culture to “fix it” that are creating a re-think.
Paul proposed the question “Is it business as usual?” or” is it time for change”? He clearly presented arguments for the latter to be his personal and professional viewpoint. He called for a person centric not system centric approach, stating “we need to get it right now”. He believes our profession has the core philosophies, theories and values to lead on change and design pathways that seek to understand via a ‘wellbeing lens’ that supports preventative, enabling and purposeful approaches. Strong principles of ‘ what matters to you’ ? as the beacon of direction. He was not critical of the traditional biomedical model of ‘what is wrong with you?’ but proposed an overwhelming need to look at other more whole person models of care.
He stated an asset based approach in the care system is needed. He referred to Occupational Therapists as asset workforce, the expert professionals who skillfully bring a person’s occupational story alive. We find purpose, meaning and identity. He recognised our unique selling point is to understand participation, purpose and occupation and its value in engaging people with goal orientated interventions.
Paul advocated for change but called for caution to not take a” bolt it on” approach to redesign. Paul called for a rise in disruptors as opposed to disruptive, he saw our profession as key people who can prevent something especially a system or process from continuing as usual, he believes we should be relevant, strategic and implement our core skills upon change in the care system. He encouraged ambition!
In summary Paul delivered an obviously well-rehearsed, experienced, effective, diverse, informative, thought provoking, inspiring and jam-packed presentation that championed Occupation Therapy as the potential game changers to the challenges and opportunities with health and social care needs of the population.
For me it reinforced the value and impact of my profession. I believe passionately it works, my beliefs are so deep rooted they could be found at my cellular level! It highlighted we are change makers and must seize the moment to strategically plan services to embrace the need for understanding what matters to human beings, that we engage in interventions to understand and facilitate meaningful occupations, strife to put occupation in the heart of our communities.
Written by Marie Barstow
Any questions feel free to contact me on twitter: @mrsbaistow
|Presented by: Professor Paul Burstow
Paul most definitely had his three shredded wheat yesterday morning. The title did not do the content justice. Paul’s underlining direction of the multi-faceted presentation was ‘How will care be fit for the 21st century’? He emphasised that the design and delivery needs to both meet the challenges and the priorities of wellbeing, where quality of life is central.
Paul is extremely well placed and experienced to voice views on the direction and needs of social care service design. He was an MP for 18 years for two of those years (2010-2012) held the position of Minister of State for the Department for Health. He is current Chair of the Social Care Institute for Excellence and the CEO at Travistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust. He is also president of Telecare Services Association an industry body for technology enabled care. (https://www.tsa-voice.org.uk/paul-burstow-tsa-president)
Paul clearly presented his values and vision throughout the presentation which are valued based and co-production focused. He views Occupational Therapists as having instrumental key roles within the future he envisages.
I found it a real challenge with my dyslexic brain to write a summative blog on such a jam-packed session. I decided to group the four key areas Paul linked to his objective of the event.
Within the 40 minutes there were over 30 slides, I lost count! A 4min 30 second awesome video and nonstop well-paced and engaging narrative. It included endless stats and research findings, political trends, population profiles, food for thought, challenges on status quo and a vision of whole a person-centered approach.
The title never met expectation …it blew it out of the water. The core message was a ‘need for change, now ‘ and Occupational Therapists are the profession to take an instrumental lead and impact upon this if strategic, relevant and proactive.
Paul clearly understands the value, core principles and theories of Occupational Therapy. It never felt tokenistic, it was genuine and recognized the potential impact and growth for our profession. He actively encouraged ambition to lead on designing and co-delivering services that support intrinsic human need to be occupied in a meaningful and purposeful way.
There was effective use of pictorial slides which maximized the impact of each individual key take away messages. There where so many and most presenters would not be able to successfully execute so much content and take away messages, that delivers humor, engagement and buy in, but he di! My head is still buzzing a little from this but all good and inspiring.
He offered four key areas as the overarching themes that highlighted the challenges and opportunities for Occupational Therapists. These were :
A positive message he shared was to see an ageing population as an opportunity for the profession. Yes there is a profound change in age demographics that have serious impact upon health and social care provision, at the NHS’s100th birthday year (2048) there will be a 100,000 people aged a 100 and over in the U.K.
Paul proposed it would be forward thinking not to focus upon the challenges related to increased longevity and the related health and social care economic arguments rather recognize and acknowledge these challenges but focus upon the opportunities it delivers, especially to the profession of Occupational Therapy.
Paul presented a slide that depicted the 100 year cycle for a person of such age in today. The diagrams upon the slide illustrated a multi staged life filled with potential for multi journey options and experiences.
He referred to a recent trip to America where he met at a campus residing student of 80 years old. It was an alternative approach and vision of residential care. The student was healthy, happy and self-reported great quality of life. Paul noted our society values and extent of bias may be creating barriers to our own plans that facilitates an 80 year old student to life on campus as opposed to traditional residential care home.
Self-bias and society’s perspective on ageing needs challenging and exploring. There is evidenced to indicate that if you label a product towards an older person, the older person stops buying it. This suggests that societal views or bias about ageing is a barrier to wellbeing in later years or at least fosters self-bias to ageing. Research directly attributes this to a negative impact upon engagement and outcomes of services designed for Older People. I suppose simply put post 65 the client group deemed Older People can become their own internal demise towards intervention and valued occupations.
Paul was very clear longevity costs cannot be put off. Poorly managed co-morbidities and complex needs of older people vastly increase costs of care.
2. Safe Social Care
A ‘mind the gap’ slide clearly brought to the room the stark realization that by 2025 to just stay still, i.e. provide the current social care provision as now, there will be a 2.6 billion pounds short fall. Paul indicated research of fiscal studies shown there needs to be a 50% increase in gross domestic product from 1% to 1.5% to meet financial burden in social care.
Paul stated he felt this was wholly achievable but demands within the current political climate may not share his views. Paul strongly advocated for financial equity between health and social care, he clearly recognized the Nhs has its own funding demands ,he wished for a suitable70 th birthday gift in the means of funding for the astounding and cherished Nhs but equally noted while the Nhs” may get the cake, social care will inevitably get the candles”.
The whole presentation repeatedly made multiple reference to disproportionate social care funding, Paul stated that social care has lived within the shadow of health for far too long, him eloquently and arguably proposed funding for both needs of health and social needs are equally a priority going forward.
Paul offered the notion ‘ providing care HOW?’ While he did not deliver the answer he clearly delivered the message that there is potential for change to impact upon a person’s wellbeing, a life worth living not merely existing. He advocated for a proactive not reactive approach has to under pin and direct the future of care.
The demand for care workers is outpacing domestic supply- retention, recruitment and experience are ongoing challenges within the care sector. By 2025 there will be a shortfall of 1.83 million care staff in adult social care. Paul once again identified Occupational Therapist as the profession with the skills and knowledge to have a positive impact upon on these statistics. He is confident that the core Occupational Therapy skills can design successful recruitment, retention and educational programs at local and national level to not only deliver a skilled care workforce but promote the resilience and staying power a worker needs to exist and flourish within in such personally challenging work environments.
continued in Blog 10b……
Written by Marie Barstow
Any questions feel free to contact me on twitter: @mrsbaistow