13th May 2014 – ‘OT Bread and Butter’


Rachel (@OT_Rach) will be hosting an #OTalk on 13th May 2014 at 8pm BST (click this link to check your local time) about occupational therapy core skills. She would like to use tweets from the chat to inform a presentation at the OT Show this year.

If you don’t want your tweets to be used in this way, please contact Rachel before/during the chat to let her know. 

OT Bread and Butter

I have been approached to present at the OT show this year, in thinking about what to present, I decided on occupational therapy in acute psychiatry as that is my”bread and butter” having worked in this area for most of my career to date.

This saying “bread and butter” got me thinking more about what is the bread and butter of OccupationalTherapy and is this practiced within acute mental health.

Firstly what does bread and butter mean? Below is a dictionary definition

Bread and butter


1. (modifier) a means of support or subsistence…

View original post 137 more words

Disability within Occupational Therapy, other Health Professions, and their attitude towards it.

I am told when I was born there was a complication which meant I did not get the oxygen I needed to my brain, resulting in a disability namely Cerebral Palsy or a Hemiplegia which affects the right side of my body, with weakness and limits my range of movement.  Later when struggling with reading and writing I was also diagnosed with dyslexia.  In most recent years I have had some depression requiring medication.

However I’m not sure in my every day life I would describe myself as disabled, that is dis able to do the things I need to do, to live (there are some I would like but will come on to those later)

As an Occupational Therapist I know it’s my environment, coping strategies and attitudes from others, that makes me not dis able to do the things I need.

For example a stranger coming it to my home would see nothing out of the ordinary. However a trained eye would notice two different sofas in the living room one much higher than the other; a bathroom with no bath instead a walk in shower, a bed at the right height for me to get off, and a car that is automatic with its accelerator on the left hand side.  My dyslexia and depression are managed with copying strategies and problem solving skills.

But when I come out of my regular environment that’s when I become disabled. 

As I write this blog I’m on holiday in the Lake District with my family.  We are staying in a lovely cottage, however I can’t get off the low sofa without assistance, much to my brother’s amusement.  There is the most amazing looking Jacuzzi bath, which I’m dying to try, but I know I would struggle getting out (I have goggled hiring a bath lift, but its to expensive for a one off.)

Coming on this holiday last minute was quite out of character for me, that is to say going on a holiday that someone else has planned is not something I normally do.

When others look at cost, location in relating to beauty spots etc.  My first question is what is the furniture like? Is there a walk in shower? Can I park near by and use the car for most journeys? Will I have space of my own?

This is my coping mechanism and having as much control of the unexpected makes me feel more able.

Being invited to social occasion like friends birthday nights out, hen do or wedding should be something I look forward to and don’t get me wrong I do, but my first thought is still always, right how to a get around this unfamiliar experiences with the lest amount of fuss and not pointing out I’m different (this I think is related to insecurity, I strongly believe I should not be ashamed of how I need to do things differently)

So what is my point, Occupational therapists are taught to think from the perspective of the person with lived experiences in order to problem solve.

Or at least have to tools to truly assess the impact of a disability on a person life including how this will change, over time.  Other Health Professionals also are requiring to work holistically seeing the whole person not just the problem.

I’m using the world disabled in its broadest sense.

There are lots disabled Occupational Therapists and other Health Professionals.  I have had the privilege to meet many, and in my opinion they are a great asset to health and social care.

So in settings of health care and in particular the OT profession that prides its self on working within the social model, seeing the whole person, enabling coping skills, grading and adapting the environment to embrace disability.  You would imagine this would be a prefect profession to have a disability and be accepted.  Sadly in my experience and in the experiences of others I have met, this is not always the case.

As a student I had a mixture of experiences in placement areas, from the disability being ignored completely with no reasonable adjustments, to others over compensating and making assumptions about the levels of work I might be able to do.

Since qualifying I have been lucky enough to work in supportive teams, which has made reasonable adjustments, mainly help with my dyslexia, which I see as the biggest day-to-day challenge during work.   However I have heard negative comments from others about me using the lift, or questioning my being able to escort a patient.

Apart from a limp, at a glace my physical disabilities is hard to see but once disclosed I have seen, surprise and attitudes change, again often making assumptions.  I’m still struggling with disclosing my recent mental health problems in some circles due to stigma I feel at times with in the work place.

I guess writing this blog and putting it out there for people to read is easy then talking about it at the moment, however I am hoping and feeling this will change.

My question to you the reader is how to we recognise the need to act, improve attitudes and embrace the great wealth of experience us disabled OT’s and Health Professions have to offer Health and Social Care?

In March myself and fellow OT with a disability will be hosting a #Otalk looking at Occupational Therapy Professionals with a disability – What is a reasonable adjustment for a student with a disability?  Please do join in.

Thank you for reading – and here’s hoping I have seen all the spelling a grammar mistakes – apologies for those I have missed.

Advice on how to get a band 5 OT Job

So I read @OTtwehy post for her #OTalk on the 29th of October, preparing for OT interviews, and @clissa89 also asked me to write a post ready for this talk as a person who as interviewed on many an occasion. (Mostly band 5’s)

I first want to go back to the Emerging OT Student Conference in May this year, held at Carlisle University. At this event Leslie Crichton presented 50 things you should know before applying for your first job as an Occupational therapist. This presentation was just brilliant, I agreed with all her comments some really suck in my mind as common mistakes people make, this is something I going to share with you along with a few of my own experiences.

My first piece of advice is to put yourself in the short listing person’s chair.

Most NHS jobs get lots if not 100s of applications, my NHS Trust tends to close applications early once it has hit a certain number of application forms; I tend to ask for 50. So even if a job says it will be up for two weeks it might close early if there have been enough applications, this can also the case if it does not give a closing date and remember Band 5 posts do attract a lot of applications.

This means you need to work fast, however, please do not make one of the worst mistakes by having a generic one size fits all application form.
Start by saying which job you are applying for this shows the reader you are interested in that job. If I had a pound for every time I read an application form that somewhere stated “I would really love to work in orthopedics” – a different job than the one they were applying for I would be able to retire.

Getting back to putting yourself in the seat of the person doing the short listing, reading 50 applications is a tiring job, so you need to stand out. Before reading the application forms the people short listing will have put together criteria of what they are looking for in application. They will take this from the job specification, so make sure you read it and try and work out what they are looking for, also ensure you have all the essential criteria as if you don’t this is an easy way for the you not to be on the shortlist.

For example HCPC registration is an essential – when I qualified many organisations would take you on as an assistant until your registration came through, however this is not the case anymore in many areas,

My second piece of advice would be to get your HCPC registration sorted fast, get the forms before you get your results fill them in and get your GP to do their bit then ask the university when the HCPC will be getting the results so you can send the application form off as soon as results are out.

Advice number 3 avoid a list of annoying things people put in application forms such as –

1. Putting placements down, as past employment – these are not past employment
2. Using words like enthusiastic, dedicated, passionate, when you have read 20 application forms all starting, ‘I am a enthusiastic, passionate and dedicated OT’ it begins to get on your nerves – anyone can say it you need to prove it. This should shine through without having to use the words.
3. Writing an essay in your application form – I don’t have the time to read that – you need to get across your experience and what you bring to the post and how you meet the specification concisely and without repetition. I don’t need a list of everything you did in every placement, rather how your placement experience and skills can be transferred into becoming a newly qualified practitioner and fit this post.

Advice number 4 don’t forget your key OT words
Occupation, Function, meaningful and purposeful activities – I read many applications that could be for anything – they don’t mention OT.

Ok so you have the perfect application form which should get you shortlisted – now it’s time for the interview.

This piece of advice is very personal, but I like it if applicants I have short listed contact me personally before the interview for an informal chat or request to look around. This shows a genuine interest and will allow you to be more comfortable with who is interviewing you and if you can get to look around have an idea or where your might end up working.

The interview advice

My first thought is again one of Leslie Crichton 50 pieces of advice – don’t show your knickers to the interview panel – you may laugh but it does happen – think about what your wearing, and practice siting down in it gracefully.

So the questions – these will very much depending on the job and area you are being interview for, so lots of preparation is a must.

Mistakes made – when asking the question what national legislation and advice is out there that impacts on you as an OT – don’t say, well this is hard question cos there is not a lot out there for OT – er wrong. There will be recent legislation relating to your area of work, there will be NICE guidance, there will be information about governance and recent changes in health and social care. Research, research, research before the interview.

Many organisations will send you additional information in your interview pack perhaps about their expected values and behaviours – be familiar with these, there may be a question about them. They will also expect you to know something about the organisation so research this – they will have a website.

I always ask a question about how would your friends and colleagues describe you, I’m looking for good insight in yourself here – I don’t believe people that just give positive answers, I would describe myself as lots of positive things but also highlight I’m not someone who likes to be rushed, and these are the strategies I have in place to combat this. Showing you are not perfect as no one is but demonstrates you can fend for yourself, and know and are willing to work on your limitations.

Models – be open an honest don’t try to fudge this, do your research and explain which ones you have had the opportunities to use on placement or in previous jobs but demonstrate that you would be open to use and learn others.

The dreaded presentation – many places steer away from this as it may give them an idea of your presentation skills rather than ability to do the job. But if you are asked – practice it well, speak to slides with minimal information rather than read lots from overcrowded slides. Make sure you keep to the topic and the time limit. You may be asked to send it in before the interview for governance reasons.

Mentioning clinical and information governance – be sure you understand what this is any your role in it – it’s a popular question area.

Make the most of anything you have achieved or been involved in as a demonstration of your skills – e.g. if you have been involved as student representative or in the professional body

Your PDP and portfolio – do use this in the interview, if a question come up that you have a reflection for example show this- but don’t take forever to find it – use a posit note for items you think might come up is one recommendation. To locate the reflection fast

Have some questions to ask – prepare several and avoid those that have already been dealt with in the interview. Just use those that are appropriate – do ask about development opportunities but don’t give the idea that you expect unlimited outside courses early in your career. Your early development will be to consolidate your knowledge and skills.

Do ask about supervision and preceptorship if they have not already asked questions about it.

During the interview – make sure you engage with all the interview panel, eye contact, and appropriate smiles – a tip is to look round and include them all in an answer – not just to look at the person who asked the question.

Reflection on #Otalk about OT and Politics

I grew up with a family heavily involved in politics, Childhood memories are of Labour Party meetings and barbecues happening at the house.  Both my parents have been local councilors in their time.

My brother was equally as passionate about politics doing his degree in politics. However I only joined the party after the last election, feeling dishearten and passions reignited.

I think I learned quite early on had a different understanding from my friends about politics.  As children we were encouraged to watch the news and engaging debates.  I’m dyslexic and remember struggling greatly in English, apart from the days that we got to debate. I gained a much higher mark in my oral English than I did for written.  I think this is why I really enjoyed RE and drama as well.  I remember painting the scene of Tony Blair and Cherie outside number 10 when they won the election in 1997 for a GCSE art piece, (It was not very good.)

Daniel my brother has a much greater understand of the ins and outs of politics, a lot more than me and I enjoy learning from him often he has to explain complex films plots to do with historical politics!

Have I found in the eight years of being a qualified OT that my political persuasion has impacted on me as an occupational therapist?  I guess that’s a hard question, thinking back to being a student and having a placement in a prison, I found I was open-minded to the people I was working with, trying to separate, the person and the index offence.  I remember having conversation at the time about this with friends and fellow students that felt they could not to that, is that political persuasion? a sign of being left-wing?, or how I’m taught to think as a OT?

I do understand though that your political persuasion needs to be put to one side when you’re working with service users.  And have wondered whether it is correct for me to be open about my political persuasion with colleagues and service users.

Saying that’s I found it quite enjoyable being involved in the strikes over pensions.  At first being the only one in the team prepared to strike, however once I had spent some time explaining my reasoning and show the team some evidence about the effects, some did join me. I look back on that day with a smile on my face. I felt that we were embraced by the public, people stopped in the street and one person stopped with sandwiches and coffee and another some cakes.

I’ve also found in my career that services users power works quite well sometimes trying to get something changed it if you was a member of staff highlight issues it doesn’t always get seen to if you encourage service users to write letters of complaint about the things that are upsetting them that often gets noticed.  For example I remember having network issues for service users computer access. I had been trying to get it sorted will little luck, however once we help service users write letters of complaint about the fact that they couldn’t access this service, this appeared to help and things moved along they made the difference.

Tonight #OTalk reinforced my feeling that political understanding within the general public is lacking.  I really feel that politics should be taught at school even in its simplest form  – just understanding the difference between a councilor and MP understanding what the different parties stand for.

But tonight help me really understand and think about how much politics impacts what I do and influences the experience that services has

An Example I thought of during the chat was around the current bedroom tax and the impact that might have on a mental health service.  I can think of one lady that I’ve worked with who has lived in the house she was born all her life, now living there alone she has a serious mental health problems and the impact of having to move out of that house, Has resulted in a hospital admission surely the cost of what’s going to be a long hospital admission offsets what ever the government would have saved from moving her to a smaller home, in to an environment she was unfamiliar with, which in turn impacts on her occupational wellbeing. Also the recent cuts that councils are having to making has resulted in some of them closures of supporting living for people with mental health problems, resulting in the NHS hospitals struggling to find places to move people on to of our inpatient units again adding to costs!

I guess tonight talks has reaffirmed how important the political agenda is, as occupational therapist have a role in helping politicians and policy makers have a real understanding of people as occupational beings and how the changes that are made impact on people who are in need.

PS don’t even get me started on disability Benefit