Day 44…

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An early blog today! I am just getting ready for a day at work, then as soon as I’m finished, ill be heading to the airport to meet my family. It is mid-term at school this week, so today is the last day in school until Monday. I am looking forward to a few days off to engage in some leisure occupations. I will blog as much as I can over the next few days!

It is looking very cold and wet outside, lets hope it brightens up! 

NOTE TO FAMILY: So glad you’re going to be here! 

Day 43… (planning)

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Hello OT world. A very enjoyable, productive yet tiring day today. Firstly, went to work and had a good day, really feel like I’m starting to make some progress on placement  now. Then I had a short supervision with my educator and then off to the clinical skills lab to access the Movement ABC and mark the assessment. This took us about an hour, I hope marking standardised assessments becomes easier with practice. Then we collated together our child’s strengths, needs and occupational interruptions, this has given us a clearer picture of what his goals are and how to plan for future interventions.

After this we had peer supervision. Again I emphasize the benefits of having peer supervision, it has helped me develop as a professional, having a greater understanding of my own strengths and needs and being able to identify others strengths and needs and discuss them professionally has been a good skill to learn. I feel being open and honest has made out working relationship very effective.

My strengths as identified by my peer:

  • My peer feels, I have a good problem-solving ability and I am able to identify strategies to support children to carry out different occupations. For example, today recommending a child changed their posture to improve seating and be able to complete table top work on side of his body he was leaning away from.
  • My peer feels I have been supportive to work alongside which I felt was very kind thing to say and demonstrates we have a good working relationship.
  • My peer stated that she felt I relate to the children in a very empathetic way and this shows that I can understand how they are feeling. She gave the example of when we were completing clinical observations and during the ocular motor control one (follow eyes with pencil) I asked the child if he had ever been to a magic show and could we pretend to hypnotise each other, firstly, we hypnotised him then he hypnotised us. My peer said that the child seemed to really enjoy this and to him it seemed like a game. I was pleased with this feedback and pleased to know my peer felt it was a suitable technique.

My needs as identified by my peer:

  • We both agreed the need to communicate with each other in all aspects of placement to ensure effective practice, for example, yesterday when we were cutting the donkey, neither of us told the other how best to cut the donkey out and this led to confusion.
  • My peer advised me that my organisational skills are a great strength of mine but occasionally can became an area for development since at times if I have something organised, and it does not go to plan I can become stressed. I need to increase my flexibility when situations change and not let this cause intrinsic stress.

I really related to this because its true of my personality too. I tend to plan things exactly how I feel will be best for a given situation and if things don’t go as planned I can become stressed, anxious and at times disheartened. If I became more flexible and less rigid with organisation I feel it would benefit me as an OT practitioner and a person. Once qualified and whilst still on placement, situations will change and plans will alter, but actually that’s ok. I think if I work on this, it will make me a more relaxed person and a more effective practitioner.

Sad to have not participated in OT4VX today but I hope all our global colleagues have enjoyed it. I may try to check in a little later if I finish all my work off.

NOTE TO FAMILY: I know you will be laughing reading this Mum, as you know how much I like to plan my life and everything that happens. You’ll know more than anybody how much being more flexible will help me. My boyfriend and his mum arrive tomorrow yippppeeee!

Day 42… (cutting donkeys)

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Today has been a good day.

I started off by providing an LSA with some information leaflets on safe moving and handling techniques. It was a good experience and I felt I was able to support this LSA to find out new information, she was very appreciative and this felt like a good example of effective inter-professional relationships.

This afternoon we spent some time with our tutor before she returns to the UK, it was great to spend to get to know somebody that is so influential in OT practice and somebody that I truly admire. She has achieved so much both professionally and personally. She is intelligent and has a great OT charm, do you know what I mean by this? Learnt a lot meeting up this afternoon, but its hard to know exactly what.

Cutting donkeys? You are probably wondering why this relevant. Whilst on our journey home from meeting our tutor, myself and my peer were reflecting on some of the challenges of being on placement together.

We explained how it is a challenge working so closely with somebody however we felt it would benefit our practice and make us better practitioners. An example of the challenge, came earlier when we where cutting out a giant donkey to play pin the tail on the donkey as part of the sensory motor group.

To set the scene we were running a little late, the group starts at 8.15am on a Monday morning and we had approx 20 minutes to prepare the donkey. We printed out a large image that was spread over 4 A4 pages, we planned to cut out the donkey and stick it to card. We each took a piece of the donkey and started to cut, my peer was just trimming the A4 page, whereas I was cutting around the edges of the actual donkey. We ended up having to rip parts of the paper off to give us enough time to start the group on time and both became a little abrupt with each other. Not in a mean way, we just both quietened down and were both agitated. Communication had been a problem here, neither of us told the other how they were going to cut the donkey and this led to a wonky donkey. We were really laughing about this situation on the way home, as it is just our personality difference that encouraged us to cut the donkey differently and it really was not a big deal. I have found, one of the difficulties of working closely with somebody, is letting go of responsibility. I had to accept that my way of wanting to cut the donkey we did not have enough time for and this was challenging.

As silly as it seems, it was a challenging situation but one we both really learnt from, reflected on and will now adapt for the future. Things like this, I could have never learnt without sharing a placement with somebody. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to know develop my practice and have more insight into letting go of responsibility.

NOTE TO FAMILY: You can’t appreciate the sunshine, without a little bit of rain.

Day 41…

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I am nearly at my half way point and part of me feels like I am only really just getting started. Its strange that, but I think its because I haven’t seen a child for a full assessment yet. I have been kind of continuing on from where others left off and used their recommendations for my interventions. We have also been running a lot of sessions and this has helped, understand the children, build up good rapports with the teachers and identify areas of the school where assessment or intervention would be beneficial.

It is only a short week this week, because then we have a short half term. In my few days this week, I am hoping to have an introductory assess with my two children, possibly make contact with their parents. Then after half term we can complete a full assessment and start intervention and evaluation process.

Lots of research needs doing so I better scoot!

NOTE TO FAMILY: Received a great text from Uncle D tonight, much appreciated thank you! Just 3 more sleeps and my boyfriend will be here with his mum! Very excited to see them!

Day 40… (WORLD OT DAY 2012)

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40 days and 40 nights have past and they finish on World OT day 2012, what a great coincidence! 

I have celebrated the special day in my profession by attending a seminar as part of an OT weekend. I  had a great time today, learning about making splints, MENTe head band, deep brain simulation and OT in oncology.

Another way of celebrating was to write this poem:

Occupational Therapy…

Coming together across all nationalities…

Celebrating our profession and multi disciplinary identity…

Undergraduates, postgraduates and professionals…

Participating in OT promotion and CPD…

Altogether we collaborate…

Talking, thinking, telling…

Inter-professional teams and relationships…

Occupationally focused & client-centred across the lifespan for each and every service  user we meet…

Now we look to the future…

And all we can achieve…

Long live Occupational Therapy!

I hope you enjoy! I would like to wish every OT out there, every OT student, everybody thinking about a career in OT and most importantly every service user that has ever had an OT, every service user that will have an OT in the future a very special World OT day! I would also like to thank everybody that has made my OT training such an amazing experience, lecturers, peers, educators, technicians, MDT teams I have been apart of and again most importantly service users. For without you, I would not be able to make my day everyday!

A huge thank you to Linda Harrison (@dailyskills on twitter) for including me in the ‘Blog carnival today,’ I am very grateful. Please see Linda’s post on exploring balance, she includes various OT blogs from across the globe: http://www.lindasdailylivingskills.com/2012/10/blog-carnival-celebrating-world-ot-day.html.

NOTE TO FAMILY: This journey would not have been possible without your support! Thank you.

Day 39… (OT Collaborative Team Working)

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Since working in a school setting I have been building inter-professional relationships with staff, children and parents. As well as other OT students conducting research at the school and working in teams during clinical skills on a Friday. The main inter-professional relationship has been with my peer, we travelled from the UK together and work together during all our sessions on placement.

One of the biggest differences from this placement compared to my previous placement is that my educator is not employed as an OT but actually is a highly qualified OT with managerial experience, now employed as an INCO meaning inclusion coordinator. Our educator uses her OT skills for her role as an INCO and she keeps her OT registration up to date, uses OT frames of reference and models of practice, however, her employment status means part of her role includes being part of the senior management team. It is clear to see in the school that there is regular OT input at a high level, this is evident through the sensory motor room being on site and a multitude of sensory equipment and resources in regular use.

Another aspect of the INCO role is attending all IEP (individual education plan) meetings, if our educator was employed as an OT, the likelihood would be that she would only attend IEP meetings of children that were currently in receipt of OT. Having INCO on SMT ensures all children with an IEP and their families benefit from OT input, advice and recommendations that will help the children to engage in the school curriculum.

This means that ‘OT’s students in this setting have a responsibility to promote the profession and philosophy of OT. The CAOT (2002) define the OT role in school as “improving the student’s performance of tasks and activities important for successful school functioning,” (p15). I feel I have taken on this responsibility by building effective relationships with teachers and especially LSA staff. A lot of the children I have supported, I have been able to make recommendations to LSA, they implement strategies with the children and then we evaluate together. Collaborating with teachers is fundamental to effective OT within schools and ensures holistic practice (Rodger & Zivani 2006).

Some aspects of working collaboratively have been difficult, largely communication. The teachers goals and OT goals can often be different and as a student on placement you can feel reluctant about expressing too much what the OT goals are, as you feel the teacher has superiority over you. As I reflect upon this, I feel when working collaboratively, nobody has superior or inferior roles, but you work as a team and try to do what is in the best interest of the child, thus ensuring client-centred practice. Kennedy and Stewart (2012) have identified that there is often a leader within collaborative teams, it is usually the person with most experience, they felt children’s goals are devised by a team of people; child, teacher, family and OT. Their study showed in Australia that OT, teacher relationships are mostly positive especially if a good rapport is built initially. Kennedy & Stewart (2012) recognise a potential barrier could be that teachers can be defensive and reluctant to change. However, I feel with keeping communicate effective and remaining client centred this will be a good start to effective collaborative working within a school setting.

For me, this placement has taken place in a new country. Luckily for me the language has not been to much of a barrier since English is used regularly world wide and the schooling in mostly English. The main impact language and culture have had on collaborative team working, is extending the time it took to build a rapport with OT students in clinical skills and with the teachers at school. I say this because, it takes longer to understand the humor of other cultures, initially understanding new accents was difficult and I am aware that people found it difficult to understand mine on occassions. It has also been challenging when colleagues are having a conversation in their own language around you and you cant understand.

Peer supervision has been a great way of reflecting upon these challenges, especially since we are going through similar experiences. Working so closely with somebody, it has been really important to have supervision together, in this open, honest time we explore each others strengths, needs and areas for development. Knowing you can be completely honest with somebody to me helps build trust and trust is an asset to an effective collaborative working team. Stewart (2012) will agree with this and he explained the benefits of reflection as health care students.

This is an interesting topic with lots of evidence to explore, let me know if you have any thoughts on collaborative working in a school setting.

NOTE TO FAMILY: Lush chat with mum tonight on the phone! Hope you feel better soon, make those sniffles go away!

References

CAOT (2002) How occupational therapy makes a difference in the school system:A summary of the literature. Available at: <http://www.caot.ca/pdfs/otinschools.pdf> [Accessed: 26.10.12]

Kennedy, S .,Stewart. H, (2012) Collaboration with teachers: A survey of South Australian occupational therapists’ perceptions and experiences. Australian Occupational Therapy Journal (2012) 59, 147–155

Rodger, S. & Ziviani, J. (2006). Occupational therapy with children:
Understanding children’s occupations and enabling participation.
Oxford: Blackwell.

Stewart, J. (2012): Reflecting on reflection: increasing health and social care students’ engagement and enthusiasm for reflection, Reflective Practice: International and  Multidisciplinary Perspectives, 13:5, 719-733

Day 38…

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Day 38 on my final placement, how is the time going so quickly! Half way visit yesterday filled me with some confidence that things are going in the right direction.

My feedback was that I am quite analytical and ask lots of questions in the quest for more information. I was pleased with this feedback as I do ask a lot of questions and I am glad it is not too much.

It is good to have positive feedback when you know you have been trying very hard. Out tutor was pleased that we are doing peer supervision fortnightly and she said this is a skill/technique that is very common in practice.

I am feeling closer & closer to becoming an OT everyday!

NOTE TO FAMILY: That is your influence Dad, always saying to me “a smart man asks questions.”