Possible one of the most important votes of our life time? Just ensure it’s an informed vote.

The European elections on Thursday, the 23rd of May 2019, before I cast my vote.

With Brexit still an uncertainty,  this election is both crucial and possibly not crucial.  If we leave the European Union none of these MEPs will actually take their seats, But if we remain we need to ensure that the right people that represent us are elected.

The media are portraying this as a second referendum asking voters to make their choice purely on if you feel we should leave or remain in the European Union.

But it’s much more that than,  who our MEP’s are is crucial to how we play a part of the European Union.

You vote should not  be cast as part of some sort of personality contest, we’re not voting for the person we like the best with regards to leaders of particular parties,  leaders come and go but political party’s fundamentally have root’s within certain parameters of values and beliefs, that form political movements like

Socialism

communism

Capitalism

Marxism

Materialism

Fascism

Conservatism

Liberalism

Clericalism

Among others,

It’s easy for this to get lost in the British media,  who can often distort, or manipulate the truth.

So all I ask before you cast your vote on Thursday,  it to make an informed choice,  I have made that easier,  believe are links to most of your party’s that are standings manifesto for you to read,  and decide for yourself which one most represents you,  not which one you think you should vote for because of a rumour you heard or because our have always voted that way.

Eu manifesto’s

The women’s equality party
https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/womensequality/pages/6633/attachments/original/1557929876/EU_Manifesto_Updated_compressed.pdf?1557929876

Who are their candidates
https://www.womensequality.org.uk/eu2019candidates

Labour Party
http://labour.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Transforming-Britain-and-Europe-for-the-many-not-the-few.pdf

Who are their candidates

Our European Election Candidates

The Green Party
https://www.greenparty.org.uk/assets/images/national-site/eu-2019/eu-manifesto-online-19-05-07.pdf

Who are their candidates

Green Party European Election Candidates

Lib Dem
https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/libdems/pages/45093/attachments/original/1557342873/Liberal_Democrat_European_Election_Manifesto_2019.pdf?1557342873

Who are there candidates
https://www.libdems.org.uk/candidates-eu-elections

Conservatives – (no manifesto that I can find)
Who are their candidates

Exclusive. The full list of Conservative MEP candidates.

Brexit party – no manifesto (that I can find)
Who are their candidates
https://thebrexitparty.org/meet-our-candidates/

UKIP
https://www.ukip.org/pdf/EUManifesto2019-3.pdf

Who are their candidates
https://www.ukip.org/ukip-EU-candidates.php

Change Uk
https://voteforchange.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Change-UK-Charter-for-Remain.pdf

Who are their candidates

MEP Candidates

 

Brexit – despite the chaos we should still have compassion for others.

I voted remain in the referendum in 2017 and still feel the same.  I believe that immigration is both important and crucial,  to ensuring we grow as a country.

I understand that the European Parliament is not perfect,  but I believe it is better to be part of something,  that will  always effect us as a country and to influence it from the inside rather than powerlessly watch from the sidelines.   

I’m also passionate,  about human and women’s rights,  most of which are European laws,  and fear that the progress we have made will be lost,  in the transference of laws from the EU to the UK. 

I was pleased that the Scottish referendum voted to remain part of the UK,  and understand their frustrations and fears for Scotland’s future as they are being drag along in something,  their people did not vote for.

I’m also highly aware that the North (the place I live and love) voted overwhelmingly to leave,  I heard others say,  ‘they were sick of not being heard,  being ignored’ by what is seen to be a power centric London,  This may well be true,  but everyday,  I see compassion, kindness a willingness to develop, learn and a want to not to be forgotten or left behind, within this Northern population.  

I grew up in the 80s and 90s and remember daily news reports of Ireland’s troubles,  even being in a bomb scare myself once when visiting the national Science museum in London.  I fear that the good Friday agreement might be jeopardised, by a border, a backstop or a even just a pure lack of memory and understanding of Ireland’s history.  

Since my teens I have had an interest in politics.   I have never claimed to be an expert, but fundamentally I’m lead by a sense of human compassion, and ensuring that everyone regardless of faith, creed, race, gender, sexual orientation,  ability and class gets a fair chance in this world.   

Whether that’s through education, health, work, pay, or a safe place to live. But after 2 years of this brexit mess,  and after watching and being both fustrated and confused  by the amendments parliament have voted on this week. 

I’m beginning to think that parliament as a whole is old fashioned and out of step with modern times,  and the whole syteme needs revisiting to truly reflect and respect its Constituents.  I have no idea and little faith that this will happen.   But as MP’s across all party’s continue to play power and mind games with each other,  the people have lost  interest and patience.  History shows us,  when people feel  betrayed and not listen to,  their only option left is disruption!!!  

Which is something we really don’t need.   

I urge anyone that reads this post,  to only treat every person they come across, no matter how they voted in the last referendum with respect and compassion.   Let’s show parliament we can act like grownups and demonstrate that tolerance, kindness and a push towards equality is truly a representation of what it is to be British, and in turn European.  

When you know you know –  So we made rings.

fullsizeoutput_47c3Regular readers will know that in the last couple of years,  this blog has focused less on

Occupational
Therapy a more on my recovery journey after breaking my hemi leg.

This experience has change me in so many ways,  One of which was to begin to concentrate on me a little more and in my last blog post, I talked about how I had met someone, that I now planned to spend the rest of my life with.

I honestly never thought I would meet someone (sick buckets at the ready), that understands me, challenges me,  loves me faults and all, with such honesty, passion and  consideration.

Being in a committed relationship takes work and compromise.   (I’m still learning)  Marriage has never felt important and if I’m honest, I always saw it as a way to control women,  marriage is still full of traditions and expectations of which as a feminist make me feel very uncomfortable.

The idea that the man asks the woman’s father for permission,  then is expected to propose buying an expensive ring that the woman then wears as if she is now owned,  than thats the mans job over and the woman is expected to take over,  plan the day and look amazing in a white dress, feels so very odd.   But for Anthony as a Catholic and from a loving family where marriage is respected and worked on.  Showing the world that you are committed to this person is an act of love and respect.

It’s the social pressures and expectations that are the things about marriage on reflection I have an issue with, and when Anthony says I’ve been googling how to have a feminist  wedding,  you know you have landed with a good one.

We have talked at length about our hopes, wishes and desires,  we both want the same things,  and I’m now in a position,  where I feel comfortable with the idea of marriage,  as long as it’s done our way, and for us.

So I would like to say that today was an exciting day.   We recently made a joint decision to get engaged and eventually get married.  Today we attended a workshop and made each other rings to mark this joint decision, and a celebration of our future plans together.

We could not be happier.

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Broken Leg Part 4- Two Years on All Change. 

20th December 2015 will be a date I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Two years on I’m now at the stage, where I can reflect objectively on the experiences.  Those of you that are regular readers on my blog will know this is my 5th post on the subject.

https://otrach.com/2016/01/05/from-the-other-side-what-i-have-learnt-part-1-the-break-and-wait/

https://otrach.com/2016/03/31/the-broken-leg-part-2-what-does-independent-really-mean-do-prescriptions-differ/

https://otrach.com/2016/07/02/the-broken-leg-part-3-six-months-on-and-getting-back-to-work/

https://otrach.com/2017/06/29/loving-the-dead-leg-again/

My thoughts and feelings about the experiences have fluctuated, often due to the treatment I received when I initially broke the leg,  and the on going pain I have been in, but I’m also thankful for the experience.  It has made me re evaluate, what I want from life.  Two years on I’m in a better place than I was even before I fell down those pesky stairs.

Following on from the last blog — loving the dead leg again,  where I talked a lot about the pain I was in on a daily basis, I have had a further operation which removed scar tissue from my ankle.   This has made a difference,  I still have pain,  but there are some days where I’m pain free, and I can walk a little longer and tolerate standing up in the morning meeting at work.  Pain will always be a part of my life, I’m struggling to remember what my pain was like before, so I can’t really compare it.  But my weekends are no longer waisted resting in bed,  I have enough energy to do something.  Those that know me well will know during the worst times I would just say I want the leg chopping off,  and joked about chain saws, and what sort of blade I wanted to replace my leg.

I have a lot of people to thank, my family, friends readers of this blog who have often sent messages of support, and of course the OTalk* girls who have all been a consistent support.  I know I have not always been easy to get on with, at times shutting people out.

In my revaluation I looked at want I wanted from life,  and what I had already achieved and had.  The career I love, a home, close friends and family,  but no one to share this with.  With the support of The Otalk girls I ventured into the world of online dating,  something I would advocate, if you have ever thought about it,  it’s an odd world and you need to be careful.  I had some weird conversations and dates,  which created much amusement within the Otalk WhatsApp group.

Five months again I found someone very special,  who shares my hopes and dreams. He is caring, supportive and has quickly become a firm fixture in my life.

So without falling down the stairs I don’t think I would be in the place I am right now.  I hope to draw a line under this experience and move on to a new chapter.  I have recently become an Auntie for the first time and although I have fears about how my physical health impacts on my ability to help care for her, I’m learning every day.

If I have learnt anything its that Life is good – live it, you can always work around the barriers life throws at you.

Thank you for reading, Merry Christmas and Happy new year.

*OTalk is a weekly twitter chat planned and organised by myself and 6 other occupational therapist across the UK and Ireland. https://otalk.co.uk/about-2/

Loving the ‘dead leg’ again

I was recently listening to a woman’s hour podcast, in which the photographer and author Laura Dodsworth was being interviewed along with some of the models from her most recent book. Manhood the bare reality.  The book focused on one to one interviews with men and how they felt about their body along side a photo of their penis.  This is the second book in the series, in 2015 Laura published Bare Reality 100 woman — their breast theirs stories.

When I got home I ordered both books, as I flicked though them both (I have to confess I have not read them cover to cover.) There was plenty of interviews from cancer survivors or how changing the function like having a child and needing to breast feed changed the persons view of their bodies.  I came across one interview with a man who as spina bifida, he stated his impairment disables him when he interacts with society and states sexuality is more complex when you are disabled.  I began to reflect on how I feel about my ‘disabled’ body and in particular that leg, the right one the one that causes me all that pain.

Over the years I have explored how I feel about my leg, within poetry and a few years ago for an art exhibition at work.  I took a series of photos of my feet in various situations to reflect how different they looked and how I managed different occupations.  For this blog I have decided to revisit this idea.  As a child I used to refer to it as the ‘dead leg,’  but do I need to readdress my relationship with my leg and embrace it?

Its swollen, bruised, scarred, I don’t have an ankle,  it looks and feels odd,  its on my mind all the time as every movement I make is a painful reminder its still there.

Some days it tells be to stay in bed, other days I ignore it and carry on regardless,  but every now and again it catches me out,  with a good pain free day or a day of tears and feeling sorry for myself.

  • I hate that in makes me wear flat sensible shoes that don’t go with the outfits I would like to wear,
  • I hate that it sometimes stops me from doing the things I want to, need to or that I am required to do.
  • I hate that I have to rely on others, during this time.
  • I hate having to justify myself to health professionals as I go to yet another appointment that does not solved my problem.
  • I hate that people give me advise all the time as if you have not researched it and tried everything yourself.
  • Most of all I hate how it dominates my thoughts I feel the need to talk about it all the time —  it must be so boring for others.

But these are bad days and there not everyday.

  • I love planning out my day in detail to minimise the amount of walking,
  • I love a duvet day,
  • I love the unique insight into the world it gives me in particular how I look at each new environment, to work out how can I do this.
  • I love the comforting conversations its allowed me to have with others,
  • I love how it has brought me closer to friends and family,
  • I love how it forces me to think differently, and creatively,
  • And I confess I love the opportunities it gives me to talk about myself.

I’m not ashamed of my body the leg or any part,  it is what it is.  These series of photographs help me love the leg again.

 

My take on the Royal College of Occupational Therapists conference June 19th -20th 2017

IMG_6854What a fun, productive, motivating, challenging and tiring two days that was.

I try to draw out the positives in everything but today’s blog will start with a few negative points.

This was the first year, the now “Royal” college of occupational therapists held its conference in the IIC in Birmingham,  the venue is bright and modern, however the layout is confusing,  all areas are accessible but often using a lift rather than the stairs meant a longer walk,  which made getting to workshops within a timely manner difficult.  There was no pre booking for sessions before conference.  Many people were turned away, and often because of the distances and layout of the building,  you did not have time to get to another session. – My feed back to RCOT will highlight these two issues heavily.

This years conference sponsors also brought some controversy.  Capita, a company which carries out Personal Independence Payments assessments on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions.  Capita recently placed an advert in OT news which has upset some occupational therapists as it has used the tag line ‘This is what you trained for’.  Before and during the conference occupational therapists and those who have had experiences of PIP assessments have been using twitter and the hash tag #NotWhatITrainedFor, to express their disappointment with Capita’s association with the royal college.

Personally this relationship sits uncomfortably with me,  As a person with a disability still in receipt of DLA awaiting my letter for a PIP assessment,  but also as a occupational therapist who has worked with many people that have had poor experiences of the PIP assessment, which has caused unnecessary stress, and feelings of low self worth.  As Occupational Therapists we are best placed to assess how a persons disability/ mental health problem or learning disability impacts on the persons ability to function, and what level of support is required to live a life that is meaningful to that individual, but I don’t believe the PIP assessment system, uses evidence based occupation focused assessments to determined its out comes.  As Occupational Therapists we must advocate for those we work with,  in my experiences working with those with mental health problems this assessment has only added stress and worry and in some cases severe mental distress leading to a relapse and readmission to hospital rather them giving support.

I feel strongly as a profession and professional body we should be advocating for those we work with to ensure fairness. A slight word of warning tho,  I am concerned that some of what I have seen on social media condemning this relationship has become personal, towards those Occupational therapists that are employed by Capita.  Let’s learn from the recent general election campaigns,  and take a leaf out of Jeremy Corbyn’s book.  I encourage a constructive an open dialogue with the Royal College of occupational therapists about this issue.  But please I ask let’s not run a negative campaign that focuses on personal attacks.  This just distracts from the issue.

This year I funded myself which gave me the freedom to attend sessions and workshops that interested me and were not just purely work related.

The opening plenary – The first Keynote speaker was Paul McGee I’m guessing a professional motivational speaker, he is also known as the SUMO Guy. ‘Shut up and move on’ he told some funny stories and encouraged us to look for open doors, but in my opinion did not bring anything to the conference.   The second Plenary Speaker was Dr Winnie Dunn from the University of Kansas, she is  internationally known as an expert in the field of sensory processing in everyday life.  As a novice in sensory processing – this gave me a foundation in this theory.  She  emphasised not using sensory assessments to label clients based on their scores, and explained that every one has a sensory profile.  –  this is an area I know I need to learn more about.  – perhaps a challenge for this year.

Session 3 Education – Teresa Rushton from Coventry University – Understanding the experiences of occupational therapy students with additional support requirements, whilst studying BSc (Hons) in occupational therapy,  this was a small study with Occupational therapy students and their experiences whilst on placement.   Although its important to research and understand the experiences of students in this manner I found myself feeling disappointed that it focused on the negative experiences. It saddens me that 11 years on from qualifying, students and educators are still finding making reasonable adjustments for someone who needs it a challenge.  When will the profession recognised that those with disabilities have so much to offer?

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Session 24 – Introducing RCOT’s new career development Framework:  – this framework has nine levels of skills covering clinical, educational, research, or managerial roles.   The aim is to cover all possible kinds of careers in occupational therapy. This is a great resource one I need to spend some time mapping myself against. If your using this tool please let RCOT know what you think on twitter using the hashtag #RCOTCareerFramework.

Professor Diane Cox gave the Casson memorial lecture this year ‘Life as an occupational being’. She gave an overview of occupational therapy its origins and meaning, reminding us of the importance of occupation  “Occupation is as old as humanity” (Reed et al, 2012) and from Brock (1934): “Occupation is not a secondary matter. It is a primary need of an individual’s life”.  So we must keep occupation central in our practice and research. I was struck with a quote she shared from Elisabeth Casson in 1941- ‘rehabilitation needs serious attention at present’, does this quote still stand today?   Diane went on to explain although occupational therapy has been voted as the least likely job to be taken over by Robot’s, on the surface it can be seen as simple, she urged us to combat this common misconception by getting work and research then  Published Published Published!! If you would like to read more about this lecture please see the Otalk blog here.

IMG_6796One of the sessions I was most looking forward to attending was session 63 – Occupational Therapy – a feminist profession? – Heather Davidson from the University of Salford, explained there is very little written on this subject.  We explored the links between occupational therapy and feminism, that it was a movement started by women, to empower people.  However is it still seen as a white middle class profession for young ladies?  Some of the debate and conversation within the workshop turn to men in the profession and how they might feel in the minority –  which as a feminist I found frustrating.

 

Something else new this year and that I was looking forward to, was the occupation stations – these were hands on workshops exploring occupations like bird watching, crochet, bead making and origami. These were very popular sessions and unfortunately I could not get in to one,  however from twitter and chatting with those that did attend, they were excellent sessions – lets not forget our roots of doing things with people.

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Dr Jennifer Creek gave the closing plenary the empire strikes back ; learning from the practise of Occupational Therapists working in the margins, she as always was thought provoking  and challenged us to think about our practise – has it became static and have we lost our focus on occupation. Jennifer took us on a journey from the origins of our profession and the rise in women’s movement from the late 19th century, to what it is in present day,  she ask us to pay more attention to practice that is happening on the margins if we want to seek answers to some of the major challenges we face currently, and want to discover places where creativity happens.

We were then treated to a hilarious presentation given by Tina Coldham a mental health campaigner – last night an OT saved my life,  reminding us that talking with and discovering what is important to the person you are working with can really make that difference.

Julia Scott chief executive of the Royal college of occupational therapists them gave her usual take home message,  this year she urged us not to abbreviate our profession to its initials, She believes by using our full title this will reduce the confusion between occupational therapy and occupational therapist and also give us more standing within the medical community –  Julia I will endeavour to do this and have try to throughout this blog (however to save characters on twitter I will at times still use OT)

I get so much from going to conference and understand it is a privilege to be able to attend, however I would urge those that were not able to go to do two things,  check out the #COT2017 on twitter for all the goings on and to read blogs that were written live at the event – all available on the Otalk blog here.   For me as an OT geek its an opportunity to learn, be challenged but also to network and socialise with those friends I have made over the years,  and a time when some of us from the Otalk team get to see each other in person.

Although I learnt lots, my favourite was spending time with friends.  You know you have had a good night out when you wake up the next morning with a green balloon attached to your walking stick.

The broken leg Part 3 – Six months on and getting back to work.

For regular readers of my blog you will know I fell down the stairs and broke my right hemi leg just before christmas last year, however if your new to this blog you can read more here Part 1 and Part 2.

Since my last blog post a lot has happened, however the effects of the brake still have a an impact on carrying out daily occupations, and managing my emotions.

My biggest frustration has been foot wear,  my right foot and leg remain very swollen despite daily stretches and exercises given to me by the physio. This has limited me to one pair of shoes.  It surprises me how something as small as not being able to choose foot wear to match what your wearing or how you feel, can effect your mood.  I have not wanted to go to the pub with friends, felt I have not looked professional at work,  and just broke down in tears at the thought of needing to dress up.

One large change has been my bathroom, I have had a wet room put in.  You can read a blog I wrote about it here for Impey showers http://impeyshowers.blogspot.co.uk.  In short it has changed my life,  feeling safe in the bathroom, has given me my confidence back.  Plus it looks amazing.

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In the weeks leading up to returning to work I set myself a number of challenges to increase the amount of walking I was doing,  however the weather was rubbish so I had to be creative. Museums and art galleries were good spaces to use with plenty of places to sit for a rest.  The apple watch as come in handy again,  as you can monitor how much walking and exercised you do. I have used it to set myself targets and increase them weekly, I find it motivating.

I’ve been back at work for 6 weeks now,  the first 2 doing half days building up to full days, I’m now work 4 days a week.  I can walk around inside unaided however still feel the need to use a walking stick outside.  I’m trying to lift my foot fully off the ground to prevent tripping however I have had a few close calls and without the stick to support me I would a fallen again.

I missed work whilst I was off,  but found getting back into the routine difficult, I found myself forgetting things,  not being able to concentrate in meetings,  and overwhelmed with emails and new responsibilities.  I questioned if i could still do the job feeling inadequate most days. However my team has been very supportive, there were days I felt like not going in, but stuck with it.  By about week 5 these feelings of inadequacies began to lessen.

Last week I attended the COT conference in Harrogate,  a big challenge both physically and for my attention span.  I decided to take the wheelchair just incase I needed it,  but set myself a goal to walk as much as I could.  I felt a little stupid walking a round with an empty wheelchair, however there is no safer place to do that, than at an OT conference,  full of friends and colleagues from both real life and those I have met online.  I had lots of positive chats with people about my blogs and experiences, and as always the conference itself gave inspiration  and hope for the future of the profession.  I will return to work with fresh eyes to face to next challenge.  However physically it was difficult, determined not to complain I took pain killers, ploughed through and on the odd occasion had a quick cry to myself (but that currently is normal).

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The last six months as been one of the biggest challenges so far.  To readers I would like you to take away two messages.   Remember to work with the whole person,  assessing how whatever you’re treating them for effects them both physically and mentally.  Trauma no matter how small can have lasting effects,  the trauma might not just be the event that started off the need for your input, it can also be the process of getting through it,  don’t be part of the trauma be part of the recovery.

Rachel x