The SHOUT Team attended the COT conference last week. We handed out leaflets and spread the word far and wide about the SHOUT, making many new contacts. And, of course, we made the most of the freebies!
On Tuesday 12th June, after a mad dash to get to the station on time, we boarded the first of three trains to take us up to Scotland. Despite having booked different coaches we found seats with Helen Saunders and Sue Peters from the BAOT Trent regional group and, being cheeky students, made full use of our captive audience - watch this space for our train interview!
We met other OTs, students and COT staff during the long journey, and arrived 5 hours later feeling energised to jump feet first into the conference.
As soon as we arrived in the huge and sunny central hall of the SECC the tiredness set in, but it was a quick dash to the loos and luggage store before heading straight into our first workshop of the afternoon. And what a great start to the conference it was: Jennifer Creek with an Introduction to the European Conceptual Framework for OT.
“Language shapes the way we think, and determines what we can think about” stated Benjamin Lee Whorf (1956) and this was echoed in Creek’s session: words represent concepts and are our tools for thinking and communicating. Defining terms, as the European Conceptual Framework has done, and using these in our shared professional language helps us all to understand what we are talking about and present ourselves with a level of professionalism to other medical and healthcare workers during a time when we need to prove our worth. Creek asked whether, as a profession, we have been better at using poetic language than scientific language. We need to ensure that we are accurate and precise in how we communicate, using standardised terms and scientific language whilst still keeping the heart of OT and our unique way of expressing our understanding of the person.
During the Elizabeth Casson Memorial Lecture, Dorothy Gould got us thinking about communication and the language we use with service users when she spoke alongside Dr. Claire Ballinger. Her moving message is one to remember on placement: an OT’s most important quality is warmth. Ballinger also called for advocacy and clear articulation of OT in the political arena, inspiring us to brave collective action. Julia Scott reiterated this in her closing talk to the conference, encouraging us to share our stories and use words powerfully to speak UP for OT.
Not to miss out on an opportunity to promote SHOUT, we joined Twitter to participate in the conference buzz. Following tweeters, such as the BAOT, students and clinicians, was a great way to find out about interesting events going on or summaries of sessions we didn't attend. SHOUT was even tweeted by Mr Twitter himself, the COT Social Media Officer!
Attending conference was a wonderful experience. We made new friends and felt inspired and honoured to be in the company of so many fantastic OTs and students. It was a real joy to be in the audience when our SHU lecturer Claire Craig received her Fellowship Award (see next post). We particularly enjoyed the opportunity to promote SHOUT to anyone and everyone who was willing to listen, and wore our green T-shirts with pride!
We're already looking forward to next year - COT Conference 2013, here we come!