Category Archives: Support

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.


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.


Doing occupational therapy differently – have we considered it?


I was watching TV last night and they were talking about the Accident & Emergency department crisis in New Zealand where people have to wait for hours and don’t always get the service they need. They showed an A&E department in Australia – who had taken some learning from the toyota motor cars assembly facility – the ‘lean’ method/technique (or some similar word) as a way to address the waiting issue and to avoid getting into traps that prioritising patients though a triage system often brings. They were focusing on seeing the person and getting the intervention right by the right people at the right time, seeing the whole and not just the parts, focusing on the best outcome.


I’m not in the heart of practice any more but can remember going to one job where it felt that the people in the job before me had spent most of their time assessing and putting people on the waiting list and not therefore having time to treat the clients. The TV programme and my experience made me wonder whether it was time for us to also think about how we prioritise our clients and whether prioritising is the most effective way to go. I also know that the pressure of waiting lists often gets to therapists. Seeing people who have beenwaiting for a time is also frustrating as it often means intervention has become harder and the client and the family are incredible frustrated about having had to wait.

Interesting on the same night there was a segment on a new stroke initiative to give rehab to stroke clients who have received little since they returned home. It’s a sad fact that rehabilitation seems to be a dying art – so great to see someone pushing for it’s return. I guess what it reiterated for me is that some services that were previously provided by hospital facilities are going to need to be championed by non-government organisations if they are to survive – and as occupational therapists we need to be advocating hard ensure clients have the possibility to receive services such as rehabilitation.

Food for thought

Occupational Therapy Communities of Interest


I have been doing a bit of reading about communities of interest and thinking about how belonging to such communities contributes to and enhances the experiences we have.

The literature describes communities of interest as being people with a collective perspective, a common; identity, purpose, and concerns. And importantly they are about sharing and social interaction between the people in them. How well the community works is seen to have an effect on the well being of the people.

Working in an occupational therapy school (you could probably substitute any type of school) the role we have to establish, maintain and grow the community of staff and students is a complex one. Ensuring everyone from the newest of students, to staff who have been within education for some time all feel apart of this same community.

The curriculum we have plays a large part in enabling students and staff to develop a collective perspective, an occupational therapy identity etc. But perhaps of equal importance is the other things that happen within the school e.g the events, the structures and of course the environment which contribute to ensuring we have a strong community of interest. A community that assists students and staff through the hard times, which celebrates the good times, and has a positive effect on everyone’s sense of well being.

My reading would indicate that communities work best when the people in the community feel that their; views are heard, where they are a part of the decision making, where they have a sense of belonging, unity, affinity and compatibility.

I see our challenge as one of ensuring we have not only the best curriculum we can, but ensuring the environment and the other activities within the school also work to develop a positive community of interest inclusive of both students and staff.

This isn’t rocket science and isn’t new, however sometimes it’s good to stop refocus, and reset priorities.

I believe the same thinking applies to teams of occupational therapists in practice.

These URL’s helped shape the thinking in this blog:

Island off St Clair