Friday, 17 October 2014

Joe Sempik-What a Fantastic First SHOUT event of the season THANKS JOE!

Connie introduces our first SHOUT talk of the season
After thinking that no-one would turn out for our first SHOUT event as the first biggest storm of the autumn seemed to be pounding at our doorstep; we nonetheless ended up having a fantastically well attended event. A variety of people from all sorts of different organisations attended, including representation from the local Sheffield therapeutic gardening group SAGE green fingers.

Joe talked about many of the different benefits and ways in which therapeutic gardening can impact upon social behaviour, defining its use as a ‘structured and beneficial intervention’ quite separate from leisure or domestic gardening. He acknowledged that although he himself is not an OT having in fact a pharmaceutical background, therapeutic gardening can be seen to draw on many OT models and frameworks.

Joe gave us a tour projects that he had been involved in and some other therapeutic gardens which enabled us to see how what we would consider the ordinary everyday make-up of the garden could be used to facilitate recovery. An ordinary garden path for example could be used to represent progression, a journey or a story of some kind.

We were shown one of Joe's recent research projects carried out by the charity THRIVE,  assessing the impact of horticultural therapy on various aspects of an individual’s functioning such as communication, social interaction, motivation, engagement and fine motor skills. To measure these Joe used INSIGHT which provides a single score for each aspect of functioning that was being measured, and Joe explained how this was carried out. 

The results of the study showed that there was a significant improvement in the areas of social interaction, motivation and task engagement when individuals were assessed at 12 months; however this effect began to 'fade' after this time with individuals scores reducing in this area.

After a comfort break, and a chance for the attendees to mingle and chat with each other, Joe took questions based on his talk. The audience were interested in what could potentially cause this fading in the skills that individuals were developing as a result of the horticultural therapy and Joe explained that it could be due to a variety of factors. One of these was the impact of individuals leaving the therapy programme once they were ready, leaving those with the lower scores on measurements of functioning still in the programme, this lead to a discussion about research methods.

This was a brilliant way to begin this academic year of SHOUT events, we have received some fantastic feedback about the talk and we would like to thank Joe for his time. We are now excited for our next talk, though hopefully the weather will have improved and no one will be battling high wind and rain to attend!

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