Student Board Member: A student representative from SPOTeurope on the ENOTHE board

Hello everyone!

I am Vanessa the Student Board Member (SBM) of SPOTeurope, a role which enables me to be part of two amazing boards – SPOTeurope and ENOTHE (European Network of Occupational Therapy in Higher Education).

The idea of the Student Board Member was created during the ENOTHE annual meeting 2017 in Zagreb (Croatia), after students shared their wish to have more student engagement. From here on SPOTeurope has worked on this concept and established the role in collaboration with ENOTHE in 2018 in Estoril (Portugal). Marlies Nijenhuis, former president of SPOTeurope, has developed and shaped this role as first student board member. This collaboration is very meaningful because we believe that students want to be involved in the crafting of their education. Since it is only the second year that a student has been representing the OT student community directly within ENOTHE, I assume a lot of you would like to know more about the role I am currently executing.

First of all, let’s talk about ENOTHE!

ENOTHE  is a non-profit network association whose main purpose is to support and improve the quality and standards of OT related educational programs in Europe and to make sure we, students, are prepared for the future. (https://enothe.eu/ )


Members of ENOTHE (December 2019, Amsterdam)

Enothe is staffed by Soemitro Poerbodipoero (President), Maria Kapanadze (Vice-President), Ursula Gubler Thomann (Treasurer), Panagiotis Siaperas (General Board Member and representative to ROTOS), Lisette Farias Vera (General Board Member), Sigitas Mingaila (General Board Member) Vanessa Röck (Student Board Member), Marta Figueiredo (ENOTHE coordinator) and last but not least, Mandy Boaz (ENOTHE Finance Administrator).

If you are interested in what they have to offer and their dreams about the future of ENOTHE, you are welcome to take a look on their website for more information : https://enothe.eu/home/enothe-board/

My ENOTHE journey

Now back to my experience as a SBM and with ENOTHE in general. With support from my former university (Health University of Applied Sciences Tyrol), I had the opportunity to attend the 2017 ENOTHE annual meeting in Zagreb. There I got my first “taste” of this supportive environment and the students’ energy when their voice is taken into account. One year later, in Estoril, I was honored to be able to witness the growing collaboration between students and lecturers, having, officially, a student on the board.

Starting the European Master of Science in Occupational Therapy last autumn and being a student again, I took the opportunity and became the second SBM. I assure you that I will do my best to ensure that your voice is heard on the ENOTHE board. To give you an insight in my responsibilities and duties, I have listed some tasks I am currently working on:  

I am involved in the day to day tasks of ENOTHE board. This enables me to share students’ input for example the outcomes from the student sessions in the last annual meeting.

Besides having monthly online meetings with the board of SPOTeurope, I also have online video conferences with the ENOTHE board. If necessary, there are also online meetings with just one or two people for a specific subject.

Face to face meetings: usually the full ENOTHE board and office meet up in person twice a year to intensively work on several topics. Because of environmental reasons this year there will only be one face to face meeting and another intense working phase online. The last one was in December 2019 in Amsterdam. One of the topics was the clarification of roles and the responsibilities of each board member. Mine are:

  • Connection of OT students with the ENOTHE board and making sure that your different opinions, ideas and perspectives are heard, e.g. the ENOTHE Academy Think Tank.
  • Getting in touch with the hosting students and discussing their involvement in the conferences like this year in Prague.
  • Being the gateway between SPOTeurope and ENOTHE, and therefore, working on guidelines regarding the budget and funding for SPOT.

Update on the next COTEC – ENOTHE Congress in Prague (2020)!

I am very pleased and excited to inform you that the preperation for this year’s congress involves a first ever pre-student conference! Since it is still under development, I will be visiting Prague for a couple of days at the end of February along with the organization committee and meet up with the SPOT Prague team to discuss and organize the program. I am looking forward to visit Prague and work with the students there. Also, I will be doing some sightseeing to write down the best spots you need to see when you are attending the conference 😉

I am looking forward to see you there in September! Since this year’s conference allows us to host a pre-student meeting, we would like to include your ideas and feedback. If you have any suggestions or maybe wishes, please let us know.

Summary

Even though the Student Board Member is still a new role, I can and will help you to spread your powerful voice among other students and teachers by being a member of the ENOTHE board as well!

All in all, I hope that after reading this blog post you have a little insight in what I am currently doing and that the SBM is an opportunity for the students’ voice to contribute to the creation of the current and future occupational therapy education. In order to be able to really do that, I need you. Therefore, this post should also be a call-to-action for you to help us with your input. You can do that either by:

  • Sending me an email with your ideas and feedback at studentboardmember@spoteurope.eu.
  • Becoming a SPOTeurope student representative, where you can be involved in SPOTeurope’s network more closely by being part of our private Facebook group. If you are interested, feel free to contact Emma, our Outreach Coordinator at outreach@spoteurope.eu  

We are looking forward to hearing from you!

Mobility Week in Amsterdam

This mobility week took place in Zuid-Oost, Amsterdam. From the 6th till the 8th of November 2019.

Introduction

Hello! My name is Marieke, I’m 22 years old and I live in Arnhem/ Netherlands. I’m currently studying occupational therapy but have a few more months left before I officially become an OT! I’m really excited and cannot wait for this big moment to arrive!!! Until then and during these few months there are some interesting things that need to be done. Two of these things are an internship in hand therapy and going to school every Friday at the HAN in Nijmegen.

During this internship I decided to get a few days off and visit the mobility week in Amsterdam. Now that I have finished my stay there I can assure you that this was the greatest choice I could have ever made. Without further ado let’s get you all excited about this mobility week!!

Impressions and micro + meso + macro levels

Besides getting to meet a lot of occupational therapy students from all over Europe and making a lot of new friends, which is honestly such a great experience, I had the chance to share similarities and compare differences on a micro-, meso- and macro-level. For example, on a micro-level everyone has a different way of studying and learning and, of course, different interests. On a meso-level now, there is the way each school decides to teach its students and which approach they like to use. For instance, the University of Amsterdam has a very unique and helpful way of learning and practicing. There is a practice apartment there, where students can perform simulation contact with clients, a very helpful and experiential way of learning and a safe way to experiment on approaches! Last but not least, there is the macro level, which includes the government, laws and regulations. This raises questions like “How does the system work in other countries”.  An interesting question, don’t you think?

A beneficial assignment leading to a professional – life lesson

Students, Teachers and Guest Speakers

The most interesting part of this mobility week, though, was the task we were assigned with, which had to do with the levels mentioned above. To be precise, we grouped up so as to find a marginalized group, display what their situation is now and what their dream situation would be like. Quite an interesting way to make you think outside of the box as an occupational therapist and a professional in general! Our group chose a community within Gent, which is in Belgium and our dream situation was for them to be included in the community in Gent. We got really excited, inspired and realized a lot of things along the way. For example, at first we thought that there was no realistic way of getting there. But due to our use of our occupational therapy values, frames of reference and knowledge, we actually got to the point where this dream situation could become reality. At the end of the week we gave a presentation in which we explained how we as occupational therapists can advocate, coach and inform to achieve inclusion in society. 

Honoring speeches

Another great aspect of Amsterdam’s mobility week was the opportunity to benefit from workshops and guest speakers! The guest speakers came to Amsterdam from all over the world, such as Canada and Tukey. They gave us an insight in working in different countries and the challenges you get to face in these settings. Some of them are lack of supplies, acceptance of working as a woman and the unfamiliarity of your profession.  In that moment we were called to think out of the box again in order to holistically and morally approach these matters.  We also had the chance to hear two very special guest speakers, Soemitro Poerbodipoero, current president of ENOTHE and Cassandra Christianen, current president of SPOTeurope. Both of these inspiring people stand for internationalization in occupational therapy and I strongly believe that we could benefit from (literally) pushing our boundaries, as they have already highlighted.

Acknowledgments

A massive thank you to the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS / HvA) for organizing this mobility week and bringing all these students and teachers together in such a creative way.

The next mobility week will be in January in Winterthur and the last one in May in Sweden.

Contact Information

Marieke Oonk

I think you get the most out of life and yourself if you keep growing. Personally I like to travel. A big part of why I like it is because I get to meet new people. The earth we live on is so big, yet so small. There are billions of people with stories to share from different points of view and I think we can all learn a big deal from one another. This concludes in growth, which is created by pushing your boundaries. Figurative boundaries can be pushed by pushing litteral boundaries. This may get you out of the comfort zone, because it is scary or even exciting. But this is the point when you start to grow.  Thus, the mobility week can be a great step to get out of your comfort zone! Let’s connect to create a safe and sound learning environment. I’m open for any questions you may have or if you want to share something with me.

So if you would like to know more about the Mobility Week or have a question for me or maybe just want to share your experience and push your boundaries, you can send me and e-mail at: marieke.oonk@hotmail.com or a text at: +31611934971

SPOT’s new blogger and the somewhat ancient history of OT in Greece.

Greetings everyone! I am Emmanouela (or Emma for short) and from now on I will be the new SPOT blogger!

A little bit of information for me

I was born and raised in Athens, Greece and I am currently studying Occupational Therapy as a second year student at Metropolitan College in Athens. I hadn’t heard of SPOTeurope before the workshop about internalisation, that took place at the premises of Metropolitan College at Marousi Campus. It was then that, I knew I had to get involved. This experience in combination with my volunteering experience at the annual ENOTHE conference made me realise that I want to communicate more with OT students from all over Europe and expand my view of the “occupational world”!

Communication

You can contact me via the blogger’s email: blogger@spoteurope.eu , or via Instagram: Kanetakh.e!

Contact me whenever you want to talk about occupational therapy, share your story or experiences, share OT related information or current projects you or your university/college are working on etc. You can always become a guest blogger and with my help we can share your thoughts and experiences on our website! I will be more than happy if you joined me on this journey!

Historical preview of OT in Greece

Lena Surrou Kostaki

Besides getting to know me, this month’s blog includes and insight view of Occupational Therapy in Greece. I firmly believe that in order to approach a subject holistically one has not only to look for modern facts, but also to take a look in the past. The hidden history behind OT in Greece is intertwined, till this day, to the 1st Greek occupational therapist’s professional course. One of the greatest names of OT in Greece is the name of Lena Surrou Kostaki’s.

Asclepius

Before revealing any more information about her contribution to OT, I would like to take a moment and highlight that some of the first people who used “occupations” as a mean of therapy were Asclepius in 700 BC, who used music, singing and physical exercise as a treatment for psychological patients, Hippocrates around the 4th century BC, who had a humanitarian approach which included kindness, politeness and arts as well, and Asclepiads, a doctor and physiologist, around the 1st century BC, who established the humanitarian treatment for psychological patients using therapeutic baths, massage, exercise and music. Even though these mindsets didn’t last long we can see that they were a great first start for the foundation of Occupational Therapy.

So, a long time after these statements and theories took place, around the 1950s’ Mrs. Kostaki began her journey and remarkable work. Looking back in one of her speeches, she gave away a lot of information about this remarkable and hard-to-achieve start of OT in Greece. She once narrated the first ever actions to have taken place in Greece, which were volunteering OT services organised by O’Caffrey to rehabilitate handicapped former soldiers. These services took place in some military hospitals of Athens, in psychiatric hospitals, in sanatoriums for people affected from tuberculosis etc. These structures were staffed with volunteers from the Greek Red Cross. As she has declared, the first certificated occupational therapist in Greece was Mrs. Roula Gregoriadou who was also volunteering for the Red Cross in one of its hospitals. Later on, in 1954 the rehabilitation centre for handicapped kids at Voula (PIKPA- ΠΙΚΠΑ) was founded. Right after this foundation both Mrs. Kostaki and Mrs. Gregoriadou trained the second and third generation of volunteers in OT, who were sisters in the Red Cross (in 1956-57 and 1960-61 respectively).

Mrs. Sofia Anesti
Mrs. Lena Kostaki
Mrs. Anna Deligiani

Another key reference point has always been the year 1955 when the World Health Organisation sent an occupational therapist in Greece to check on the institutions there. The general secretary of the Health and Provision ministry organised a meeting and included Mrs. Kostaki as a translator. This opportunity given to her meant the start of the first steps for the creation of a school solely for Occupational Therapy, despite the public opinion of creating one school for both occupational therapy and physiotherapy. It took almost 22 years when in 1977 Mrs. Kostaki created the first department of Occupational Therapy in a technological Educational Institute and with Mrs. Sofia Anesti and Mrs. Anna Deligiani they were the first ones to staff it. Almost 3 years later Mrs. Sofia Anesti was nominated to represent Greece in COTEC and Mrs. Kostaki was her spokeswoman. Finally another great achievement was noted when Mrs. Kostaki made it in ENOTHE, when it was first founded, as a member of the board of directors. To recapitulate, even though the first signs of use of occupations as treatments were spotted a couple of centuries BC the official start in Greece began with Mrs. Kostaki and a lot of other remarkable OT’s back in the 1950s’.

Modern perspective and evolution of OT: An insight view

The progress in the field is constant and moving rapidly as the years pass so it’s high time I highlighted more about how far OT has come in the last few decades. Now moving forward to some modern facts regarding OT in Greece, I didn’t do any research because I thought the best way to transmit this knowledge to you is by sharing personal experiences from OT students from Greece. Having carefully read and examined their answers to some questions asked I have summed up a conclusion and added some more general knowledge.

General information

Generally, in Greece, occupational therapists need to have specialised education in order to work in specialised centres such as neurological, psychological, paediatric, geriatric and centres for displaced people. The latter one is only recently developing in Greece since, unfortunately, almost 60.000 displaced people are located all over the country but this is also highlighted as a great emerging aspect of OT in Greece. One interesting and important fact about OT revolving around the labor market is that there is zero unemployment rate at the moment, meaning that once an OT degree holder tries to find a suitable work place, he or she will find one quickly and work on his or hers already grounded knowledge. However the progress in the field of occupational therapy in Greece has been great over the past few decades there is still enough room for improvement. For example, 50% of the country’s occupational therapists are using the top down approach and only the other half is using the bottom up one. This leads to services where clients receive less personalised treatment. This is one of the most important aspect of OT in Greece that we, younger occupational therapists and practitioners, should work on.

Student’s perspective

Metropolitan College, Campus, Marousi

Representatives from almost every year answered some questions asked about their experiences as students from the Metropolitan College, which I put together so you can have a comprehensive idea of how it is like being an OT student from Greece! So here are the questions and answers given:

What’s the reason behind choosing to study as an OT student?

Some of the most common reasons to choose OT as a profession amongst students is the diversity of opportunities provided and the uniqueness of it! A couple of other students also mentioned that the opportunity to help clients rebuilt their lives is a fulfilling experience and one you want to be a part of! Lately, as the rapid evolution of OT is clearly noticeable in Greece, as well as everywhere else, students are more intrigued to be involved in than they would want for any other profession. And, last but not least, there is a wide field of expertise regarding OT so the opportunities revolving around the labor market are almost endless, which makes it another great option, the students state.

How did you learn about Occupational Therapy?

Most of the students had heard about it at school and it “seemed an interesting profession” so they searched more information and watched youtube videos for it and they became even more interested! Some of them, though, mentioned they had seen occupational therapists work, due to incidents in their families, and were particularly keen on learning more and ultimately being involved. Lastly, there was one student who mentioned about a beloved member of the family who was an occupational therapist that made them even more familiar with the profession and affected their decision!

How did you learn about SPOTeurope

Despite not being globally known yet, Greek students are quite familiar with it! Most of them got to learn about it and meet the student board in person during the workshop and the annual ENOTHE conference which took place in Greece earlier this fall. Besides that, a lot of other students got in contact with their lecturers and tutors who informed them about the SPOT and its action plan! Last but not least there were few reports regarding the Media and especially Facebook, one of the three platforms the SPOT’s Social Media Lead [Emma] is currently spreading the word on!

What do you think about the campus’ facilities and the e-platform?

The campus’ facilities are consisted of spacious rooms for classes, modern equipment such as computers, projectors and specially modified items (suitable for work-alike stimulations) and a library with hundreds of books of every profession, beautifully constructed to inspire to you to study!

The e-platform is fully functional and quite helpful for studying because it provides you with easy to access and neatly organised folders for every class. It also enables an easier and less time consuming way for communication between both students and tutors. Plus the students, even if they are absent, they can always download the lectures and not miss them. A student also pointed out that handing over papers on the e-platform not only saves us more time but it is more definately user and environmentally friendly.

What do you think about the curriculum and what is your favourite subject and why?

The curriculum is remarkable and provides strong theoretical foundations which enable an OT student to become a knowledgeable, experienced and qualified occupational therapist. It also provides us with the ability to work abroad as a qualified OT. Moreover a valid point everybody mentioned was the existence of 4 practice placements which provide a holistic approach and view of OT (clinical reasoning, assessment tools, theoretical frame of reference etc.).

 I hope you enjoyed this informative blog and I look forward to talking to you soon!

Kind regards,

Emmanouela!

Moving Abroad to Work as an Occupational Therapist

Hi All! I am Jena, you may know me as the social media lead of SPOT Europe. I have just finished my pre-registration master’s at the University of Derby in England. I moved from Canada to complete my master’s and was exited to return home after 2 years away from amazing maple syrup, my family and friends, and views like this!

However, in the transition of moving home I have learned LOADS about moving abroad to work as an OT. While some of it is Canada specific, it can all be transferred to other countries.

MY TOP TIPS FOR MOVING ABROAD AS AN OT

1. Check what immigration policies are like for OTs 

This is easily the most boring part of the process. But, before you go through the process of applying for jobs and talking with employers make sure you will be able to move to this country and work! This is particularly important if you plan to move out of the European Union. It stinks to feel like you’ve wasted time and a dream on moving to a country that immigrating to is really hard or impossible!

2. Check the WFOT certification

Some countries require that all OTs attend a WFOT certified school, some need more, and some do not require WFOT certification. Find out what certifications the programme you attended have and if they are compatible with the country that you wish to migrate to. You can check all of those things here: https://www.wfot.org/programmes/education/wfot-approved-education-programmes .

3. Read the OT regulating body’s webpage AND CONTACT THEM

Almost every country has a group that makes sure OTs working in that country are properly trained. If you are interested in moving to a country, just google that country and occupational therapy/ergotherapie. I read the Canadian OT’s webpage on internationally educated occupational therapists over and over. However, I still got far more information when I e-mailed the representative. She was able to discuss with me things like what I could do prior to graduation to best prepare myself for working in Canada. She also gave me a few tips and tricks for the application process that were so helpful! It can be tempting to do things online, but speaking with a person involved is so helpful!

4. Be Prepared

After making sure you have a full understanding of what you need to do to get a license to practice OT in your new country, make sure you are ready to do all the steps that are required. Some preparation may be required. For example, in Canada and the USA you need to write a national exam and it is important to be ready for this to do well and pass!

5. Make a Budget and Start Saving!

Everyone’s migration will be different, so take a good look at your circumstances and make a budget. Will you need to move into an apartment before you get your first pay cheque? Do you need to pay to write an exam? Will you need to pay for a visa? How much will a plane cost? What about transporting all of your things to your new home? All of these things cost money and although it’s not a lot of fun, it will make you feel much better once you have arrived in your new home! Plus allocate some money to do fun things in your new home!!

6. Be Patient or Be Flexible

Some countries will be easy to immigrate to and work as an OT, some will be more complicated and take more time. If you are set on a location that takes a little while, be patient. Follow all the steps as best you can. If you’re like me and you’re not patient be prepared to be flexible. Either be flexible about your location and pick a different country to explore while you wait. Or be flexible about your job! Sometimes OT assistant jobs or jobs in a related field can be just as rewarding and will allow you to explore and live in a new country with less paper work! It’s up to you which route you want to go, but recognize that you will need to be patient or flexible.

7. Discover and Sell Your International Self!

Although it can be scary to apply for jobs in another country remember that you are bringing something unique and hard to come by! Use SPOT or another OT Facebook group to connect with OTs from the country you are hoping to immigrate to. Use these resources to highlight the differences and what potentially unique perspectives or ideas you can introduce to a service. Show how being an international OT will ADD to a service and its users! There are loads of conferences and online forums to help you get a good grasp on international OT and make informed choices!

Upcoming International Activities in Amsterdam!

COHEHRE event: November 4th-6th

“THE ETHICS IN BUILDING
SUSTAINABLE RELATIONSHIPS WITH COMMUNITY PARTNERS IN EDUCATION”

Check out the Cohere Academy which facilitates international conversation amongst several health care students! It’s a great time to swap ideas and get a feel for what OT may look like in other countries! Check it out here: http://www.cohehre.com/index.php/calendar/.

International Mobility Week: November 6th-8th

Another opportunity is the International Mobility week. This weeks theme is looking at marginalised groups in a range of settings! Find out more here: http://www.cohehre.com/index.php/event/1235/ or stay updated on our Facebook page!

End Of Academic Year!

This will be SPOTeurope’s last blog before the summer and we want to wish you all a great break! Congrats to those of you who are graduating and good luck if you’re about to start 2nd, 3rdor 4thyear! 

This post will feature an update on the Joint International Project and some tips for surviving the summer break!

UPDATE: Joint International Project on Health Promotion and Self-Management (JIP)

Introduction what’s JIP?

During March a JIP meeting was once again held in Winterthur, Switzerland. The Joint International Project on Health Promotion and Self-Management, short JIP, was initiated in 2012 and officially started at an international meeting hosted by the HAN University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands. One year later the Occupational Therapy departments of the fhg – University of Applied Sciences Tyrol in Innsbruck, Austria, the ZHAW in Winterthur, Switzerland and the HAN University of Applied Sciences in Nijmegen, started a pilot where it was possible for students from all three institutions to work together on a joint project. The idea was to promote more international activities and possibilities for working together, particularly as far as students’ involvement is concerned. During annual meetings students now have the opportunity to relate their BSc Thesis, MSc Project work or thesis to get in contact and exchange knowledge with students from international institutions.  

Participant experience 1: Leonie from the Netherlands

My name is Leonie and I’m a 22-year-old OT student in my 8th semester at the Hogeschool van Arnhem en Nijmegen (University of Applied Science) in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. I and 4 other students from Nijmegen were joining the Joint International Project in Winterthur, Switzerland in March 2019. It was a pleasure to be allowed to network with other international OT-students and docents from other universities. Through this project I learned a lot about how OT is organized in other countries, how other students learn and think about OT but also that we’re all the same in how we love our profession. The discussions during my time in Winterthur really helped me form my professional identity as an OT and made me feel like an international OT. Moreover, I learned a lot about my own qualities professionally and personally, but also about my interest in research. I made a lot of new contacts, this will help me form my future as an OT. I really appreciated the experience and would really recommend everyone that they have to join this project!

Participant experience 2: Verena from Austria

My name is Verena and I´m a 23-year-old Austrian student. I´m studying OT in my 6th semester at the University of Applied Sciences Tyrol, Innsbruck. Including me, two Masters students and two Bachelors students from our university were joining the JIP meeting in March 2019 in Winterthur. Besides a lot of international OT- networking with students and staff from several European universities, there was room to work on our own research projects. Once more I had the opportunity to experience the power of OT- peer support and professional exchange. The JIP contributed to gain more understanding and structure for my own Bachelor thesis. Moreover, becoming part of the international OT- community really helped in strengthening my occupational identity. So don´t miss the chance and enjoy the OT- flow!

OT related tips for summer!

We all know how important occupational balance is so it’s essential that we remember to balance ourselves too! So take the chance over the holidays to develop some non-Occupational Therapy related hobbies! After all an OT degree can mean a busy schedule with placement, studies and additional work and family responsibilities! 

Or, if you do want to do some OT related activities over the summer than check out some of the resources & tips we’ve provided below:

  • Watch a series or movie that includes an OT related topic- As OT is so varied there should be something for everyone! A few we can recommend include:

-The Intouchables (2011)
– The Intouchables (2011)
– A Beautiful Mind (2001)
– A mile in his shoes (2011)
– Mid-August Lunch (2008)
– Its Kind of a funny story (2010)
– Temple Grandin (2010)
– The dark Horse (2014)
– Still Mine (2012)
– One dat at a time (Netflix)
– Aytipical (Netflix)

  • Search for some volunteering or shadowing work if you’ve not had much experience of the sector yet
  • Try to source cheaper OT books from graduating students who no longer need them
  • Get connected on social media, its much easier to come across interesting research topics and new ideas when you’re not trying to look for them!
  • Share some of your activities with us- The summer break is a great time to reflect on your studies, placements and any additional events that have influenced your OT journeys
  • Plan a MINISPOT at your university- Our new ‘How-To’ guide to get started with your own MINISPOT is online and ready to use!
  • Consider if you want to be part of SPOTeurope board. Since part of our board has graduated, upcoming months we will be busy with recruiting new members. Stay tuned!!!

The board of SPOTeurope wishes you all a wonderful summer holiday, may it be filled with fun, drinks, vacations and lots of other things so you are able to start fresh again in september.

Have a good summer break! 😀

Occupational Therapy in a Driving Assessment Centre

Hi, I’m Natalie, the SPOTeurope blogger and this week I’ll share with you my first placement experience! I have just finished my first year at Worcester University in the UK, where we have five placements over three years of study. This placement was part time 2.5 days a week for 10 weeks, with lectures and seminars the other 2 days of the week. 

What is a Regional Driving Assessment Centre?

The Regional Driving Assessment Centre (RDAC) is a charity that provides driving and access assessments for anyone looking to maintain or regain their independence with driving. I was able to get involved with assessments both at the Head Office in Birmingham, and at two outreach centres in Worcester and Leamington Spa. 

Driving is an essential occupation for many people and when it is lost it can prevent us from being independent and doing some of the activities we enjoy! Occupational Therapists have an important role working with Approved Driving Advisors (ADA’s) to enable people to drive comfortably and safely.

What is the driving assessment process?

The process begins with an initial interview to find out more about the clients situation and how it is affecting their driving. If appropriate, paper based cognitive tests will be completed and any available adaptations (such as hand controls) may be tested in the centre before the in-car assessment.

Next a practical on-road driving assessment will take place, and both the Occupational Therapist and the Approved Driving Advisor will observe the drive and discuss the safest outcome in the best interests of the client. This may include recommendations to retire from driving or to continue practicing driving, with or without adaptations to maintain or develop existing skills. In either case, practical advice will be given to allow the client to retain their independence safely and for as long as possible.

The image below shows the basic steps in the process, although this appears simple, finding driving solutions specific to each individual made every day slightly different.

Some of you may recognise these images from my ‘Day in the Life’ on SPOTeurope’s Instagram! If you haven’t seen them check them out @SPOTeurope!

*Thanks to all at RDAC for permission to use the photos*

What adaptations are available?

Hand controls and steering aids were the most commonly recommended adaptation throughout my placement. These included a steering ball, push pull hand brake & accelerator, under ring and Lodgesons wireless keypad control. These were commonly used for clients with limited or no movement in their lower limbs, and also clients with limited upper limb movement for example post stroke. Less common hand controls I was able to see on assessments included a joystick control and a mini steering wheel.

There were other adaptations including left foot accelerators, easy release handbrakes and swivel chairs to aid in vehicle transfers.

Luckily I had a couple of chances to try some adaptations myself, this was challenging as I am not usually a confident driver! But looking back I can really see how it helped me to appreciate how difficult it can be for someone to adjust to a new way of driving in order to retain their independence.


What other services are there?

At my placement I had the chance to observe different types of assessments and discovered services that I wasn’t aware existed! These included:

  • A Car Seat Clinic: Here, different child car seats would be at hand for the client to try and the one with the best seating position would be recommended.  
  • A Tryb4uFly Assessment: Using real aeroplane cabin seats, the OT  would demonstrate a range of seating and transfer equipment and recommend the one with the most suitable postural support. 
  • Access Assessment: Home visits are made to offer different transfer options between a wheelchair and a vehicle and the most appropriate would be recommended. 
  • Bugzi Assessment: A MERU Bugzi is a powered indoor wheelchair for children aged one to six. They are available to loan and enable children with disabilities to experience independent mobility. An assessment includes the chance to try a Bugzi and the OT will offer advice on completing a loan application. 

During my placement I was able to visit SIRUS, an automotive specialist that manufactured many wheelchair accessible vehicles and fitted car adaptations. As someone who doesn’t know much about cars this was really useful for me to see what adaptations are possible and how they can enable a client’s independence! 

I then attended NAIDEX, a disability and independent living event where I got the chance to visit the Motability stand and learn more about the options around leasing a new car, scooter or powered wheelchair. This was my first time at NAIDEX and as a first-year student the number of different stands was both overwhelming and exciting, and showed such diversity in the areas an OT can become involved in!

Overall this was a great first placement experience, I had the chance to meet a wide range of people of all ages and saw many different conditions! Every assessment was unique, and I soon came to realise even the most experienced Occupational Therapists and Approved Driving Advisors still came across conditions they hadn’t heard of before! This helped improve my confidence when interviewing clients about how they felt their condition impacted their driving. This highlighted how meaningful driving can be, both as an enjoyable activity and a way of maintaining independence.

Thanks to this placement I have now gained an awareness of what services are available to support peoples independent mobility that I can pass on to anyone who will benefit!

Student news: OT school in Bremen & Hand Therapy Project.

Our school ‘Fachschule für Ergotherapie’ is the only school for Occupational Therapy in Bremen. It was founded in 2015 and is located in the northern part of Bremen.

In 2018, it got the WFOT approval and became a member of ENOTHE. We have about sixty students in three classes and four teachers as well as several guest lecturers.

To the school administration it is very important that we work and learn practically; which means that we work in projects for example in elementary schools, homes for the elderly and those with mental health conditions.

The education is not only based on theory but mainly on different case studies. We are currently working on a study with a six year old boy called David. The subject is to learn about pediatrics: low muscle tone and sensory processing disorder.Mrs. Winter, another case study, helps us to understand the details of geriatrics and the related consequences.

In Germany, the apprenticeship for occupational therapists takes three years and is followed by an exam. After the successful completion of the apprenticeship it is possible to study and achieve a Bachelor’s or a Master’s degree.

A subject of discussion is that in some of the German states the apprentices have to pay a monthly fee to go to school. These costs are not covered by the government. In the state of Bremen the current cost for the education is 180 € per month. The consequence is that the money discourages some people from starting the Occupational Therapy education. It is planned that by the end of the summer at the latest, the fee will disappear completely.


About me:

My name is Martyna Gwiazda, I am currently studying Occupational Therapy in Wroclaw, Poland. In this article, I seek to present my next multidisciplinary project which I have high prospects for.

What is the project?

My next project sees me cooperating with individuals from other degree disciplines instead of students from areas within Occupational Therapy like my previous project. I mostly worked with students of Physiotherapy and Mechanics and our approach can be broken down into many systematic steps.

Firstly, we explored the plan extensively not just with each other but with professional Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists. This was so we could carry out anupper and lower extremity test.The result was creating a device/apparatus to develop the Palmar Flexion of the wrist. Below you can see an initial concept design created by our main Mechanic student:

This device/apparatus is made from metal, makes use of springs so that its powered by users’ muscles, and uses four props for support. 

Was it successful?

I am satisfied with the initial results of the project and it highlights the significance of working in a group. 

The main positives of working in a multi-professional team is taking advantage of different perspectives on research methods and solutions. It also builds a strong base for future career development and lets professionals gain a new source of inspiration. Another skill that is developed is interpersonal skills.

Recently I’m working on a new project and I’m convinced about continuing with the positives of multi-professional collaboration. Incase there are any events about the role of OT and the healthcare system please feel welcome to inform me. Also, I’d like to create new wonderful concepts and solutionsAt the national and international stage.

Rehabilitation Centre in Switzerland: An OT perspective!

Introduction…

Jelena, 23 years old, studies Occupational Therapy (grade 4) at ZUYD Hogeschool in Heerlen. She and a friend of hers, Lea Gnida, went to Switzerland to do an internship. They were both looking very forward to their trip to Switzerland. They worked as interns in a rehabilitation centre in Valens, a small village on top of a mountain with a height of about 1000 meters. The rehabilitation centre was located in a large building where a lot of people from different backgrounds are working. In this centre work a lot of different specialized teams such as: occupational therapists, physiotherapists, creative therapists, music therapists, equine therapists, speech therapists, nurses, and doctors. The first three days of the internship were mainly to get to know the rehabilitation centre and to get familiar with their treatment plans. After those three days Jelena was made fully responsible for her own clients and work. Especially in the beginning she found this very difficult. She was not used to work all by herself because she had never been put in a situation like this during her previous internships.

How easy was it to adjust to the language?

During her first weeks in Switzerland, Jelena experienced also some difficulties with speaking and understanding Swiss. Jelena was born in Germany. She told me that she watched television series in Swiss and bought a Swiss language book to learn and understand more about the language before actually going to Switzerland. During her internship Jelena soon noticed that Swiss was even more difficult to understand than expected. Fortunately (almost) all of the therapists and clients spoke German, so it was very handy for Jelena. Everybody was very understanding and gave Jelena the time to learn and understand the language. After several weeks she was finally able to understand people who lived nearby the rehabilitation centre. However, the dialects from other parts of Switzerland were sometimes too difficult to understand.

Jelena said that it helped a lot that she spoke German, but she also thinks that someone from the Netherlands who has some knowledge of the German language will not encounter any problems with understanding Swiss.

Many of the people Jelena worked with were not from Switzerland and spoke German with each other a lot of the time.

Was it an international team?

During the team consults people from different professions consulted with each other about various topics. Differences between the various disciplines were not seen as important because there were working many people from different countries, with different professions. Once in a while they also held team meetings, during these meetings therapists were able to talk about cases in which they experienced some difficulties. After those meetings they planned a consult with the client in which they gave some information about the different treatments they had given so far. By doing so, the whole team was able to think about how they could improve and maybe even change their treatment plans. Jelena said that she found these meetings always very interesting and that she learned a lot from these meetings.

How was the experience in general?

Jelena said she had a very pleasant stay in Switzerland. The one thing she didn’t like was being away from home for three months and not being able to see her boyfriend and friends. Of course, she was very happy that she was able to go to Switzerland with her friend Lea, so she wasn’t all alone. Jelena and Lea shared a room in a house were the rest of the staff was also housed. In this house they had to share a kitchen and a bathroom with other roommates.

Jelena told me that she received an internship fee which was about 1200 Swiss Francs (± 900 euro). She had to pay about 450 euros for her room. In Switzerland everything is a little bit more expensive than in the Netherlands or in Germany. Mostly meat was very pricey. So, Jelena and Lea decided that they were going to eat more veggies and less meat during their stay in Switzerland.

What did the internship include?

Jelena worked 42 hours per week at the rehabilitation centre, but there were some weeks that she worked overtime. In the morning they always began with an ADL-observation and after this the individual treatments followed. In the afternoon she always helped out with group therapy sessions. These therapies took place at different locations, for example at a school. At these locations there were different rooms with a bed, kitchen etc. During her internship Jelena was able to do a lot of her work independently. By doing so, she noticed very quickly what was good for her and what wasn’t.

Her supervisors were only present during treatments when needed. This was something that Jelena experienced as very pleasant. At first, she tried to work very precisely, so she was always very busy after work and in the weekends because she had to prepare a lot of things on beforehand. At one point, she noticed that this was too much for her to handle and she decided to make a change. She tried to do some of the work during the therapy sessions, so she immediately could learn from her mistakes. This made Jelena feel more stress-resistant. She also was very happy that there wasn’t always someone checking up on her and looking over her shoulders while working. When she needed help, she could always count on her supervisor. ‘Everyone was so nice and kind to me. Everyone always wanted to help me’.

Once a month Jelena talked with a teacher from her school in the Netherlands via Skype. During these sessions they talked about personal matters but also about her internship.

How did you spend your free time?

Of course, Jelena was not always working during her internship. The surrounding areas of the rehabilitation centre were very beautiful. She loved to hike in the mountains and she also went to a ski area which was close by. In this ski area they went up and down the mountains with a sled and there was also a funicular railway. Near the rehabilitation centre was a city where Jelena went shopping, to the movies or had dinner with some friends. During the weekends they took the car and travelled through the area. It was very useful for Jelena and Lea to have a car, because the public transport in Switzerland was very expensive.   

Would you recommend it?

Jelena would definitely go back to Switzerland if she had the chance. She learned a lot from her internship because it was a place where a lot of independence was required. It is also very important that you can cope with stressful situations, if you are interested in doing an internship like this. One of the main reasons why she enjoyed this internship so much was because she worked with people from different nationalities and disciplines. These people had very different views and ideas about work. So, Jelena learned a lot about multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural work. The rehabilitation centre was a very nice place to work where you could always learn from everyone and from every experience.

Guest blog experience: OT internship in Linköping, Sweden

About me

My name is Jurn Veenstra, I am a 24-year old Occupational Therapy student. I have started my 4th semester of my education at Zuyd Hogeschool in Heerlen. I had the opportunity to do an internship abroad and learn more about the world of Occupational Therapy (OT). I made the decision to go to Sweden’s 6th largest city, Linköping. I have lived there from the beginning of August till 11 December. In Linköping I did an internship at a university hospital. During this period, I was working together at the hospital with a multi-disciplinary team.

In August I started with an intensive Swedish course of 4 weeks.

In our first school week we had a so-called international week where we learnt the basics of the Swedish (again) language and some medical terminology. During the international week I met a lot of fellow international students who were living in the same neighbourhood as me.

I made the decision to do my internship in Sweden because it seemed very interesting to me to work and live abroad, I heard that Occupational Therapy should be on a higher level then back home and because of the fact that Sweden was always on the to visit list. It was also a great opportunity for me to learn more about Sweden and have a little holiday break as well.

I was most scared about the fact that it was going to be just me, living independently in Sweden. Here, in the Netherlands there are always friends and family who live close by and can give advice and support to you when needed. In Sweden I was going to be all by myself which was very exciting for me.

What was the internship?

During my stay in Linköping I worked at two different units located in the same building. One unit was a neurological care division for people who required serious care after they had been in a motorcycle accident or stroke for example. The orthopaedics unit was for students who were following a medical training in Swedish. These students were responsible for maintaining a daily structure. During the two weeks I had worked there it was our responsibility, as international students, to observe and evaluate daily tasks. Sometimes we also helped the team out. During this period, I have learnt how to measure the blood pressure, how to draw blood and how to check for blood cells under a microscope.

At the revalidation unit I was responsible for the care of four patients, with the help of my supervisor of course. These patients needed several hours of therapy a day, like a wheelchair training, arm-hand function training and activities of daily living like cooking. We also went on house visits. We worked with the same process model as we use in the Netherlands, named CPPF.

I was already familiar with this model because I had used it for some projects I had done in an earlier stage of my study. We also used FIM assessments, PRPP observations, Los Ranchos Amigos Scale and other assessments.

When I look back on my time in Sweden and my internship, I can conclude that OT in Sweden is very similar to OT in the Netherlands. The guidance and advice of my supervisor has been really helpful. She translated everything for me during meetings with professionals and with patients who couldn’t speak English.

One thing which was very surprising for me, was the fact the hospital was not familiar with ICF domains. This was something that still had to be implemented. They were planning to do so in the future.

I had a very pleasant stay in Sweden and had a great time during my internship. I have had no negative experiences, besides for being sick for a week. When I was sick, I quickly noticed that the health care system in Sweden is very different in comparison with the Dutch health care system. I had to call different doctors and hospitals before I got the help I needed. The waiting time was also extremely long. Because of this I had to extend my stay for two weeks to make sure I had worked enough hours at the hospital. During this time a lot of people I became friends with were already back home and this made me feel kind of lonely. At this time I wanted to go home as soon as possible.

What was most surprising to me was that you can communicate in different ways with patients although there is a language barrier. You can use sign or body language. I found this very interesting and I would like to do an additional course for sign language as soon as I finish this study.

I bought a bike which was very useful to make my way through town or to the hospital as well. You could go from one side to the other in half an hour (more or less). The other Dutch student had a car sometimes we used it to go to places which was very handy!

Exploring Sweden

Besides working there was also time for some relaxation of course. I have travelled a lot through Sweden. I have visited Stockholm multiple times, Kiruna, Narvik and the surrounding areas of Linköping (I saw the northern lights in the last 3 places). We also went to ice hockey games and had drinks and dinners with other students from the hospital.

The most important thing I have learned from this experience is that even though you don’t speak the native language of a country it is still possible to communicate with people and to accomplish your goals.

I would describe my stay in Sweden in two words, both exciting and interesting. I would definitely recommend other students to go abroad but I would also like to remind them to look up some information about a country on beforehand. By doing so you will be guaranteed that you are going to a place where OT is known and where you can learn a lot.

UNAEE: National Association of French OT students

The first UNAEE event of 2019 took place in Nevers, France, in March!

But first, what’s UNAEE?

UNAEE is the National Association of French OT students. Its main goals are to defend French OT student’s rights and interests, to represent them within deciding bodies of the institutions and give them opportunities in order to make the most out of their studies. The UNAEE was also created to build a network between the OT students from the various institutes in France. That is why we organize yearly events gathering OT students from all over the country! 

So what was this event?

During a rainy March weekend, our “Week-end de formation” or “WEF” took place in Nevers. It gathered about 170 students from all over France. The weekend’s theme was voted by the students via Facebook and they chose “Occupational therapy and mental health”. 

What happened during the WEF?

The weekend started off with the UNAEE’s general assembly where the UNAEE board members presented their current projects. 

After a very amusing laughter yoga collective session, the workshops began. On Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, the students participated in a series of workshops and lectures touching on “OT and mental health”, but also about opportunities that are available to them and their rights as OT students. For example, some OT professionals came to talk to us about working as an OT in a prison setting, the OT intervention with patients on the autism spectrum or suffering from addictions, mindfulness and OT, etc. 

Students from other health care professions also came to exchange on the importance of interdisciplinary work when caring for patients suffering from mental health issues. Students could also participate in workshops such as “How to organize an event?”, “How to bring sustainable development to your institute?” and “How to build an international solidarity project?”.


I got the chance to lead a workshop to promote international mobility and had some of my fellow students testify about some of their experiences abroad and we answered the student’s questions. Camille talked about her 2 months placement experience in Quebec, Canada whereas Margot shared with us her experience at the ENOTHE annual event in Portugal. She and François presented their adventure in Madagascar as members of the 2018 PSIEE (the UNAEE’s international solidarity project). I was also able to promote SPOT and the mini SPOT concept. I really wanted to show the many ways in which experiencing internationalization is possible.

To top it off, we all got to celebrate and have fun Saturday night all dressed up and colorful in our 80s inspired outfits! 

All in all, the best part of the week-end is being able to witness the French OT student network come to life thanks to new encounters as well as being reunited with friends you’ve met during previous UNAEE events!

Emma SCHLINQUER

Vice-President in charge of international relations and mobility at the UNAEE 

2ndyear OT student in Lille, France

International Thesis in Bali, Indonesia

My international experience with a thesis in Bali, Indonesia

About me

My name is Naomi de Graaf, I am a 22 year old Occupational Therapy student at the University of Arnhem and Nijmegen (HAN) in the Netherlands. This year I started my fourth (last) year of education. It consists of a half year thesis (first semester) and a half year internship (second semester). Now I am doing an internship in a hospital in the Netherlands, but before that I did a thesis in Bali for 3 months. I am very excited to share my experiences with you! I was there from October 2nd till January 15th, 2018/2019.

 

Bali, Indonesia

Bali is a small island in Indonesia, South East Asia. Compared to other islands of Indonesia, Bali is already the most westernized. My stay was the Indonesian concept of luxury, I had my own studio with shared pool. Through a teacher from my university I had a contact person in Bali, who helped to find shelter, visa and so on. I quickly felt at home in Bali because of the incredibly friendly people, the free and relaxed life, warm weather and the beautiful nature. When I returned to the Netherlands, I had more problems with a culture shock, because of everything that must be done quickly in Europe and the high expectations. In Bali traffic is very busy, they drive on the left and there are many scooters. I had to ride scooter in Bali- At the beginning I found this very scary, but at the end I managed to drive through all the traffic and I loved it!

Thesis

I did research in Bali together with two other Occupational Therapy students and two Physiotherapy students in a hospital setting. In Bali, they didn’t promote the importance of rehabilitation and exercise after stroke to its full potential. The project had been developing for two years and our part was to implement the already made leaflets with exercises for home rehabilitation.

I have learned that it is very important to adapt to the culture. In addition, we as a group have learned to work more independently. I found the difference between a hospital in The Netherlands and Bali very interesting. The collaboration between the professionals was not always successful and they didn’t use guidelines effectively. Because of this I realised the importance of these behaviours. Working in a multidisciplinary group created a challenge; the Physiotherapy students preferred different work methods than the Occupational Therapy students. I have learned to share my opinion and have the confidence to know when to adapt myself or not. I would recommend everyone to do your thesis abroad or in a multidisciplinary group, because you learn a lot personally and professionally!

Occupational Therapy in Asia

Occupational Therapy isn’t as widely established in Bali as in The Netherlands, but it doesn’t matter! You can learn a lot, because we had to promote our profession and transfer our knowledge from Europe. By sharing your knowledge, you learn again.

I hope you enjoyed my experiences!

Greetings, Naomi de Graaf

The FAB Program- Connecting OT students from Finland, Austria & Belgium

Hello, I’m Tom Pauwaert from Belgium and I’m in my final year studying OT and got the opportunity to join the FAB program. 

So what is the FAB program?

The FAB project is a very unique project because it’s the only joint degree at bachelor level in Europe. It’s a joint program in the last semester of your study as an OT with approximately 20 students in total and 12 teachers from Metropolia University in Finland, FH Campus Wien in Austria and Artevelde University College in Ghent. It consists of 6 modules.

The first one was in Belgium in December, where we went on an urban exploration and got divided into groups of 5 to explore a district in Ghent. In this exploration we talked to a lot of people from different nationalities and asked about their occupation. On Friday every group gave a presentation about their district in a creative way. 

With this way of teaching rather than sitting in a classroom and listening to a teacher, we could teach our fellow students about the key concepts like:

-Urbanization & Community Development

-Gentrification & Inclusive design

-Occupational justice

-Transformation through occupation

-Occupation consciousness of the districts.

In February there was a week in Helsinki, Finland.

There, the theme of the week was module 2: “the future of OT by 2030”. There were really broad themes such as technology, internationalization, demographic changes and participation for working life. The brainstorming sessions were about where and what OT’s will do in the future. It was fascinating to see the different perspectives from every group. Each group presented what the emerging roles might be in the future.

After the week in Helsinki all the students are doing an internship abroad for 12 weeks in module 3. In my case, I’m currently doing an internship in neurology in the Donauspital in Vienna. All the students are doing module 4: Health Promotion at the university that is responsible for them during the internship. There we are working in small groups about health prevention and health promotion. During you’re internship you get time to write your bachelor thesis, that’s the 5th module.

In June we will have the final week module 6 of the FAB project in Vienna. Here we will go further into urban exploration, building up on the knowledge we achieved in Belgium.

 What was your overall experience of the program?

In my case, this project has been an outstanding experience so far. This cooperation is beneficial for your personal development as an OT but also learning about the cultural differences between the countries and in fields which OT’s work. In little groups during the week you get to know everybody from the FAB project really good and we’re becoming one big family.

This project will grow in the future and I would recommend it! It has shown me that during this week you get motivated by the teamwork. After every week I come home inspired and ready to go further in my development as an OT! 

If you have a further question you can reach me at:

Instagram: tpauwie

International Mobility Week- Would YOU take part?

This week’s post is all about International Mobility Weeks!

What are they?

International mobility weeks enable students from different locations to get together and exchange ideas about being an Occupational Therapist in their country. They consist of lectures, workshops and group activities, helping to develop a professional identity and understand alternative approaches to OT.

Each mobility week generally focuses on a particular topic, such as “Public Health” or “Primary Care” and would include relevant discussions about current issues or challenges within that sector. Throughout the mobility week, students would work together on a project and reflect on their learning and the benefits of sharing their ideas.

There are three mobility weeks each year:

  1. November in Amsterdam at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS)
  2. January in Winterthur at the ZHAW 
  3. May in Stockholm at the Karolinska Institute

 

Lisa Poland, reflects on her experience in Switzerland!

In the week of 14th– 18th of January 2019 I went, together with three other students of the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, to the mobility week in Switzerland. The university where the mobility week was held was the ZHAW in Winterthur. The theme of this week was ‘Professional Identity and it’s visibility’.

This course was only available for OT students and we talked about the contribution of Occupational Therapy compared to the other professions. We also discussed ways how we can promote Occupational Therapy throughout the world. During the course we worked together in different groups with students from different countries. This was very nice since everybody was very enthusiastic and open to new ideas. This also gave us the opportunity to discuss some of the differences in Occupational Therapy between our countries.

In the mobility week we completed multiple interactive assignments. These all contributed to the final product; which was a poster presentation. Before the presentation we needed to make a poster where we explained Occupational Therapy to a specific target group. During the presentation this poster was presented taking into account the target group to which the poster was addressed.

Beside the course we also had the chance to discover some of Switzerland. We walked around, went shopping in Winterthur and also visited the viewpoint, which gave us a beautiful outlook across town. This was very enjoyable, but there were also more attractions in Winterthur such as the different art museums and castles. As well as Winterthur, we also had the opportunity to see the biggest waterfall, the Rheinfall.

In short, it was a very interesting week which we were glad not to have missed! It was an enriching experience for each and every one of us and we would do it again in an instant!

 

 

 

 

I recommend everyone to participate in a mobility week so you can broaden your knowledge and learn about OT from different perspectives and cultures!

Greetings,

Lisa Poland

Second year BSc student at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences

Feel free to contact me at lisa.poland@hva.nl if you have any questions 😊

 

Upcoming Mobility Week in Sweden!

The next mobility week will take place at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm. The theme for the week is ‘Professional Identity from a Global Perspective’, and will include thought provoking seminars and lectures around current global health issues. The deadline to apply is 5thApril 2019.

 

Greetings world from wintery Denmark!


About me

My name is Marie, I am a 26-year-old OT student and I’ve just started my 5thsemester (out of seven, they are 6 months each) of my education at UCN, University College Nordjylland.                                I have been a part of SPOTEurope for about a year now or at least since last years COHEHRE conference in Belgium where I met sweet Marlies, who introduced me to the SPOT world.

For the moment I am very busy with our exams plus starting an internship and so forth. Student life, you know? But I am currently working on starting a MINI spot at my university. I have spoken to some other universities in Denmark and we are all very keen on starting the project. It is still an ongoing project and we are only in the beginning phase, but I have no doubt that the MINI spot will happen very soon in Denmark. But Rome wasn’t built in one day (as far as I know)!

 

International Project GO4EOT

In the end of last year, I also attended an international project called GO4EOT with students from Belgium, Sweden and Austria – I was the only Dane. We all met on Skype and discussed different target groups in our countries and how they were deprived of occupation.  We were then divided into groups where we chose a specific area to work with- my group chose inmates, who are about to be released from prison. We did a lot of work researching, talking to people who work with our target group and so on. All in all, a very exciting and fun project. Plus, we had a lot of fun in my group even though we could not see each other face to face since everything was done via Skype!

 

National OT Association: Ergoterapeutforeningen 

Lastly, I am pleased to share that the national OT association in Denmark, Ergoterapeutforeningen has reached out to me. They are doing an interview with me where, I amongst other things, talk about SPOTEurope. The association has a magazine that comes out every month and the next issue is about international collaboration and so they contacted me. It’s very exciting to promote my international interests and SPOTEurope! Hopefully it can encourage more students to travel internationally. AND make more people aware of SPOTEurope and what we do. Besides that, I am about to become the Danish student representative for the OT association, and I will definitely make sure that SPOTEurope is heard and promoted!

That is all for now! Hope everybody is doing great!

Feel free to get in touch if you have questions or want to know more information 😊

Marie

SPOT – News & Activities

 

Just giving everyone an update about SPOT’s recent activities and exciting ideas for the future!

As SPOTeurope develops there will be a few role changes and a lot more opportunities for YOU to become involved in sharing your experiences! 

See below for an update from each of the SPOT board members:

(more info on each member can be found on The Board page)

 

Marlies – President

Over the past months a lot of changes happened within SPOT. First of all (and sadly) we’ve waved Maurane and Valia goodbye because they are now qualified OT’s (yay them!). Luckily we welcomed two new wonderful board members, Alex & Natalie, who will bring new energy and refreshing ideas into our team 🙂

As a (new) team we’re making new plans and progress on taking SPOT to the next level. You can expect the ‘How-to guide’ for the Mini SPOTs very soon, just like the (long promised 😉) map of all the OT schools in Europe. Thank you to the students who are already developing the mini SPOT’s and sharing SPOT within Uni; we’re growing really fast! Keep up this great work.

Besides my tasks for SPOT, I’ve been part of the ENOTHE’s board since the ENOTHE annual meeting in October 2018, as the first Student Board Member. I’m involved in the day to day tasks and decisions within this board. In a few months I’ll write a blog about my experiences and tasks as a board member, so you all will have a better idea on what I’m doing! If you have ideas or changes you’d like to see within the OT education / ENOTHE : please let me know! I’m your voice and would love to share it.

Lastly, I want to thank Lottie with all my heart. She’s stepping down from her role as Vice President very soon. Lottie was the first one to join me in SPOT and without her, SPOT wouldn’t exist like it’s now. We’re going to miss you!


Charlotte – Vice President

After nearly 2 years in the role of Vice President, I am stepping down and handing my role over to Cassandra, (our Mini SPOT Coordinator).

I hope she enjoys her time as much as I have! My SPOT journey has taught me so much about occupational therapy across Europe. I’ve had some amazing experiences, in some amazing locations, and feel very proud to have contributed to SPOT’s growth.

Thank you to all the students, practitioners and educators who have also been part of that.

Let’s be sure to stay in touch!


Cassandra – Mini SPOT Coordinator/ soon to be Vice President

SPOT has grown a lot in the last year and this makes me very happy ! I started as the Mini SPOT Coordinator one year ago. Since then, I have worked on developing knowledge around the mini SPOT’s, created a ‘How-to guide’ and supported other students who wanted to set up a mini SPOT.

In the upcoming year I will be part of SPOT in a different way. Our current Vice President Charlotte will step down soon and I will pursue her role. I am really looking forward to this and hope to meet lots of new OT students!

Please contact me at vicepresident@spoteurope.eu if you have any questions!

Anything relating to mini SPOT’s please email Alex at outreach@spoteurope.eu


Alex – Outreach Coordinator

I first learned about SPOT at the 2017 ENOTHE AM in Zagreb. I was really intrigued by their ideas for internationalisation and student exchange so I became a student representative for my university in Innsbruck, Austria. In the past year I’ve tried to promote SPOT and get my colleagues interested in international activities and student exchange. A few months ago I then joined the SPOT board as Outreach Coordinator. Since then I’ve been establishing and maintaining contact with students and lecturers across Europe, helping them with their own activities including setting up mini SPOT’s.

My aim is to spread awareness of SPOT and help anyone who is interested to get on board!

With Cassandra pursuing her position as Vice President, her old role and mine will be merged and I’ll take over her responsibilities.

If you have any questions on how to get involved or need inspiration setting things up at your school/university, feel free to contact me anytime at outreach@spoteurope.eu


Jena – Social Media Lead

Our social media has continued to grow and we are so happy about that!! We are looking forward to having 1000 Facebook likes!

Highlights of our social media include #mememonday and self-care Sunday!

Check us out on Facebook, twitter, and Instagram 

We are also hoping to start a “day in the life of an OT student” on our Instagram stories, so if you’re interested in showing SPOT what you get up to every day message us on Instagram @SPOTeurope!!


Natalie – Blogger

I’m currently searching for future guest bloggers that would be interested in sharing their activities and experiences of Occupational Therapy!

Guest blogs can include information about: placements, student activities, conferences & events, interesting news articles and more!

Please get in touch if you have something you want us to share or you are interested in writing a guest blog!

Email me at  blogger@spoteurope.eu or contact me through Twitter @Nat_Pickering

 

New Year- New SPOT Blogger!

Hi, I’m Natalie 🙂   The new blogger for SPOTeurope!

About Me

I’m a first year student at the University of Worcester in the UK.
I’ve only just started my OT journey and have lots more to learn over the next three years!

I’m excited to be part of SPOT to share new perspectives and opportunities for us as students. I really believe in the benefits of internationalisation and sharing our experiences to support each other and promote our incredible profession! I have an interest in the Arts and anything creative, especially if its combined with improving wellbeing 🙂

 

The Blog

The aim of the blog is to connect OT students in Europe and the world through posting interesting news, activities, tips and experiences we have as students!

Articles will be posted twice a month, on Wednesdays. Some posts will be my me, but most will be by students like you! or other people linked to Occupational Therapy.

 

My role

I am on the lookout for people who want to share their experiences relating to Occupational Therapy!

This list below has a few suggestions but we are happy to include new ideas if you have them!

  • Experiences on placement
  • Student activities (Mini SPOT’s, mobility weeks, workshops, guest speakers etc)
  • Service users experiences of OT
  • Interesting conferences or events
  • News and current topics around OT and healthcare
  • OT practitioners and current research
  • Emerging OT roles of the future

Everyone has the opportunity to become involved! 

Guest blogs can be written by anyone with an interest in Occupational Therapy: students, service users, practitioners, researchers, other health professionals, the list goes on!

Don’t worry, creating an article is quick and simple! I can offer support and guidance to help you write your blog post and include any photos or videos you want to show.

 

Please get in touch if you have something you want us to share or you are interested in writing a guest blog!

Email me at  blogger@spoteurope.eu or contact me through Twitter @Nat_Pickering

Look forward to hearing from you all! 🙂

Attending the 2018 WFOT Congress as an OT student: my 8 very best moments!

Published by Maurane, on behalf of author Charlotte, SPOTeurope vice-president.

WFOT 2018 de Maurane

Hi everyone!

As some of you may know, I was lucky enough to win an RCOT competition (Royal College of Occupational Therapists) for funding to attend the WFOT Congress in South Africa this year.

I’ve just finished my second year of university and, although I’ve learnt a lot about OT (and myself), the WFOT Congress was perhaps more formative than any part of my OT journey so far!

I’d really like to share this experience with everyone, so here are my 8 best WFOT moments:

 

1. Marlene Le Roux

I knew this conference was going to be special when, in the opening ceremony, Marlene La Roux shared this powerful statement; “Occupational Therapy means you must be an activist.” We cannot limit our work to fitting ramps (for example); we have a responsibility to challenge attitudes, and see the bigger picture, using our skills to make change. This theme continued to grow throughout the conference. It was so exciting to see so many Occupational Therapists who were both passionate and political.

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IpqIVz5jXcI

2. Elelwani Ramugondo: Healing work:  Intersections of Decoloniality

Elelwani Ramugondo’s keynote address introduced me to the concepts of occupational consciousness and decolonising health and Occupational Therapy. It was an incredibly powerful address which I am still reflecting on. As a result, I’m consciously unpicking my professional interactions and assumptions. I’m trying to ensure I am supporting the decolonisation of OT, not merely sustaining (and benefitting from) dominant practice. I’m also obsessed with reading her work, which should definitely be featured within our curriculum!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S96IIytPG9I

 

3. Hippotherapy

The WFOT congress wasn’t just workshops and presentations, there were also site visits. I was lucky enough to visit an OT at a local stables who runs hippotherapy sessions. Hippotherapy uses horse riding as a therapeutic occupation for increased balance, bilateral coordination, sensory integration, etc. It’s a fascinating area of practice and a really rare opportunity to see it in action! Check out the video made just for SPOTeurope.

 

https://twitter.com/SPOTeurope/status/1000415853177958400

 

4. GAPA Grannies (Grandmothers Against Poverty and Aids).

A really special feature at WFOT was the keynote address by service users in South Africa. It helped put Occupational Therapy into context and remind everyone who we are working for. The GAPA Grannies are such engaging story tellers. They shared their experiences of raising their grandchildren, the fight against Aids and poverty, and the value of being part of a group of people with shared experiences. You can see their presentation, as well as those from the other service user’s, here and here is their beautiful song.

http://www.gapa.org.za/

 

5. Student session

The student session consisted of a panel of inspiring Occupational Therapists talking about their individual OT journey and answering questions from students. They all had such different career paths and motivations, it was exciting to see there can be so much variation within our profession.

Here is some of the insight they offered:

https://twitter.com/SPOTeurope/status/1000086336928350208

https://twitter.com/SPOTeurope/status/999757524302786560

6. OT in natural disaster

When I think of disaster relief, I think of Doctors and Nurses swooping in and saving lives. I was curious to know where OT fits in, so I attended an afternoon of poster presentations on the subject.

I learnt that in a recent Japanese earthquake approximately twice as many disabled people died than non-disabled people. There are teams of OTs working with vulnerable communities to put plans in place should disaster strike. I was amazed to realise that, whilst others are picking up the pieces after a disaster, OTs are working behind the scenes to ensure it doesn’t claim as many lives in the first place, or disproportionality effect the most vulnerable. Our role is disaster preparedness!

 

7. Karen Whalley-Hammell: Building Globally Relevant Occupational Therapy from the Strength of our Diversity

Karen Whalley-Hammell’s keynote address challenged the predominantly white, female, middle class, western, non-disabled perspective that our research and theory comes from. She suggested that we have a habit of viewing these perspectives as the norm which is an “assertion of colonial power.” She offered lots of critique of our occupation categorisations and made strong arguments for a move towards co-occupations and interdependence to increase health and wellbeing. Not only was this fascinating and important, it will also be super useful in future assignments!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WipUPXx_Kk

8. Meeting new people and sharing a connection

I am not a naturally sociable person.. but the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with OTs and students from around the world was incredibly inspiring! I met people whose work I have followed, others who I have now started following and some who I will collaborate with in the future. Discovering shared interests and connections is exciting and gave new energy to my love for this profession!

https://twitter.com/LottieOcci/status/999329663804694529

https://twitter.com/SPOTeurope/status/1000016429213802496

Courtesy of Bill Wong


I have so much gratitude to RCOT for their competition and to my lecturers who convinced me to apply. I recommend you take any opportunity you can to attend the 2022 WFOT Congress in Paris!

SPOTeurope board members activities, news and projects.

Hi everyone! This blog aims to keep you up to date about SPOTeurope board activities. We know that our roles may be sometimes unclear, then here’s what we have done recently and a few words about our plans.

If you want to learn more about each member of the board check our About/The Board section.

Marlies, president, and Charlotte, vice president

They are currently strongly working with ENOTHE, the European Network of Occupational Therapy in Higher Education. They’re mainly preparing the 24th ENOTHE Annual Meeting, from 4th to 6th October 2018 at the Escola Superior de Saúde do Alcoitão (ESSA), Portugal, where we’re going to have a big presence.

Charlotte, SPOTeurope Vice-President

In addition, Marlies host the website. She’s also in touch with different OT students and universities from all over Europe, answering and redirecting emails to the others board members. She’s currently working on a map she’d like to post on the website; this map shows OT Schools and Universities across Europe and SPOT representatives. It’s an amazing tool so everyone can see where we have students who you can be in touch with. She hopes the map to be online before the summer holiday.

Charlotte is also the one who write reports after meetings. She has been increasing SPOT’s international community, espacially via the WFOT Congress in South Africa she participated in. Thus Charlotte had the opportunity to talk with OT students about their projects, various experiences, life as OT students in Europe, etc. It allows her to encourage them in writing a blog for us.

 

Jena, social media lead

Jena, our social media lead

She posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts of SPOTeurope. She established themes for some days of the week like the “OT memes Monday” or “Self-care Sunday” or the “Blog Wednesday”. She recently launched our Instagram page! We would like our social medias to be more active. Thus if anyone ever wants something promoted or sees something they’d like posted, feel free to message her on any of the social medias. About Instagram, you can send videos of “OT students’ moments”. Jena will be able to share it with the European OT students’ community!

Valia, outreach lead

Valia contacts and keep in touch with European OT universities who are members of ENOTHE. She informs them about our platform and explains them ways of getting involved. Indeed she conducted a brief explanatory email about SPOTeurope and an additional file with more detailed information. The next plan is to discuss with Marlies which universities have already been informed about SPOTeurope and what our next action will be.

Cassandra, mini SPOT coordinator

Her role is to help you creating and leading mini SPOT in your university. You wonder what a mini SPOT is ? Basically a mini SPOT is a student platform at a university. The platform stands for internationalization at the university. For example at her university in Amsterdam, they organize movie nights with an intercultural theme and they discuss it. Also they create theme days about internationalization. The platform is run by students and for students. Off course a coordinated teacher would be appreciated. Every student can set up a mini SPOT, yet it is important that they are linked to SPOTeurope, that’s why the name mini SPOT. Also the representative of the university should be linked with the SPOT. If you’re interested in creating a mini SPOT in your university, feel free to email Cassandra at minispot@spoteurope.eu.

Maurane, blogger

I look for guest bloggers with the help of SPOT representatives and board members, and manage requests of people who want to write a blog for us. Then I help them writing their blog entries when needed. I write some blogs, like this one. Moreover I manage the articles’ layout: create designs, images, etc. I recently added a comments section under the articles for them to foster discussions and interactions, please feel free to ask anything and react about the blog theme!

As I’ll graduate soon, we are looking for a new blogger for SPOTeurope from October. If you’re interested in joining the board, feel free to email me at blogger@spoteurope.eu to ask me anything about the role (even if you’re not confident in your English skills!).

Breaking news!


Marlies and Vanessa in Gent, Belgium (2018, March)

We are pleased to announce that Alex Lukavsky and Vanessa Röck, Austrian SPOT representatives are now SPOT representatives’ leads. They’ll be happy to offer tips and advice to any representatives.

The Newsletter ! Indeed we are going to share the first newsletter quite soon, you can subscribe entering you name and email address on the right sidebar.

 

 

 


You want to become a guest blogger/SPOT representative/blogger? Or create a mini SPOT in your university? Feel free to ask emailing the board at info@spoteurope.eu, we would be happy to answer you! 

Behind the Scenes of Brunel’s 3rd Occupational Therapy Student Conference

Published by Maurane, on behalf of authors Abigail Darko, Jenny Hong, & Fatema Virani from Brunel University London, United Kingdom

Overview…

Brunel’s Occupational Therapy Student Conference is an annual student-led event with opportunities for students in training to work together. The conference includes keynote lectures, seminars, and workshops discussing relevant topics and emerging areas that expand beyond academia teachings. This year’s conference took place on 27th of April, 2018. It included speakers who are occupational therapists, other allied health professionals, carers, parents, and service users. Delegates consisted of practitioners and students from Brunel University, students from other UK universities, Spain, The Netherlands and Belgium!

How we got started…

After forming a committee of truly passionate and committed students, an initial meeting was set up. The meeting was facilitated by a staff lecturer and allowed the committee to commence the team-bonding process. Key decisions were made, which included selecting the theme for the conference. It was only natural that the theme covered “The transformative power of occupation”. We wanted to learn new and exciting ways to use ‘occupation’ to transform the lives of communities and individuals.

The student co-chairs then facilitated meetings and discussion of ideas proposed by committee members for the conference. An action plan was drawn up with tasks to complete before the next meeting, with deadlines set before the next meeting.

Planning…

  1. Prepare to be flexible, communicate, compromise, and be patient.
  2. Ensure minutes and action plans for all meetings are recorded and sent out to the committee as soon as possible to get the ball rolling in completing tasks.
  3. Select keynote speakers, seminar and workshop leaders through university, placement, and conference networks (committee members can provide a range of presenters based on the varying experiences!). Contact and confirm the speakers’ attendance early in advance.
  4. Publicise conference on all available platforms internal and external to the University.
  5. Agree on a reasonable and realistic budget and stick to it!
  6. Once tickets go on sale, have a system in place to track the budget goals weekly.
  7. Make sure to share important milestones with the team (i.e. first 100 tickets sold, etc).
  8. When it comes to food – ‘it’s better to have too much than not enough’.

Top 10 tips for a successful day…

‘So after many hours of planning and hard work…how to make it count!’   

  1. Start early! The weeks really do fly by—draft a timeline/schedule for important jobs or roles.
  2. Set up deadlines and meet them!
  3. Communication is vital – set up a discussion forum or utilise social media to stay connected with your organising team.
  4. Teamwork – Use the strengths and talents in your team!
  5. Logistics – Make sure rooms are booked well in advance to ensure the date of your conference.
  6. Food – search for potential providers and estimated costs once the proposed budget is confirmed.
  7. Volunteers – search for members willing to support the conference and appreciate them as they are valuable contributors to the conference day.
  8. Ensure programme booklets, certificates, timetable, and registration list are in order the day before conference.
  9. Duration of conference – make sure the event follows the programme’s timetable to ensure it ends accordingly.
  10. Greet attendees and speakers and provide a welcoming and inspirational environment for members to comfortably engage and participate in the day’s activities.

Final Words…

‘Team work is dream work!’

It is imperative that as occupational therapists in the making, we advocate for student-led events. Your passion is infectious and will inspire others! Finally always remember, to have a coherent and successful conference you must ensure that it is fueled with:

  1. Teamwork: By communicating and working smart, the can be more efficient and creative with the project.
  2. Community: A sense of community within the committee should be established and developed so everyone is included, supported, and feels a part of the team.
  3. Leaders in OT: As the next generation of leaders will be in attendance of the conference, ensure they are well inspired by current OT role models!


Contacts :

French OT students charity concert

Written by Maurane, with Nolwenn and Sarah, on behalf of ATEEC.

A concert for the benefit of hospitalized children

On Friday May, 18th, the OT students association of Tours, France, organized a charity concert in a café concert named Les 3 Orfèvres. This concert took place as part of the action of Ampli Mutuelle, a health mutual, named Nez pour Sourire, for the organization Le Rire Médecin.

Le Rire Medecin is a French organization who trains clowns for them to bring joy and cheerfulness to hospitalized children. Thus, every year, the Nez Pour Sourire action is launched to raise fund for supporting clowns training. For this purpose, various students organizations all over France sell goodies like Red Noses and other stuffs. This concert were then organized as part of this action by ATEEC, supported by UNAEE.

What is ATEEC?

ATEEC is Tours OT students association. The board has 18 OT students, who enliven student life organizing events, managing partnerships, setting up tutoring before exams, implementing prevention actions, participating in sports events, and many other things. Thus, Nolwenn and Corentin (see the photo opposite!) managed the organization of the concert, Margot and Sarah handled the fundraising for the charity action, and all the board members help them out for everything to be fine.

 

The concert!

Singers were 4 OT students, and 1 friend of them, who is a Adapted Physical Activity student. They sang and played guitar and piano. They had a 1h30 concert with French and international covers.

This brand new experience was really appreciated by all the board members, singers, students and crowd. Moreover it allowed ATEEC to raise funds for them and for Nez Pour Sourire.

“It was great to bring students together in a charity action, and promote OT students talents at the same time”, Nolwenn told. “It was not as hard to organize as it seemed to be at the beginning, she added that it was just about being prepared and organised. OT students have talents, it’s great to share them and use them for a cause like that.”

And now, try for yourself !

If you have any question or reaction about this event, feel free to leave a comment bellow !

 

 

See you soon! Maurane.

Finnish Occupational Therapy Students’ pop-up in shopping centres

Published by Maurane, on behalf of authors First Year Occupational Therapy Students from Turku University of Applied Sciences, Finland.

In this study module we worked on assessment of motor skills. To be able to evaluate clients’ motor skills we had to understand the anatomy and physiology of the upper limb of a human being. Therefore we deepened our knowledge of upper limb muscles, and both motor and sensory nerve systems.

We used various measurement tools to assess clients´ occupational performance. Based on the Model of Human Occupation Theory, we tested different skills that include motor, process and both communication and interaction skills. We got to see what assessment in occupational therapy means in practice. We organized a pop-up in the shopping centres of Turku and assessed upper limb motor skills of passers-by. On the same occasion we got to spread the word about occupational therapy.

 

Assessment tools we studied and used in the pop-up

Purdue pegboard test

Occupational therapy students are testing each other with Purdue pegboard-test.

Purdue pegboard test measures manual dexterity and eye-hand coordination. There is a specific board with two parallel rows with 25 holes where cylindrical metal pegs are placed by the patient. The first part of the test starts with the dominant hand. The client has 30 seconds to place metal pegs to holes as fast as possible. Then we count pegs, and the client repeats the test with the other hand. Second part of the test measures working with two hands together, client has 30 seconds to put metal pegs to two rows.

For the third part of the test, client has to put together four metal parts : pegs, trays and collars in a specific order for one minute. The assessor counts all the assembled parts and the client gets one point for each part.

Minnesota rate of manipulation test

The client is testing Minnesota rate

Minnesota-rate measures the speed of gross arm and hand movements. It assesses the hand-eye coordination, and both unilateral and bilateral manual dexterity. The complete assessment includes five tests : placing, turning, displacing, one-hand turning and placing and two-hand turning and placing.
Client can practice each test before the start of the assessment . Then they repeat each test at least twice and performed while standing. This assesses both accuracy and speed. Score of each test is time, in seconds, required to complete the chosen number of test trials.

 

Nine-hole peg

This test measures finger dexterity. It starts by asking the client to take  pegs from a container, one by one, and place them into the holes on the board, as quickly as possible. Then client have to remove the pegs from the holes, one by one, and replace them back into the container.
Client have to use only one hand at the time. Assessor starts the stopwatch from the moment the participant touches the first peg until the moment the last peg hits the container. Both hands are tested, dominant hand first.

Jamar-test

Jamar-test measures a grip strength of hand. Client and assessor sit face to face. Client have to to sit up with their back straight and keep their arm in 90 degrees. The arm is not allowed to touch the body. The press is meant to be quick and strong. The client repeats the test twice for each hand 30 seconds between the presses. Results are then compared to Finnish average in their age group.

Moberg pick up

Moberg pick up test assesses functional sensibility. This test involves picking up, holding, manipulating and identifying everyday objects. The client gets 10 standard objects which are the same temperature example metal. The test starts by naming the 10 objects. After that the client picks up the objects and puts them in to the box, first with their dominant hand and then with the other hand. The same is done next blindfolded. After that the client has to identify the objects blindfolded and put them back in to the box. Assessor times the test with a stopwatch.

Box and blocks

The idea of the Box and blocks test is to measure the gross manual dexterity. In the test there is a two-parts box, there are 150 blocks on one side of the box and the other one is empty. Thus the client moves blocks with one hand to the other side of the box. Client start with their dominant hand and they have one-minute time to try to move blocks to the other side as fast as possible. The assessor then counts blocks, and client repeats the test with the other hand. They have 15 seconds to practice the test with each hand.

Pinch-test

Pinch-test measures pinch grip strength. The client uses three differents grips in this test; pincer grip, key pinch grip and three finger pinch grip. During the test the client sits on a chair and the assessor holds the pinch meter still so the client can do the test. The assessor tell her/him to sit up with their back straight and arm in 90 degrees. The arm is not allowed to touch the body. The client pinches the pinch meter as hard as possible. The assessor then compares results to Finnish average in client’s age group.

 

Nine-hole peg, Jamar, Moberg, Box and Blocks, and Pinch

Organizing a pop-up was a great opportunity for us to learn how to use these measurements. We recommend these kinds of events for all of you future occupational therapists!


Feel free to comment this blog and email me at blogger@spoteurope.eu if you have any question about this article. SPOTeurope board is approachable if you want to write an article on this blog, or become involved in this wide OT students network! – Maurane 

My international fieldwork placement in Trois-Rivières, Canada

Hi everyone, Maurane’s speaking ! Today I’m going to tell you about this amazing experience I’ve had last year : my international occupational therapy fieldwork placement in Trois-Rivières, QC, Canada.

When ?

I’ve been there from May, 5th to July, 18th, 2017, as a 2nd year OT student. For 8 weeks I’ve had an awesome placement, and then I spent 10 days road-tripping across Quebec.

Where ?

I was in Trois-Rivières, Canada, a French-speaking city. My placement took place in the local teaching hospital, especially in family medicine, pneumology, orthopaedic, urology, gastroenterology and vascular surgery departments, mainly with elderly people. Both of my supervisors were referent for several of the following departments, but they were attached to the rehabilitation department.

Why ?

I wanted to step out of my comfort zone experiencing something new, far from my country, my culture and my habits. I also wanted to get to know another way to provide occupational therapy services, especially in North America, OT birthplace.

What ?

I learned so many things ! On an individual level and of course professionally, this placement really impressed me. I feel this was the first time I really felt as an OT.

Personal development

Stepping out of my comfort zone and experiencing totally new stuffs alone was much rewarding. Indeed I had no choice but to cope with any situations in everyday life by my own. I’ve had issues with lodging in the first week I was there. I’ve had to move from my place, thus I had to look for another place to live. I managed this by my own, without my parents assisting me, and it went well ! Then I was pretty proud and I feel more confident now as I know that I’m able to manage this kind of situations by my own.

Moreover I met awesome people there. I took the time to get to know them and their culture, I discovered a way of life I didn’t know before, which got me think about my own philosophy and lifestyle. Even if they speak French and live in a western culture, I felt differences in people’s behaviors and values. In general terms I felt they were much optimistic about life ! I also met people coming from all over the world travelling during week ends. I became less afraid to start a conversation with people I don’t know, which is also an advantage in professional practice !

Professional development

I’ve had to adapt to a brand new health care system, professional environment, and culture in a short period of time. First, I gained confidence in my adaptative skills as I’ve had no troubles accommodating to this unfamiliar environment. Secondly I learnt working with great rigor. My supervisors were more demanding than I’ve had ever experience in France, especially about professional writings. I learnt to use accurate terms when forwarding information to other professionals, in both oral and written form. During this placement I also felt that OT practice was more evidence based than it is in France, as research is also way more fertile. Thus I understood the importance of developing research in OT in France as it’s essential to expand and enhance our practice.

======

Standing in front of the Cogeco Auditorium in Trois-Rivières.

I would never recommend you enough to travel and experience unfamiliar fieldwork placement settings !

Feel free to react and ask me any question you may have.

Email : blogger@spoteurope.eu // Twitter : @maurane_ctr

 

Working with refugees – Projects at the Health University of Applied Sciences Tyrol – Occupational Therapy Department

Published by Maurane, blogger, on behalf of Authors: Hartmann Victoria, Lukavsky Alexander, Röck Vanessa, Strasser Sophia

Picture yourself in our situation: you’re studying, on the weekends you’re hanging out with your friends and you see your bright future for yourself as an occupational therapist.

Suddenly, everything is changing – there is war. Your life is not like it used to be. In the blink of an eye, all your dreams are shattered. You’re surrounded by death and violence, and you have to leave your country. You’re not able to communicate in your mother tongue, you’ve lost parts of your occupational identity, you’re not allowed to work and, instead, you’re waiting for a positive response to your asylum request.

Life as a refugee can be difficult to imagine, but for almost 22,5 million people around the world, it is a terrifying reality (UNHCR, 2017). Refugees belong to a group in danger of occupational deprivation (Whiteford, 2000). Thus we, as occupational therapists, play a vital role in enabling them to participate successfully. Hence, the occupational therapy department from our university, the Health University of Applied Sciences Tyrol, undertook two projects alongside the Bachelor and Master students focusing on aiding in this transition.

Projects

In 2016, the project’s aim was about “building a space and a place for encounter” by furnishing and decorating an “encounter room” together with the refugees living in a refugees’ home in Innsbruck, Austria. Once we got to know each other, we worked in three different groups: sewing, woodworking and gardening. At the project’s conclusion, we celebrated our shared results with lots of traditional food and music. After the project, we reflected upon our experiences and presented them to our professors and fellow students. Furthermore, there was a scientific evaluation of the project, wherein the students, as well as the refugees and the project leaders, were invited to semi-structured (and focus group) interviews.

In 2017, the first focus was on creating a positive experience of encounter between students and the refugees. Our aim was then to identify the resources and competencies of each participating refugee to enable him or her to engaging in meaningful occupations and, in doing so, to contribute to the so- called “Tyrolean compass of competencies” – a project in the Austrian province Tyrol. Within the context of the project, we gathered information regarding the refugees’ interests, resources, and competencies, as well as their occupational roles and accomplishments and summarized them in a document. To finish off the project we also made a presentation in front of the students, the professors, the stakeholders and the participants. This opportunity was also used to hand over these documents to the participants in a formal context.

Benefits

We, the students, really appreciated the projects. By gaining our first OT working experiences in our first year of studies we strengthened our identities as future OTs. Furthermore, we were able to build a connection between practice and theory (occupational science, OT-models, community-based practice, professional reasoning), and we now have important experience with cultural sensitivity and exchange. We improved our teamwork and organization skills, learned to be flexible, to work with the available resources and to communicate without speaking the same language. Apart from the professional context, we had the opportunity to meet inspiring individuals and even make new friends. Some of us are still in contact with the participants, meeting regularly and arranging dinners together.

Not only were we, as students, able to benefit from the project, but also everyone else involved. We received positive feedback from the people whom we worked with, including social workers and volunteers from the refugee home. We enabled the participants to use their identified resources to find new perspectives and to open up new possibilities. They had the opportunity to take part in meaningful activities and subsequently get out of occupational deprivation, all whilst having the chance to improve their German-language skills and gaining insights into our culture, values, and especially the value of women in our society.

Sustainability

A very gratifying aspect is the sustainability of the project. Beside our newly-gained learning experiences, the project enabled many students to participate in their first fieldwork placements working with refugees. Additionally, there was a publication and dissemination of knowledge (Wetzelsberger, Pasqualoni & Costa, 2017), whilst serving as a good example of practice for the OT community.

Conclusion

In conclusion, we’d like to point out that projects like this not only support students to develop their professional skills, but also help refugees to overcome occupational deprivation. It is our view that there are still a lot more ideas and opportunities for occupational therapists to enable refugees. Although there are a lot of other essential professions in this field, we believe that it is very important to work as an OT in this area because we can add a unique skillset.

We hope we could give you an insight into this field of practice and would like to end with a quote from Helen Claire Smith (2005) in the BJOT, where she wrote that “there is no excuse for allowing our anxieties to halt us from offering the same services that we would do for any other client group“. So: “feel the fear and do it anyway” (Jeffers, 1997 qtd. in Smith, 2005).

Hartmann Victoria, Lukavsky Alexander, Röck Vanessa, Strasser Sophia
Health University of Applied Sciences Tyrol – Occupational Therapy Department

CONTACT

Student group: Vanessa Röck vanessa.roeck@edu.fhg-tirol.ac.at
Project conception & continuation: Dr. Ursula Costa ursula.costa@fhg-tirol.ac.at

References

Whiteford, G.E. (2000). Occupational Deprivation: Global Challenge in the New Millennium. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 63(5), 200 – 204.

UNHCR (2017). Global Trends: Forced Displacement in 2016. Retrieved from http://www.unhcr.org/5943e8a34

Smith, H. C. (2005). ‘Feal the fear and Do it Anyway’: Meeting the Occupational Needs of Refugees and People seeking Asylum. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 68(10), 474–476.

Wetzelsberger, B., Pasqualoni, P.P., & Costa, U. (2017). Creating a place and space for encounter: Collaborative action taking within a cooperation of people seeking asylum and project report for the Tyrolean OT association.

Innsbruck: fhg – Health University of Applied Sciences Tyrol.