Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Ripfa OT and Personalisation Event - Personalisation, Bob the Builder and me

As the Mum of a very nearly three year old I am surrounded by the world of Cbeebies. It never ceases to amaze me that I see occupational themes throughout this pre school programming. Thomas the Tank Engine - only happy (occupational satisfaction?) when being a very useful engine (occupational competence?), Timmy the lamb who learns through play...... I know, I know I need to get out more!

What has this got to do with Personalization you ask? Well I found my mind wandering to Cbeebies during the event. Not that I was loosing interest - far from it, it was one of the most though provoking events I have been to in a while. Let me try and explain.....

Firstly for a Personalisation 101 read this information from SCIE and look at this great selection of resources from Ripfa.

Personalisation, broadly speaking is the freeing up of funding streams and resources to allow clients to draw up a specification for support from social care services which is tailored to their individual needs. There was lots of discussion at the event that this creates huge opportunities for OTs to move to a position of "practicing what we preach". That is to say enabling clients to use the resources available to them in creative and flexible ways to facilitate occupational outcomes.

Back to Bob the Builder.....having worked as a senior practitioner in social care I often felt that the basic organization of social care was flawed. Clients were offered limited choices for support, occupational therapists were rarely involved in first line decision making about care packages and I often felt that the "care" offered had the effect of disabling rather than enabling the client ("here have a ready made meal delivered to your door vs here have support to be able to do this for yourself"). As someone who likes to think about how things could be changed for the better I asked myself "Can we fix it?" (see I told you we would get back to Bob!).

To be honest my initial response was that I wasn't sure it could be fixed. The juggernaut of public services has huge momentum which is very hard to redirect, in this case to strive rebalance power between client and gatekeeper. However my knowledge of the personalization agenda before the event started to give me some hope (Can we fix it?" Lofty - "Erm, yeah I think so").

The idea of individual budgets, self directed supported, support brokers etc sounded like it could be very exciting. But to be honest it all felt a bit nebulous. Pilots were happening in other parts of the country, but not where I was. I didn't really know whether the rhetoric about these opportunities would ever materialize into real change.

At the Ripfa event I was reassured to hear that other people were struggling to know how to take action on the opportunities offered by this agenda.

In order to try and fix something, pure rhetoric is insufficient, you need tools (as an Bob the Builder fan will know). Personalisation gives the Occupational Therapist a range of tools for the job of facilitating meaningful occupation. Our challenge is not to know right now everything about the options and mechanisms for personalisation, but the task is to think about clients who would benefit, and fire them up to make it happen. Ask difficult questions - why can't this happen? Be confident in our professional opinion. Make it happen. Practice what we preach.

Can we fix it? Yes we can.

(I will write another blog post next week about the impact of the personalization agenda for assistive technology)

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Well hello there world!

I know, I know, I said last time that I was back but this time I really mean it! I haven't been just sitting there you know, I have been doing more work for my MSc at Salford and plotting with TechOT among other things.

Its an exciting year with presentations at the COT annual conference, participating in a workshop for the WFOT congress in Chile.

Starting this blog was one of my first forays into web 2.0 in relation to my career. I was shocked to see how long it has been since I posted last. On tuesday I am helping out at the ripfa event in Birmingham which is looking at the impact of the personalisation agenda on the role of OT. I'm really looking forward to it, both because of the content and the social media that ripfa will be using to add value to the day. As part of that support I agreed to write about the event on my blog - only to find myself a bit red faced at the length of time since my last post.

So what has changed since I started the blog? Why has it fizzled? I think in part my greeness in launching into a series of posts, then realising I couldn't keep up the pace. Instead of making the blog a tool for me, I slipped into thinking it was a chore - something I had to do but wasn't really motivated to do.

Over the past few months I have used two channel - facebook and twitter. I find that facebook offers deeply personal interactions, while I have facebook friends who I have never met, I screen them carefully. In contrast on Twitter, I chat to anyone and everyone - follow and unfollow on a whim. So in effect Facebook is my "inner circle", my inward facing social media self. So if Twitter is by contrast my outward face then where does it leave my blog?

Well for things like this, reflections on issues that I want to post about. Post as opposed to short tweets, professional issues which would bore the pants of many of my fb friends.

I need to balance my online and offline life, and to recognise that I can't be everywhere at the same time!

Anyway I look forward to sharing my experinces and learning from Tuesday. Since first working as a senior practioner in social care when I came back from the US I have been a fan of ripfa, its a forward thinking and common sense response to the need of practioners on the ground to have a sifted and appraised source of up to date information. I also think that personalisation holds huge opportunities for our profession. So I guess they both fit my spec for "things to blog about".

Be right back!

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Getting back into gear.....

I've been a bit absent from my usual web life for the past couple of weeks. Sadly my beautiful Mum has been diagnosed with breast cancer. She's going through some surgery at the moment and hoping to start chemo in the next few weeks. Being on patient and family side of the healthcare equation for a change is not really where we wanted to be but I suppose its just a case on putting one foot in front of the other for now.....

Anyway life plods on and I have some new and exciting things happening.....

I'm really looking forward to doing a session on the MSc in Assistive Technology course at Coventry university in a couple of weeks. I'm talking to the students about assessment in my area of practice and what I'm hoping they will get out of it is the importance of all the contextual factors beyond the client themselves. By that I mean the ability of the persons environment (social and physical) to support their needs, and the influence of cultural aspects. Anyway this is a very brief post and I will write more after the session and maybe post the powerpoint.

Last week I was down at UK OT HQ aka COT/BAOT offices in London. I was recently appointed to one of the professional practice seats on the Membership and External Affairs board. I've been a member of BAOT for 12 years but never really taken an active role. Following the Disability Forum networking day I attended last year I really felt motivated to get involved, so after a gentle (and much appreciated!) shove from a OT colleague I applied for the role.

I had a really interesting day learning more about the board and the work of the OTN, BJOT and the website progress. It was good to be able to comment on the excellent projects underway. I was excited to be able to offer some opinions on how the organisation could make the most of media such as blogs, twitter and facebook to promote OT and membership. I was really pleased that people were very positive about my intention to use these channels to relate my experience as a new board member. As you might have guessed I think it will be so important to BAOT to use these tools to help current and potential OTs feel connected to their professional colleagues and their professional organisation.

Are there any BAOT members out there reading the blog? Leave a comment or tweet me to let me know your thoughts about how web2.0 could help you connect.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Occupational Therapy Blog carnival call for submissions

Your Therapy Source Inc. is the host for the next Occupational Therapy Blog Carnival. A blog carnival is a collection of articles on a specific topic. There have been two previously done on occupational therapy. All you have to do is submit your favorite OT blog post to the carnival at You must submit your blog article by Friday, May 1st. The OT Blog Carnival #3 is set to publish on May 4th.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

I don't want to make people independant: occupational heresy?

Occupational Therapists often talk a lot about independence and this often touted as being the goal of our intervention

"Occupational therapy is skilled treatment that helps individuals achieve independence" AOTA (don't get me started on how much a disagree with this statement!)

Independence is defined as "the state or quality of being independent" and independent as:

1. Not governed by a foreign power; self-governing.
2. Free from the influence, guidance, or control of another or others; self-reliant: an independent mind.
3. Not determined or influenced by someone or something else; not contingent: a decision independent of the outcome of the study.

If we (or more importantly our commissioners and clients) base goals on this definition
I believe that occupational therapy directed at independence is both outdated and naive. In reality I dont think the occupations in which we participate are rarely, if ever, truly independent.

Rather that what matters is the extent to which we have control over interdependace we share with others. I like (part of) the current wikipedia entry:
Interdependence is a dynamic of being mutually and physically responsible to and sharing a common set of principles with others... Two states that cooperate with each other are said to be interdependent. It can also be defined as the interconnectedness and the reliance on one another socially, economically, environmentally and politically.
Whats needed, in my humble opinion, is a review of our usage of the word independance an view shared with the authors of this paper who state:
"Independence has long been a key concept. A review of the literature shows that the term's meaning has shifted throughout the past century. However, despite its significance, the word's meaning has never been deeply analysed, and it is left to the interpretation of the individual practitioner; consequently, there is a conceptual confusion surrounding the term"
Thankfully I'm not alone in this viewpoint, Rosemary Hagedorn in her student staple textbook Foundations for Practice agrees but I'm not sure most OT have really evaluated the term.
You have to ask whether semantics really matter at all but to me it is important. Surely using the right language to define what we do must be key given the eternal OT struggle to explain our profession.

In light of the reverence the profession appears to give "independence" is it not well overdue that we make sure this is what we believe our intervention is aimed at?