On Monday Sheffield Hallam OT students, including members of the SHOUT team, headed up to York for two days to attended the College of Occupational Therapists' Independent Practice Specialist Section Conference. Returning enthused and inspired, they have shared their learning and experiences below.
And thanks to fantastic promotion and representation of SHOUT by our members, our SHOUT conference poster won first prize for it's clarity and message! Well done SHOUT, way to go!!!
By Sam Evans, Jonny Duval, Emily Bode, Jodie Hall and Emma Wilsher
The first session was led by Pat Eyres, who discussed the resources available for making business achievable. She made it clear that there is support available (such as small business start-up loans) to help us get the ball rolling.
She made a number of practical suggestions such as contacting organisations for work in January when they often have money to spend before the end of the financial year.
Pat told the story of how she began practicing independently and explained that there is a great deal of work out there if you are prepared to take the leap.
Janet Wilkinson, from 3x3 Consulting, led a very interactive session in which we were asked at the outset to write down how much we thought we were worth per hour. She reminded us of our incredible skill set and encouraged us to remember that "you can be lovely and still get paid!" At the end of the session we were asked to look again at how much we had valued ourselves and see if our view had changed. Many of those in attendance had added value to their services!
In an effort to simplify the process of setting out on the path to Independent practice, we were told that there are only a few things we need to start up a business:
· A computer with internet access
· A description of what you do
· A set of rates
· Business cards
· An e-mail address
· A separate bank account
· A network
· Knowing how many hours/days you want to charge for
We need to think of the extra costs involved in working independently in order to be paid correctly and not be underpaid.
David Bailey spoke to us about insurance and told us that we must keep records, not just for a few years, but even after death! Apparently it is a good idea to leave the location of your records in your will, in case someone tries to sue your estate.
Finally we got to network with many wonderful OTs who were all looking to take the leap into Independent Practice. Hayley from We DO Therapy was able to give some great reasons why we should use social media - and how she promotes her work via the use of social media. Hayley uses twitter and a blog to show how she cares. A large percentage of their service users have come to them via social media.
Heinz Wolff presented the case for care4care to address the problem of "who will look after you when you're old?". It is a solution for our strained systems, the economic climate and the ageing population. This was an inspiring idea based on the value of volunteering, which he defined as "doing something you are not told to do". This volunteering initiative would work through building up hours to spend on care in the future, as time isn't affected by inflation and an hour is always worth an hour - no one can turn around and tell you that your hour is only worth 45 minutes. We reflected that although this is an amazing concept, we wonder how a transition to this type of society would work as it would take a transformation of culture. One practitioner said that the systems would all need to fall to pieces before this could happen.
Prof. Wolff also espoused the phrase "We live in the age of error, not the age of terror" and began to discuss how the "errorists" such as bankers are the ones to fear more than the "terrorists".
Are you aware that only 25% of people can work towards SMART goals? OT Jen Gash believes we need to be thinking more creatively enabling us to step into roles that are away from traditional roles.
From Jen’s talk there were discussions about community and the ‘Xfactor syndrome’, this is, how people are out to be rich and famous and forget what is most important:
Finally, We were praised highly for representing SHOUT and Sheffield Hallam. The overall feedback was that the poster was concise, succinct, clear and powerful and due to this we got the majority vote in the poster competition and won first prize! We'd like to thank COTSS-IP for allowing us to present our SHOUT poster and for the very kind prize of a £25 gift voucher.
The conference was very inspiring and made us aware of the wide range of opportunities for OTs outside of statutory practice - even for the newly qualified. We were reminded of our great strengths as a profession and encouraged to think more highly of ourselves and not to undersell ourselves. The common theme between speakers was that OTs need to break away from the pigeon-holed view of the OT role common within the NHS.
Some twitter links for you to follow: