Tuesday, 16 January 2018


"Nat Jones, who trained at Sheffield Hallam came to talk to us about Professional Leadership.
 She gave us an interesting insight into her life experiences and career as an occupational therapist. As an OT there are lots of definitions to choose from and we are constantly challenged to define our role. Nat spoke about when describing what OT is to someone it is best to speak 'from the heart' and keep it real and meaningful in terms of what your experience is of it and what it means to you.
Nat spoke passionately about seeking opportunities to promote OT as a profession though getting involved with specialist organisations and professional bodies such as SOTCA (Sheffield occupational therapy clinical academics). This builds confidence and helps build your leadership skills, which are important when it come to influencing others positively as an OT.

  Nat told the story of how she applied to the research and development board for RCOT with little confidence in her abilities initially only to find she had so much to offer the role and developed so much from it. She urges occupational therapists and students to take chance and apply for things even if they doubt their capabilities. By engaging in these opportunities you yourself are building the occupational therapy profession.

  Nat advises bringing occupations into your work will enhance the therapeutic role with clients and reminds how important occupation is to connect to culture and our own personal worlds. Having your own occupations and skills can be useful to bring into practice.
  In 2011 Nat began research of her own exploring how Nintendo Wii  can benefit upper limb rehabilitation. From here she did her masters in clinical research and went to Utah to teach about the NHS and stroke rehabilitation. She described one of the main highlights of her career (when asked) as meeting HRH Princess Anne who is now the patron for RCOT. 

  Through telling her story Nat illustrated how taking one opportunity can lead to another and unexpected things can happen! So remember to stay connected with other occupational therapy groups and no matter how much you may doubt yourself always apply for different opportunities and challenges as you never know where they might lead!
To find out more about building research capacity in clinical settings visit: http://www.catch.org.uk/current-project/cabot/"

Monday, 2 November 2015

SHOUT had a fantastic start to the new academic year with a talk by Rachel Prescott, an occupational therapist working in Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust exploring Playlist 4 Life. Rachel was given the opportunity alongside another occupational therapist to pilot the programme, whereby individuals on a health care of older people ward were provided with an Ipod that contained a personalised play list. There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that music is a powerful tool in the treatment of individuals with dementia, this is due to the fact that the area of the brain involved in the storage of musical memories is one of the last areas to be affected by dementia. The results of the programme were incredibly positive, individuals were observed with decreased levels of boredom, agitation and improved interaction and well-being.

During the talk Rachel discussed the stories of specific individuals she had worked with during the programme, and the effect that the playlist had had on them, one of the most powerful was her description of a man with dementia who was living in isolation. Whilst listening to the music one of the first signs of connection was toe tapping, it was believed that as a result of the playlist his abilities to communicate had improved, and his agitation decreased. One of the most important elements of the programme highlighted by Rachel is the fact that the playlist must be meaningful for the individual, the songs need to be connected to memories. It is therefore vital that the individual’s family or friends are involved in creating the playlist, if an individual is unable to request songs themselves.  

Rachel ended the talk with a short video taken from the documentary ‘Alive Inside’, showing the impact that a personalised playlist had on an individual with a dementia diagnoisis. This can be viewed here:

The next steps for the programme are to spread the word of the benefits of music for individuals with a diagnosis of dementia. It is hoped that Playlist 4 Life could be rolled out in care homes, memory clinics, wards and community care, and also in primary care for example GP’s. If you are interested in the work of Playlist 4 Life, on their website you can create your own playlist of songs that are meaningful for you:


Monday, 12 October 2015

SHOUT meet Sue Parkinson - September 21st 2015

So it’s the start of a new academic year for us all here at SHOUT. What better way to start it then to be attending a two-day workshop hosted by Sue Parkinson based on her recent book release - Recovery through Activity. After a busy (& long!) summer entertaining my toddler (& not doing much reading..oops) this was exactly the opportunity I needed to jump back in to year 2 of the course. I was thrilled to be given this opportunity but also felt a bit nervous due to my lack of experience in Mental Health and also my knowledge on MOHO. So I thought the best thing to do to prepare would be to buy the book and see what it's all about.

Sue Parkinson, lead author of MOHOST is recognized as an influential and passionate occupational therapist who has made a huge impact within the evidence-based realm of mental health. The book which the workshop was based on, titled 'Recovery Through Activity' (2014) is a flexible, easy to digest, tool aimed towards facilitating groups and exploring the value of activities. 

The first thing that jumped out at me about the book was the clear layout and straightforward text. As a second year student who, at times, has struggled with the extensive amount of reading and the effort that comes with reading and re-reading whole pages just to make sense…this text was a breath of fresh air. The book is sectioned into 12 areas of activity (eg; leisure, self-care), each with background information including evidence base. There is then suggestions to facilitate discussions about these activity areas, group exercises, ice breakers, hand-outs to photocopy and ideas to follow-up the session. The book is heavily underpinned by MOHO theory, which is great in allowing you to link in with MOHO assessments and recognizing that familiar language (which as a student really helps me apply the language into something tangible).
I wont say any more about the book itself as I have absolutely no experience in book reviewing (as you can probably tell) so I'm afraid that I wouldn’t do it justice. Just trust me when I say it is definitely worth owning a copy.

Back to the workshop! It was based in Sleaford, so very early start commuting from Sheffield but worth it. In total there was 4 students and the rest that were OT's from a variety of mental health areas. It was interesting to spend time with these professionals and exciting to hear them speak so passionately about their careers (& picking their brains during the tea breaks!).

The theme of the workshop started with a discussion about facilitating groups, and why we do this. I was surprised to find out that not many of the OT’s in attendance were currently facilitating groups, though the majority had experience in doing so. Group facilitation is not something I have experience in, but an area I am certain I will explore. Sue spoke about the basics of running groups and areas to think about when doing so such as; is the group open or closed, how often sessions are held, the target group, session topics etc. Sue also went on to explain why facilitating groups is worthwhile, as it brings it back to the OT basics – during group activity the emphasis is on the doing. Sue also used Yalom’s ‘11 curative factors of group therapy’ to explain the dynamics of engaging this way. It was certainly an eye-opening discussion for me as I hadn’t really thought about how powerful groups can be

I particularly liked the way Sue explained so effectively where ‘Recovery through activity’ groups could fit in to the OT process and the role that they can play in exploring an individual’s interests resulting in goal collaboration. As a future Occupational Therapist I have a clear view to where I could use the recovery through activity groups in my future practice. Clients which need support in addressing areas of their volition could benefit from the exploratory opportunities of the group. This includes promoting confidence, social skills and validation of shared interests. Then, through 1:1 work this can be built upon by negotiating goals and focusing on skill development alongside roles and routines.

Day 1 of the workshop ended with a discussion and activity on negotiating treatment goals. This involved coming up with examples of goals which were measurable, achievable and person-centred. As a student I have sometimes struggled with writing the ‘SMART’ goals that we are taught at university, many times have I written a goal only to get the feedback ‘Make it smarter!’. The way MOHO uses levels of change and support strategies within the goal setting, I believe makes it a lot more focused and effortlessly smart. I feel confident now with my goal negotiating and I am looking forward to using it in practice. (At the end of the blog post you will find some additional reading references on goal negotiating that I hope you find useful).

Hannah, Sue Parkinson & Sadie

Day 2 and getting up at 5am was even easier as I was raring to go with what I would learn at the workshop. The day was a lot more practical with emphasis on building a potential recovery through activity program. Before we did this though, Sue spoke about the Do-Live-Well Framework which is a Canadian framework for promoting occupation, health and well-being. See the youtube clip here:


I think that the easy to understand video is a great tool for explaining the areas of occupation to service users and members of the MDT. Looking at the 8 areas, described within the framework as ‘dimensions of experience’, Sue explained where the activities within the Recovery through activity programme could fit. For example; under ‘Personal Care’ could be both self-care and faith activities. This allowed for a clear view to which activity areas would be useful to include in your programme depending on which of the 8 dimensions of experience you choose to focus on.

In the afternoon of day 2 we separated into groups, based on service areas, to have a go at outlining a recovery through activity programme which could be used within practice. The students were asked to separate and join in with the clinicians to bring ‘fresh ideas’. My group was made up with clinicians who were working in secure forensic settings. We brain stormed some ideas and decided on using the ‘Community’ area of activity, using resources from the recovery through activity book to support us. We decided using discussion exercises could prompt shared ideas on what community means to the individual and to reflect on their roles within their community setting. The session would end with brainstorming an activity to follow up, we suggested creating a wall mosaic that represents the community within the secure setting. This would link nicely to the next group topic which could be ‘Creative Activities’. This was just one idea of many shared that day by the group, all which centred on our main ethos of ‘doing’. This is what I loved about the workshops and the book itself, the focus is on what we trained (or are training) to do – the use of activities to recover, sustain and thrive.

Overall I had a brilliant two days and feel like I have really benefited from the experience. My knowledge of facilitating groups has grown, along with the concepts of MOHO. It was such a privilege to attend and meet Sue Parkinson, who is not only a MOHO legend but a really lovely and inspiring lady.

Perhaps Sue may come to Sheffield Hallam and speak at a SHOUT event in the future?..Watch this space!

Sadie (2nd Year undergrad OT)

Negotiating goals reading:

KIELHOFNER, Gary. (2008). Therapeutic Reasoning: Planning, Implementing, and Evaluating the Outcomes of Therapy. In: Model of Human Occupation. 4th ed. Baltimore, Lippincott Wiliams & Wilkins. 

PARKINSON, Sue. (2014). Recovery Through Activity. London, Speechmark Publishing.

PARKINSON, Sue et al. (2011). Enhancing professional reasoning through the use of evidence-based assessments, robust case formulations and measurable goals. [online] British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 74, 148-152.

SHOUT's 2015/2016 Talks. 

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

SHOUT Presents Laura McQuillin - Paediatric Occupational Therapy
SHOUT were really lucky to have guest speaker Laura McQuillin deliver a talk last week on the role of paediatric occupational therapists, in particular relation to Developmental Co-ordination Disorder (DCD). The talk began with a discussion around what DCD is in terms of subtypes, symptoms and the impact on the completing activities of daily living for children living with the condition. In order to explore the importance of vision and sensory skills in relation to coordination, Laura asked us all to shut our eyes and write our name on a piece of paper. The abilities of people in the room varied greatly, and this caused some amusement!

The importance of children receiving a diagnosis was also discussed, for example to enable children to receive support both at school and at home, to access relevant services such as occupational therapy and the importance of early intervention. We took part in a short quiz which revealed some interesting facts, 1 in 10 children receive a diagnosis of DCD, that's 10% of the population, 4% of the population require therapy. Interestingly in Scandinavia only 1-2% of the population receive a diagnosis of DCD, it was proposed that this is due to early schooling, meaning that interventions are put in place at an earlier age. Boys are more likely to receive a diagnosis of DCD, and the role of gender stereotyping and gender typical behaviours were discussed in relation to this.
Laura explained the service that she works in, and the importance of goal setting at the beginning of the therapy process, interestingly she explained that the children often have different goals to those of their parents, and also of the GP. Therefore as an occupational therapist she has to balance the wishes of a number of different people, but luckily she has time to address a number of goals as part of the therapy process. The interventions she discussed were focused around play, we were shown a video of a bike club intervention which is attached to this post.
Laura was a fantastic speaker, and we have received some really positive feedback from those who attended the talk, so thank you and we look forward to our next event!

Friday, 31 October 2014

Claire Craig- Dementia, Creativity and Connectivity 29th October 2014

Dr. Claire Craig is a qualified occupational therapist with a particular interest in the potential of creativity and creative approaches to promote communication and self-esteem for people with dementia. She currently works as a lecturer in occupational therapy and as a senior researcher in Lab4Living, an interprofessional research centre that brings together researchers in design, fine art and health, engaging in research with individuals and services to drive innovation and develop products in healthcare service design and delivery.

 In this evenings talk Claire will explore the role that the arts and design can play in promoting well-being for individuals living with dementia. She will also use it as an opportunity to describe some of the work that she has very recently been involved in.

If you want to find out more about Lab4Living go to:

To get tickets for this event email Shout.event@gmail.com 

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!