Taking #OTalk Forward – OTNews Article October 2013.

Thought we would share the submission article which was published in OTNews October 2013.

Thank you to the wonderful OTalk Community. You are fab, looking forward to another great year.

Taking #OTalk Forward

Since November 2012, when OTNews first reported on the #OTalk community (OTN 2012), our online community of practice has gone from strength to strength. For example the last ten months have seen the #OTalk hashtag generating 14,575,845 impressions and 10,515 tweets from 718 participants.  

The benefits of engaging and developing a community of practice have been highlighted across a range of publications and events, including Patients First and Foremost (DOH 2013) which cited #OTalk alongside #WeNurses as Actions for Cultural Change. The BAOT Eastern Regional Group invited the #OTalk team to present about professionalism online and to run a social media surgery at their study day in May 2013. May also saw Elaine Hunter guest host an #OTalk in preparation for her Elizabeth Casson Memorial Lecture (Hunter 2013a).

We were delighted to have our poster exploring the development of online communities of practice (OTalk 2013a) accepted for the 2013 COT conference. This was only overshadowed by being cited by Elaine Hunter during the Elizabeth Casson Memorial Lecture (Hunter 2013b) in which Elaine discusses transformational leadership and refers to her experience of #OTalk as a real world practice example.

The #OTalk team always strive to remain responsive to the community’s wishes, which we believe will ensure that #OTalk is constantly developing and moving forward. This has resulted in recent changes with the hashtags previously used, #OTalk and #Occhat, now being combined and #OTalk used every week. This was implemented to simplify things for new members, however there is still a commitment to continuing discussions focused on aspects of occupational science (which were previously held using #occhat).

Another exciting development has been the introduction of a Journal (Media) Club, the format of which has been decided based upon a survey of the #OTalk community. The launch event on 3rd September 2013 received an enthusiastic response from the community (OTalk 2013b). The Journal (Media) Club will provide a mixture of topics, selected and hosted by the community. We are astounded to report we already have hosts confirmed until August 2014! A twitter chat will be held the first Tuesday of each month using the #OTalk hashtag from 8-9pm. However, a new development is for the discussion to have started via the blog comments feature for the preceding month. Thus providing the opportunity to engage at any time and not being limited to 140 characters, or familiarity with twitter. The tweet chat will be used to sum up discussions and introduce the next topic.

As usual, the #OTalk team are happy to support existing or new members of the community with all aspects of engagement. Please tweet us @OTalk_Occhat, or individually if you prefer: @Helen_OTUK, @GillyGorry, @kirstyes, @Clissa89 or @Claireot.


DOH (2013) Patients First and Foremost: The Initial Government Response to the Report of The Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry, Department of Health, London.

Hunter EP (2013a) Making the invisible visible (blog). Available at www.elaineahpmh.wordpress.com. Accessed 08.09.2013.

Hunter EP (2013b) The Elizabeth Casson Memorial Lecture 2013: Transformational leadership in occupational therapy – delivering change through conversations. British Journal of Occupational Therapy 76(8), 346-354.

OTalk (2013a) Levelling the Playing Field: Developing Online Communities of Practice (blog). http://otalkocchats.wordpress.com/2013/06/10/cot-poster-2013-otalkontour/ OTalk. Accessed 08.09.2013.

OTalk (2013b) Journal (Media) Club Launch (blog). http://otalkocchats.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/otalk-3rd-september-2013-journal-media-club-launch/ OTalk. Accessed 08.09.2013.

OTNews (2012) Talking the #OTalk. OTNews, 20(11), 42.

#OTalk/#Occhat – An Idea Whose Time Had Come

A group of Occupational Therapists (OT’s) had been participating in tweetchats including #phdchat (PhD researchers chat) and #nhssm (social media in the NHS) for some time. OTs had been utilising the #OTuesday hashtag to share insights into the daily activities of an OT. Chris Genter floated the idea of a more occupation focussed twitter chat.Once Chris suggested the idea, we felt the time had come to utilise the potential of Twitter and create an online public facing forum for talking about our practice and the theory that underpins it. A Twitter account, Facebook page and blog were set up in September/October 2011.

#OTalk/#Occhat was quickly up and running. The use of two hashtags enables a distinction to be made between chats that focus specifically on OT practice issues (#OTalk) and chats that explore occupational science issues (#Occhat). This has the added benefit of opening the discussion to a wider audience outside of the OT profession. The first #OTalk twitter chat, “Our identity as OTs and how we explain our role” was held on 25th October 2011. The following week, we launched #Occhat and explored Occupational Science and what it means to us. An archive of these and many more chats can be found on the blog.

Analytics from Healthcare Hashtags has shown that #OTalk has engaged 423 participants making 9423 tweets that have reached 8,159,709 people. #Occhat has seen 226 individuals generate 6780 tweets with 5,145,181 impressions. The numbers are very encouraging, however these do not demonstrate the value of the experience when joining in the chats. Here is what participants have had to say:

#OTalk and #Occhat have contributed to the development of a community of practice in a public forum. We love that this is such a mixed and diverse community in terms of experience and this is reflected in the make-up of the organisational team and participants.

So one year on and both #OTalk and #Occhat are going from strength to strength. The above comments from participants give a flavour of the wide ranging opportunities that participation can offer to individuals. Not least how social media can support and enhance continued professional development (CPD) activities. Oh yes, don’t forget it is free, you just invest a little time and be open to experiencing a supportive and welcoming community that loves to share.

We invite more people to get involved, suggest topics, write and share their own summaries or reflections, comment on the blog and let us know how #OTalk or #Occhat has impacted on practice and supported CPD. People don’t have to have a twitter account to get involved and we’d love to hear from those who have been lurking. As we move into the second year of #OTalk and #Occhat we are expanding into other social media platforms to support the twitter chats and provide greater opportunities to engage and promote the profession. So keep your eyes wide open and we look forward to connecting and sharing with you soon.

If you would like any assistance please contact a member of the team we are

Thanks to @gilliancrossley for artwork.

British Association of Occupational Therapy members can access the published article here OTNews November 2012.