New Years Greetings

I am having a new year tidy up before life gets busy again. I am not going to say I have a new years resolution to post more as that is most often the best way to ensure it doesn’t happen! So I am going to apply some occupational therapy wisdom (not sure occupational therapy can own it, but we do use it a lot with clients) ‘”start with small steps and you will be surprised at the opportunities and possibilities that unfold”.

Todays small step is to tell you that we are about to do some work upgrading the website  Please go and look at it and give us your thoughts on what is useful and what could be developed further, or things that you think should be there that aren’t etc. There is a feedback tab on the site.

Happy New Year, may 2013 through your actions be one to remember positively.

Everyday made easier

Hannah and Rachel third year students at Otago Polytechnic have just completed a 3rd year project. If you have read my posting titled ‘Total hip replacements and occupational therapy’ you will know that I was surprised by how little information was on the internet that had an occupational therapy perspective. The website they have created was designed to help address some of these issues.  Website is called: Everydaymadeeasier

designed for people who want to carry on taking part in their daily activities while waiting for surgery, recovering from surgery, living with physical injury, or living with a long-term physical condition.

so go and check it out, and if you think others would benefit from the information send the link on. They are keen to gain feedback on what you liked about the website site and what you would like to see developed or improved.

It’s been a long time between posts!

I’m a bit surprised to see how long it has been since I last posted. Life must have been busy!

As the regular visitors to this blog will know I work at Otago Polytechnic. In the last two weeks I have been lucky enough to have been at our third year student conference called Kiwi-IngenuOT. Where the students all present using blogs, posters, podcasts, video’s and aural presentations. The conference saw an amazing range of topics combined with great use of the mediums to get their message across.

Then today I got to hear our second year students presenting about the fieldwork placements they have just returned from. It reinforced the incredible range of things occupational therapists do and therefore the range of placements on offer for students. It was great to see their grasp on the value of meaningful occupation in people’s lives.

Whilst we are on the topic of student work, watch this space, I have been the sponsor of a third year project and am looking forward to being able to link you into the work they have been doing.

Hopefully the next posting will utilize one of the half written posts sitting in the drafts section of this blog🙂

Total hip replacements and Occupational Therapy

I have a vested interest in this post. I am about to have a total hip replacement. I decided that it was time to get up to date with the latest does and don’ts and to see what online advice is out there. I was interested to see how well occupational therapy was using the internet to advise those needing surgery. What have I found?

Interesting there is little change in the advice since I trained 30 years ago.

What did I find and what did I expect to find:

  1. I expected to see a more occupation focus to the occupational therapy information. Most information talks only about ADL’s and related equipment. In living with a hip that needs to be replaced there seems to me to be a lot more that could be talked about. It was even difficult to find concepts such as energy conservation and work simplification.  
  2. I expected that there would be presurgery advice. I don’t mean information given out a week or two before surgery and associated with preparing for surgery and the weeks after, but rather advice to assist from the time the possibility of surgery is identified.  Advice that includes priniciples of joint protection on both the affected and unaffected side and that helped you keep in the best shape physically before surgery and helps you keep engaged and participating as things get harder to do (as of yet I haven’t found any info that would cover this).
  3. I found that there is an assumption in the information that if you are having surgery you are in the older age group and  not it seemed doing a lot! e.g. only needing to dress, shower, eat prepared meals for one, sit a lot (in the same chair) and occassionally drive a car!. Yet I know that  there are many very busy active 60 plus’s, and then there are the people like me I meet who are working, paying mortgages, engaging in a wide range of activities, some with young families,  all heading towards a hip replacement.
  4. That occupational therapists would have got together with consumers and worked up some really good information that all occupational therapists could use, after all there is no sense everyone reinventing the wheel. 
  5. That the advice would be consistant. There seems to be differences in some advice and no rational given for why the advice may differ e.g  whether you should sleep on the operated side or the nonoperated side, the precautions associated with internal and external rotation, and moving the operated hip backwards.
  6. Occupational therapy advice seems hooked on equipment, rather than techniques  e.g. what happens after the first week or so when the person get more active e.g what do you do if away from home and needing to go to the toilet and there are no high seats?


If you are heading towards a total hip operation what do you need to know in relation to the tasks and activities you want and need to do? Perhaps then occupational therapists will take up the challenge to design information that helps you.

and occupational therapists what are the best examples of information from occupational therapists already online? and why? and what evidence is there that should we be calling on in the information we put online?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Employment of occupational therapists in New Zealand

This year in New Zealand it has been significantly more difficult for new graduate ocupational therapists to find work. This appears to have been for a number of reasons:

  1. The first most obvious – the world wide recession, times are tighter workplaces worldwide  are more cautious. We have noticed a significant reduction in occupational therapists heading off for their big OE (for those non New Zealanders OE = Overseas Experience) with occupational therapy work being difficult to obtain in places such as the UK .
  2. District Health Boards in New Zealand are feeling the pinch
  3. Changes in ACC (Accident Compensation Corporation) have meant that many occupational therapy agencies/companies have lost contracts or had reduced work . Those staff affected have appeared to move back into district health board employment, changing the usual balance in these workplaces of internal promotion versus external appointments and thus not freeing up the positions traditionally taken by new graduates.

This has meant that there are still a number of new graduates seeking work but not yet in work. On a positive note there does seem in recent weeks to have been an increase in new grads being offered work. It is interesting to note that on (internet job search web site) there are currently 30-40 occupational therapy jobs advertised thoughout NZ. All of these are not new graduate positions, however one would hope that the stepping up of others into these positions will free new graduate positions.

What to do meanwhile – my advice (for what it is worth!)

  • Keep your focus don’t give up
  • prepare prepare prepare – do your homework for each position you wish to apply for. Find out as much as you can about the job, the organisation and the people in it. Use the internet, people you know, ring and ask questions about the post (work out carefully what you wish to ask before you call ) and then use the information you gain in your application letter and to help you prepare for the interview
  • Write your letter specifically for the job you are applying for (don’t use a generic one).
  • Make sure your CV is up to date. Put on your CV any part time work you are doing at the moment and any volunteer work you might be doing
  • Consider volunteering – volunteer work can be a useful stepping stone into work, it can mean that you are gaining skills by working in an area related one you wish to gain emplyment in.
  • Make sure you gain feedback from previous interviews. What did they see as your strengths, ask them about how you presented at the interview, how well you answered the questions, did your knowledge and understanding come though, was there an are you were weak in.
  • Build up your networks, be seen in occupational therapy circles
  • Practice interviews, have someone give feedback on your CV, letters etc
  • Keep your referees up to date witht he jobs you are being interviewed for – as their reaction when telephoned for a reference check can help
  • Stay cool, some of getting work is being in the right place at the right time

If you are a new grad from Otago Polytechnic and still looking for work and wanting suport or help please call.


Occupational therapy is just commonsense isn’t it?

NO NO No!!!

I don’t know how many times I have heard an occupational therapist or an occupational therapy student say “its just commonsense” when someone comments on something that has been suggested or recommended by the occupational therapist. After all doesn’t everyone know how to set goals, how to use a problem solving process or know that being well occupied contributes to self worth and self identity?

No !! If it was that easy everyone would just do it. Yes some but not all people do know about theses things but many struggle with how to bring them about . In the case of goal setting knowing how to not only set an achievable goal but to break it down to achievable steps to, work out how to remain focused on the goal, to learn how to plan for and scale any barriers that may be in the way and to celebrate the successes especially when one is coping with change, injury, disbility, illness or changed circumstance is difficult.

It’s definitely not just commonsense rather skilled artistry on the behalf of the therapist in getting alongside the person and making the difficult seem achievable.  Just as being well occupied, engaging in a range of satisfying occupations can require careful consideration of the environment, the person and the occupation/task or activity  by the therapist in order to bring it about successfully enabling the  person to experience meaningful engagement and the feelings of wellbeing that go with it.

The good bit (and sometimes the hard bit) is if we are good at what we do many don’t notice the intervention it just worked -they did it and slowly the skill of goal setting, problem solving, and the ability to bring about being well occupied moves from being facilitated by the occupational therapist  to being within the clients arsonal of skill to use as and when needed and so it begins to becomes the every day, and as that happens the illusion of commonsense develops.

I am not saying others can’t bring these things about however an occupational therapists ability to manipulate context rather than the person is a pretty unique skill.

The dictionary says commonsense is: “good sense and sound judgement in practical matters” so perhaps occupational therapy is commonsense – but perhaps commonsense isn’t all that common? Perhaps occupational therapists amongst other things are builders of commonsense?

Here ends my first rant and first blog for ages…

So visitors to this blog – Is occupational therapy just commonsense?

Where does time go?

I can’t beleive that it is almost Easter and I haven’t done any posting nor checking on the occupational therapy blogging community for sometime. I have just checked my statistics which make me feel pleased but somewhat sad as despite my absence people have been visiting my site.

Life seems busy. I think I am going to have to check out the literature on occupational balance. Easter resolution is to find time for blogging.