The start of 2020 saw many masters students across the UK completing their two-year pre-registration Occupational Therapy programme. Throughout the course, students will have gained an insight into the importance of continuing professional development, including management of change within health and social care settings. With health services and the role of Occupational Therapists ever changing, there is great emphasis placed upon service development.
Students at the University of East Anglia have completed their final assessment on just this topic. As a culmination of their learning - using their experiences from their final elective placements - students were tasked to come up with service development ideas for their given setting. They were then required to demonstrate comprehensive knowledge and planning of their idea and present this to their peers, as a timed and graded assessment. The students used a variety of models of change - such as the PDSA model (as outlined by NHS Change) - as well as process maps, to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding. Student OT Caroline Silby found that the process helped her to “consider team dynamics when operationalising change” and made her “more proactive within service development, whilst applying critical thinking to a clinical environment”.
Students were only formally required to complete the planning phase of these projects, but some were able to begin implementing trial periods whilst on their placements - and others have reported that their plans have been taken on board by their placement colleagues, with the aim to implement them in the near future. When considering areas for development “the service improvement task helped me to understand the service I was in on placement and identify areas that had not been previously considered” - Lorna Day, who was based in a low secure unit for her placement, says. Lorna is now qualified, employed as an occupational therapist and has already found the skills developed on this task helpful; “since being employed as a qualified OT, I feel I can confidently plan improvements to this service on a small scale and larger scale if necessary.
It’s a very transferable skill for the work environment and also helped in my job interview.”
The students were in a wide variety of settings, from acute hospitals and mental health to role emerging; this gave opportunity for an array of ideas to be shared amongst the students and lecturers. Charmaine Chandler, University of East Anglia MSc Occupational Therapy Course Director, explains the importance of this final assessment. “One of the core aims underpinning the MSc pre-registration Occupational Therapy programme at the University of East Anglia is - ‘To develop therapists that are flexible and responsive to change, able to manage themselves and others within changing contexts of health and social care, whilst ensuring best value'.
This final assessment of the programme enables this aim to be assessed; determining the students' ability to identify areas of potential service development and be responsive to the needs of the service in developing ideas for implementation. The students explore their ideas from the perspective of all stakeholders, to understand the potential value and impact and ensure that the change proposed is both feasible and sustainable. The variety of innovative evidence-base presented on the assessment day confirmed that this aim had been realised - but, most importantly - that these newly qualified Occupational Therapists have the mindset and skill to support the continued development of both effective and efficient health and social care services.”
Students and lecturers alike feel that sharing the service development titles with The Occupational Therapy Hub community would be beneficial in demonstrating:
the hard work and emphasis placed upon service development in the current OT course
the valuable contribution students can have in implementing change in your services
Some of the service development titles that students elaborated on are as follows:
'Encouraging the Practice of Relaxation Skills on a Tier 4 CAMHS Eating Disorder Unit' - Hannah Plyte
'Implementing a Resident Activity Organiser in a Low Secure Unit' - Lorna Day
'Introduction of an Executive Functioning Group in a Private Paediatric Service' - Cherrie Lai
'Implementing the Occupational Self-Assessment Short-Form (OSA-SF) in a Care Farm Setting' - Aimee Craske
'Introducing Therapy Outcome Measures (TOMs)' - Hadija Uwase-Pottier
'Activity Specific Educational Posters for Sensory Integration Climbing Groups' - Bethany Malin
'Improving Delivery of Therapy Interventions Through the Introduction of a Therapy Advocate Role' - Charlotte Austin
'Improving Administrative Efficiency for Occupational Therapists when Completing Risk Assessments' - Samantha Baker
'Vocational Rehabilitation in Secure Services Introducing a Pre-Vocational Skills Group' - Kathleen Jarvis
'To Reduce Occupational Deprivation Through a Community Meeting that Empowers Patients to Give Feedback on Day to Day Life on a Level 1 Neuro-rehab Ward' - Alexandra Hunter
‘Improving Administration Time for Occupational Therapists Within a Regional Spinal Injuries Unit’ – Menai Parry
‘Development of Language Appropriate Health and Service Documents to Ensure Accessibility to Non-English Speaking Service Users’ – Caroline Silby
'Increasing Awareness of Importance in Collaborative Working Within an Inpatient Neurological Rehabilitation Setting For Staff and Family' - Ellie Keeler
'Introducing an Activity-Based Group for Service-Users of a Perinatal Community Mental Health Team' - Tess Tebboth
'The Development of a New OT Notes Proforma for Burns ITU' - Susanna Harvey
NHS Improvement. (2018). ‘Quality, service improvement and redesign tools: Plan, do, study, act (PDSA) cycles and the model for improvement’. NHS Improvement. [Online] Available at: https://improvement.nhs.uk/resources/pdsa-cycles (Accessed 8 March 2020).