Monthly Archives: November 2008

Calling occupational therapists – What’s OT?

OT , BT3.

ALO, KOT,POT,FI, FW1,CH,ALT,ROP,HOT,SAOT

How would you feel if I told you you would be doing all of these next week? Would you feel anxious?, wonder what you should wear?, whether you should eat before you did them?

Well I guess there is about 100 people in the world who will understand all that I have just written, and at least 260,000 who will understand the first OT. From memory that is, the number of occupational therapists in the world, according to the World Federation of Occupational Therapists recent stock take on occupational therapy.  Given that we ponder/discuss and constantly work on how to get our profession better recognised by others why do we persist in saying and writing OT?

I remember as a student, another student telling the story of an elderly client who had wanted something and had been told to talk to the OT. She was heard asking around the ward for the Old Tea Lady (true!!!!)

Today I got a call from my extended family, as per my last post I currently have a family member in hospital and he has now moved to rehabilitation, and fantastically they have put a list on the wall of his rehabilitation team. Today the question from the family was what does SW stand for, what about SLT and PT and is OT occupational therapy ? I know that one day they will know what all of these stand for but wouldn’t it be nice if they knew from the word go. For those that don’t know SW is social worker, SLT is speech language therapist, PT is physiotherapist and yes OT is occupational therapy.

We have a beautiful name, that describes our core beleif why don’t we use it? I know we have to explain occupation to others but we are half way there if people start with knowing the name of our profession. So lets stop the jargon and abbreviations as one of the most proactive steps we can take to having people know and understand our profession.

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Occupational therapy and client/ patient handouts

I have had some recent experience of knowing someone in hospital. From this experience I have some thoughts about handouts.

Many professions use handouts as a way of informing patients and their relatives about an issue, strategies or techniques that would be useful for the client and their family to know. The concept is a very good one. We know that clients and their families don’t always know what to ask or what will assist in the persons treatment, a handout can help answer questions and give them things to do. It gives them something to refer back to, gives them the time they  need time to absorb the information at their own rate and means that they can use the information to help them form questions.

So from my experience here are some things we should consider when giving out a handout (and I reiterate I do think handouts are very useful, if well thought out and I acknowledge that we don’t have time for them to all be individually done).

1. Handouts are often generic, so find a way to personalise it for that client. Put their name on it – and find a way of indicating which of the pieces of information/suggestions or techniques are best suited for that client. For example you could state at the beginning of the handout that the ideas suited for Tom or Sally have a tick beside them and the ones that aren’t relevant a cross (make the ticks big and bright).

2. Find a way of keeping the information together for the client – a bundle of loose pages gets lost, people don’t know if they are still relevant or even for that person, they don’t know if the information is out of date or still relevant. Perhaps they could be placed in a file (with a date on them) or perhaps they could be dated and put on the wall.

3. Indicate on the handout how you think the information should be used e.g. is it something that you are suggesting family/visitors do with the client (negotiate with the client that this is ok with them first though and have this on the handout) or do you expect the client to do it themselves?.

4. Make sure the handouts are up-to-date with the clients progress

5. When you do give a handout – don’t just hand it quickly over and walk away (after  all it is important) – explain and go though it with the client and/or family

5. Finally, all of the above is even more important if the client has a memory problem !!!!! (sounds obvious!)

So if you are a therapist how about thinking about your handouts. Could you improve them, and how you introduce them to your clients and their families.

I will look forward to seeing if any of you have other suggestions of the does and don’ts to add to this list.

Occupational Therapy and Literature

Middle Beach St Clair

Middle Beach St Clair

Today I went to a lunch time seminar the speaker was Rosemary who had been a lecturer at our school of occupational therapy until her retirement last year. She is now finding time to do a PHD.  It was a really interesting talk on using popular literature to gain an understanding of Occupational Therapy – an understanding of occupation and an understanding of the human condition.

Two things I have taken from or thought about since the talk:

Occupational therapists recognise in all occupations the technical skill e.g. in baking a cake (the techniques such as creaming butter and sugar together, measuring ingredients, using the stove etc). But  when you read a popular literature story (or even a children’s story)  that involves baking a cake the reader realises as occupational therapists do when working with clients  that there is much more to baking a cake than the technical skills. Why is baking a cake important to that person?, why do you decide to bake a cake?, what do they gain from baking it?, how does doing it impact or affect who we are? As we work with our clients/patients as occupational therapists we believe that all of these things are implicit to why people choose to  engage in certain occupations.

So the occupation of baking a cake and most occupations are complex they are not just about the technical skill but also tell us about the human condition.  As we work with our clients/patients as occupational therapists we know that many things contribute to why people choose to  engage in certain occupations.

The other piece of food for thought as an educator is that occupational therapy students and occupational therapists need to know as much as they can about occupations and the human condition. How do we get this knowledge when we only have our own experiences. Rosemary suggests that ‘good’ popular literature is a way to come to a greater understanding.