Category Archives: Education

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.


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.

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.

The New Zealand Occupational Therapy Conference and the Australian Occupational Therapy Conference

Recently I had the opportunity to attend both of these conferences. The New Zealand Conference this year was in Palmerston North – not the easiest place to get to, but at the end of the day its being able to get together that matters. This was up there with the best of the New Zealand Conferences that I have attended. It seemed that people were all ready to do something about influencing the future of occupational therapy in New Zealand. There was a lot of celebrating  and showcasing the core values of our profession,  with an emphasis on occupation,  and an awareness that as a profession we bring a different perspective and approach to working with others.

You might argue that we did not have the well known names of the profession as key note speakers (we have had them in the past and value  their contributions) but there was something quite wonderful in having as key note speakers people who were researching but who were clearly still at the coal face engaging with clients or students, showing us that you can do both well.

The association continued its commitment to always have key note speaker who is a New Zealander. As a country of only 2,000 occupational therapists it has in the past been seen that conferences were a way to bring the experts from overseas in to tell us what they are doing. However in this decade we have seen the importance of not only learning and hearing from others, but celebrating what we are doing here, learning from each other and valuing this, alongside the insights from overseas.

So not only do we now always have a key note from a New Zealander but also no longer is our Frances Rutherford Award Lecture (for occupational therapists the New Zealand equivalent of the Eleanor Slagle Clark US or the Docker AUS) on the second or third day of the conference, but now on the first day of conference a true celebration of the contribution one of our own therapists has made to the New Zealand profession.

It was the first time that I have been to the Australian Occupational Therapy Conference and I have to say that this time round I think the New Zealand Conference was the better more focus, a greater pride and enthusiasm. So perhaps if you are an Australian occupational therapist or indeed from anywhere off shore next time the New Zealand Conference is on it might be worth thinking about coming across ‘the ditch’ (the pacific) and seeing what it is all about.

One of the highlights this year at the NZ Conference was Trish Egan’s call for us to develop our own model for occupational therapy practice. A suggestion that got everyone talking – so what is it that we do as occupational therapists here in NZ?, do we practice differently from elsewhere in the world?, are our  belief’s and values the same?

I do think we approach things differently, and work in a slightly different way than our colleagues elsewhere. Certainly because of New Zealand’s commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi, I think our understanding of identity, culture, cultural awareness, and cultural safety positions us a little differently to other countries. So watch out for a model in 2015 that gives an underpinning to NZ occupational therapy practice.



Tonight I decided that it has been a while since I visited some of the Occupational Therapy Blogs that are out there. One of the first I found when I was first starting to blog was Hosmer School it always has an interesting range of postings. They don’t get a lot of comments but they certainly get a lot of visits. Tonight when I went on they had a link to Freerice. A site where you test your vocabulary and for every word you can define (through multichoice questions) you are donating 20 grains of rice to the United Nations world food programme to help end hunger. They state:

“FreeRice has two goals:

  1. Provide English vocabulary to everyone for free.
  2. Help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free.

This is made possible by the sponsors who advertise on this site”.

They point out and again I quote from the site that:

“Learning new vocabulary has tremendous benefits. It can help you:

  • Formulate your ideas better
  • Write better papers, emails and business letters
  • Speak more precisely and persuasively
  • Comprehend more of what you read
  • Read faster because you comprehend better
  • Get better grades in high school, college and graduate school
  • Score higher on tests like the SAT, GRE, LSAT and GMAT
  • Perform better at job interviews and conferences
  • Sell yourself, your services, and your products better
  • Be more effective and successful at your job

After you have done FreeRice for a couple of days, you may notice an odd phenomenon. Words that you have never consciously used before will begin to pop into your head while you are speaking or writing. You will feel yourself using and knowing more words”

To find out more and to put your vocabularly to the test
visit Freerice

It certainly enhanced my vocab more than Gordon Ramsey was doing on the TV.