Introducing Me: Maurane!

Hi! I’m Maurane, the new SPOTeurope blogger!

Here’s a short blog post to introduce myself and tell you more about my role.

Introducing me

I’m a 3rd year student in Tours Occupational Therapy School. In France our curriculum is 3 years long so I expect  to graduate on July this year. I come from a little town 50 kilometres south of Paris, but I moved in Tours to study. It’s a really nice city; there are so many fun things to do and many beautiful castles around to see!

I really enjoy travelling in France and abroad! Recently I’ve spend a few days in Brussels, Belgium. Otherwise I’ve been to Amsterdam, Prague, Venice, London, Bournemouth, Seville, Granada, Cordoba, and I want to explore many more European cities! I speak French, English and Spanish a little.

Finally, I’m passionate about occupational therapy! Since I started studying OT I’ve never got bored learning, providing OT services and meeting so many different people.

My role in SPOTeurope: Blogger

As SPOTeurope blogger, I’ll post blog entries twice a month on Wednesdays. Through these blog posts, I want to share information, tips and tricks, projects, events, experiences, etc. with you. I’d like my articles to incite you to meet and connect with each other. Some of the blog entries are going to be written by me and some others by YOU, or other people related to occupational therapy.

As a European OT student, this blog is yours as well as mine! Indeed, you have the opportunity to write an article as guest blogger, about anything you want to share that may interest other European OT students! I’m here to support you, provide you advice and guidelines for you to write your blog post.

I’ll also manage the forum, where you’ll be able to discuss and chat about the blog post theme and anything you want about being an OT student in Europe.

Feel free to send me an email at if you have any requests for articles or if you may be interested in writing an article! Looking forward hearing your ideas

(Published by Charlotte on behalf of author Maurane)

HAN International Week 2018- Challenge your Borders. Health and Social Work in International Perspective.

What is International Week?

HAN University of Applied Sciences in Nijmegen (Netherlands) holds an annual International Week to promote the sharing of experiences and knowledge of internationalisation in the context of health and social care. There are over 125 workshops from students and professionals from around the world.

What did you do?

SPOTeurope and HAN international week share similar aims and values, so we were asked to come along and deliver workshops on the benefit of a European platform for Occupational Therapy (OT) students.

Myself, Marlies and Kina (one of our new MiniSPOT Coordinators), wanted the workshop to help students understand what SPOTeurope and ENOTHE are, as well as the benefits of internationalisation (check out our blog on the 2017 ENOTHE annual meeting). As always, we felt it was important for all students to feel that SPOTeurope is their platform as much as ours, so we were keen to hear their ideas for SPOT improvements.

As we are also setting up a ‘Mini SPOT’ at HAN, we brainstormed how people would like to be involved in this and the most effective ways to share information.

You can see our presentation here.

What were the outcomes?

At the beginning and end of the sessions we asked students what words spring to mind when they think of SPOTeurope. We were pretty pleased with what they came up with:

  Word cloud from start of session

    Word cloud at end of session








Here are 3 questions we asked and the ideas students came up with:

1) What are the unique characteristics of OT and OT education in the Netherlands?

  • OT education is very practical.
  • Opportunities for specialisation (in the form of a taking a minor)
  • Entrepreneurship- HAN OT course is the only healthcare profession to receive this national award!

2) What would you like to know about OT in other European countries?

  • How does the healthcare system work? (As we can learn from each other’s systems!)
  • What does OT education look like?
  • What do other countries view as the principal element of OT?

3) What do you feel are the benefits of Internationalisation?

  • Distribution of research.
  • Understanding of different cultures (resulting in improved therapist/client relationship).
  • Exchanging ideas, information, problems, interventions etc will make us better therapists.
  • It can improve OT education.

 What were the benefits for students?

Students identified that they weren’t necessarily sure which features of OT were unique to the Netherlands. This opened up more questions about other countries and highlighted why internationalisation is important. We were all surprised to find how different our education is; for example, in the UK we have short placements (or internships) in each year of study, whereas the Netherlands have a 6-month placement in their 3rd and 4th year!!

It was also really nice to see that Occupational Therapy in both the Netherlands and England have the same emphasis on reflection, person centred practice and occupation, and we hope that’s the same across Europe!

What were the benefits for SPOT:

Thanks to the input from students, we have a better idea on what SPOTeurope should offer and how to improve students access to internationalisation. Their input on our ‘MiniSPOT’ makes us confident going forward with this new project, which will focus on intercultural activities in our own schools and neighbourhoods, not just internationally. These are just some of the ideas SPOTeurope will be putting in place soon:

  • SPOTeurope Instagram.
  • Country specific information on the website.

Ideas for SPOTeurope’s future!

Ideas for SPOTeurope’s future!


Thanks for having us HAN!

Check out HAN’s Instagram and website. #HANIW2018


Volunteering as an Occupational Therapy Student: My first experience using my OT skills alone in the big, bad world!

Published by Charlotte (site admin) on behalf of Author Orla.

OT student, Orla, outside ‘the window to knowledge’ children’s centre in Tirana, Albania


Tell us about yourself.

Hello, my name is Orla, I am Irish, and studying occupational therapy at Teesside University in the North of England.

Where were you volunteering?

After hundreds of Google searches, I decided upon a centre for marginalised children run by the charity Caritas on the outskirts of Albania’s capital city, Tirana. I volunteered here for 2 weeks in September 2017. The community was made up of minority groups such as Roma and Egyptian families who had moved closer to the capital in search of better opportunities. I was not expecting the levels of poverty I saw. The children lived in slums by a river that flooded every winter and they had no running water or the basics that I expected. ‘I am in a European country after all,’ I thought wrongly. The main aims of the centre were to give 5-18 years olds in the area the chance to gain an education, learn life skills, eat nutritious meals, and partake in sports and fun activities. The 8 members of staff included social workers, a teacher, and a doctor.


What were your expectations before volunteering?

I was excited to observe and work along the long-term staff that have deep roots in the community and use my occupational therapy knowledge to support them when appropriate. I made sure to humble myself before beginning this project, being mindful that I was not going to ‘fix their problems’ in 2 weeks but instead encourage and assist long-term staff to continue to make a difference in the lives of these families.

What did you learn from the experience?
First thing I learnt was that I have a lot to learn. Obviously, applying your OT skills on placement when you have an educator to support you is much easier than being on your own. It gave me a taster of what my role-emerging placement could be like and now I know how much preparation will be required. Here are three occupational therapy skills I learnt about during my time in Albania:


The therapeutic relationship: music breaks through a language barrier

My biggest difficulty was the language barrier as I don’t speak Albanian. Two members of staff were able to translate but activities often got lost in translation and a new game may have formed before I even finished my explanation; the Albanian version of my activity! My personal favourite was conducting the Kawa river model with the teenage group, my poor translators!

Therefore, my method for establishing therapeutic relationships with the children and teenagers was through music; playing my ukulele and singing. Each morning, the younger children would sit in a line and one-by-one I would teach them chords on my ukulele and let them have a go. I would do the same with the teenagers in the afternoon and perform requested songs (Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber were popular). This quickly led to building relationships with the group without needing the Albanian language. It also encouraged patience and turn-taking as there was one ukulele and 70 of them! One morning was dedicated to an Ireland vs. Albania sing-song where I sang a song and then they sang one in response. It was a treat to hear their amazing voices sing complex melody lines that put our pop songs to shame. I will miss walking into the centre and hearing them shout ‘Orla, kitare (guitar)!’


Intervention Planning: leading activities with SMART objectives

In my past volunteering roles, activities had one purpose: to have fun. This time, I was looking through my new OT lens and began to shape these fun activities to have SMART objectives in line with the centre’s overall purpose. This meant facilitating activities that had specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely goals. In practice, this was an optimistic ask as Albania has a more relaxed culture when it comes to timely goals. But they found it useful that the games had the purpose of developing positive skills and qualities. I focused on their interpersonal skills including communication, turn-taking, and team-work. A highlight was teaching the children the self-care occupation of brushing their teeth as I discovered none of them owned a toothbrush and toothpaste. I organised a donation from Ireland to purchase one set for each child and for the centre’s doctor to give a presentation on the importance of dental hygiene.


Assessing the whole picture: projects with holistic approaches are essential to break the poverty cycle

I admired how the centre looked out for the children in every aspect of their lives. For example, they adapted how they taught self-care occupations to how the children would carry them out at home, like using a cup of water to brush their teeth instead of a tap. Also, they realised that there was no point teaching self-care tasks if the parents were not also promoting them at home. Parent meetings were therefore set up, resulting in some great solutions to community issues such as litter picking groups. I loved seeing people that would never come together naturally in the same room making decisions to better their community.

This approach was broadened to all areas of the children’s lives. The social workers made sure the children weren’t treated differently at mainstream school (One day at the school gates, the Roma children were told by their teacher there was no space for them but the social worker fought their case) and were consistently meeting with the local government to try to organise running water and rubbish collection to the area. I am hopeful that when projects like this take a holistic approach to their population, poverty cycles can be broken.


What are your plans to keep in touch with this project?

I hope to virtually stay involved in the centre and help them when they need activity ideas to suit a child’s development goal. They now call me their ‘online therapist.’


Thanks for reading! What has your experience volunteering as an OT student, at home and abroad, been like? Feel free to ask me a question about this project (or just say hi) on SPOTs forum or on Twitter (@orlatheot).


ENOTHE Annual Meeting 2017

In October, Marlies (SPOT President) and I were lucky enough to attend the ENOTHE 2017 Annual Meeting in Zagreb, Croatia. It was a great opportunity to meet students and professionals from across Europe and learn about the different projects people are involved in.

Our role was to hold a student forum to gather ideas about the future direction of SPOTeurope and the role of students in the ENOTHE, which we then presented at the end of the conference. We felt so motivated by the level of enthusiasm from students about SPOTeurope, and the support, ideas and honest feedback we received.







Those of you who were there, know it really shaped SPOTeuropes future direction. If you weren’t able to be there, take a look at our presentation to see the student forum feedback and SPOTeuropes dreams and goals.

SPOTeurope will continue to connect students across Europe but now also aims to ensure the active involvement of students in developing OT education!

Thank you to everyone who supported us and continues to support SPOTeurope!

Introducing UNAEE- The French Occupational Therapy Student Nation Association


UNAEE is the French occupational therapy student national association. It has been created in 2006 to answer an important representation need.

UNAEE main goals are to defend OT student rights and interests, to represent them within decisive structures and to assist them for the best quality of studies.

UNAEE is independent and not affiliated to any political movement nor religion.

UNAEE federates and gathers every local association from every institute in France and is the only representative association for French OT student on national scale.

UNAEE is composed by 24 local associations. As a matter of fact every 2 542 OT student in France is member of UNAEE, benefits from its work and can contribute to its actions in various ways.

Each year, projects and events are led by a new national crew while politic is discussed with every local association through their administrator.

UNAEE initiates projects in the fields of representation, quality of life improvements, knowledge, studies, culture, citizenship, prevention, solidarity, international mobility and much more!

UNAEE  works  with  a  lot  of  other  associations  in  order  to  promote  OT,  accessibility  and destigmatize disabilities.

We’re willing to get to know more European OT students and share with them about our mutual wonderful profession. You can get news from us on Facebook or on our website.

Feel free to contact us on SPOT’s forum or at too!

Comradely,Posted by Charlotte Walker on behalf of author Guilhem Montalbano.


“Sense-Aware.” Student Occupational Therapists Start Community Project!

Hello, we are two second year Occupational Therapy students at Plymouth University in the South-West of England. After attending the Royal College of Occupational Therapy conference in June, we were inspired to bring our learning to our local community in a creative way. This led to the development of our project ‘Sense-Aware’!

We both have experience with supporting people with Autism and associated mental health conditions. Currently, we enable young people to attend ‘Rooted’ – a group run by Routeways who are a local Plymouth charity supporting children, young people and their families to overcome disadvantage. ‘Rooted’ facilitates young people’s engagement in outdoor activities, gardening, baking and crafts whilst teaching them social skills and offering them emotional support.

Through attending the group with service users, we recognised that the premises did not have somewhere for young people to spend time when they felt overwhelmed or needed space. In line with Routeways current focus to make the group accessible for young people with Autism, we drew inspiration from a session at the conference on sensory-circuits; and decided to create the project ‘Sense-Aware’ to build this space.

The aim of the ‘Sense-Aware’ project was to research and fundraise for a range of sensory equipment, to educate others about the importance of supporting and managing an individual’s sensory needs within this population. The final aim was to set up a sensory room within the already existing ‘Rooted’ group to benefit those with Autism and facilitate their engagement in a range of activities.

After extensively researching, attending study days and meeting with professionals with first-hand experience in the field, we were able to ascertain a sense of direction for the project. This led us to the fun part – fundraising! We created a gofundme page, got up super early for car boot sales, baked lots of cakes to sell at group and trekked across Dartmoor, which all totalled over £500!! With this, we have managed to purchase lots of equipment and toys, but has also allowed us to create the possibility of staff, carer and parent training within sensory based intervention.  We have also recruited a regular volunteer, Alannah, who will provide 1:1 support for service users who would benefit from having that support in a group setting. Currently in the pipeline is the possibility of collaborating with a Paediatric Occupational Therapist to provide cost-effective assessments for sensory requirements, and provide clinical supervision for our team.

From our experience, we would like to encourage other students to act on their interests and not be discouraged by their level of study. This project has given us insight into our future career and provided endless opportunities. We are massively grateful for everyone who has supported us through this adventure. We would like to pass special thanks to Sam Turner, our lecturer and mentor throughout this process.

Written by Jade & Rachel from Sense-Aware. Posted on their behalf by Charlotte (site admin)


You can follow the Sense-Aware team on Twitter: @senseaware_SW

Hop over to our forum or social media pages to chat or ask questions about the Sense-Aware project, or to tell us about your own project. 

Facebook/Twitter: @SPOTeurope

Top Tips for Surviving as a New Student!

As we approach a new year of study, we at SPOT have been reflecting on how we feel now versus how we felt on our first ever days as Occupational Therapy students. Personally, I still feel nervous, excited and unsure of what to expect but now I have a network of peers to share those feelings with and previous students to receive tips from! With that in mind, we’d like to share some tips for brand new students about to embark on their first year studying Occupational Therapy!

(Erma Bombeck, 2017)


  • Occupational Balance. You’ll learn about this in lectures but possibly have none in real life! It’s so easy to get bogged down with studying and forget to make time for your leisure activities! Get involved in student activities, go for long walks with the dog, or just trot off down the pub! Whatever it is that you enjoy doing, and helps clear your head, make time for it. It’s so important.. and will also help you feel fresh for studying!


  • Be Organised! If you have a smart phone, get your email set up on it so you don’t miss key information! If you know you’re a procrastinator, schedule in study time.


  • Know Your Learning Style. Find out your learning style using tools such as the online VARK Questionnaire (VARK Learning Limited, 2017) or Honey and Mumford (1986) online learner questionnaire (ELN, 2015) to understand how you learn best. I found this useful in determining the most effective way of note taking in class. It also helped me understand those who do things differently to me. (Links to online questionnaires can be found in the reference list)


  • Seek Help! Most universities offer extra financial help and creche’s, as well as academic help like writing skills and maths, which anyone can access. If you’re having difficulty, seek help early rather than struggle alone, you’ll be amazed what’s on offer!


  • Get Feedback. Whether you do worse or better than you anticipated in an assignment, get feedback from your marker. They will always say something surprising that will help you in future assignments.


  • There Will Be Ups and Downs. It’s OK to have doubts and not to love every lecture on every topic. Don’t give yourself a hard time for this, but do share these feelings with your support network to get some perspective.


  • Wider Reading. When I was last studying, most information was spoon fed to me by teachers. University is different. It can be tempting not to do the wider reading your lecturers recommend but reading research, getting involved in twitter conversations etc is how you develop a greater depth to your knowledge.


  • Use Social Media. Twitter, Facebook, blogs etc all help you develop your voice as an OT, meet inspiring people and discover areas that excite you.


  • Don’t Be Intimidated. Whether you’re a mature student or fresh out of school, you’re all in this together and all have something to offer. Talk to people of different ages and backgrounds as well as those you share similarities with. There’s a lot to learn from everyone!


  • Take Opportunities. I missed a lot of opportunities in my first-year due to thinking “I’m too old” or “I’m just a student, I don’t know enough.” OT’s are wonderful people and most are excited to hear student voices and support student led initiatives. If you have an idea, share it!


  • Be Proud of Yourself! You’ve got into university, you’re doing something new, you’re following your dream. Take a moment to tell yourself well done!

  (TheLatestKate, 2015)


If you have any tips, share them with us via:

Twitter: @SPOTeurope

Facebook: @SPOTeurope

 Or on our forum:

Don’t forget to use #OTStudentTips



Erma Bombeck (2017) You Can Do It. Available at: (Accessed 5 September 2017)

Honey, P. & Mumford, A. (1986) The Manual of Learning Styles. Maidenhead, Peter Honey.

The E-Learning Network (ELN) (2015) ‘Honey & Mumford Learner Types (1986) Quiz’, Available at: (Accessed 5 September 2017).

TheLatestKate (2015) Available at: (Accessed 5 September 2017).

VARK Learning Limited (2017) ‘The VARK Questionnaire. How Do I Learn Best?’ Available at: 5 September 2017).





Do you like to work in an international context? Do you want to enrich your CV? Broaden your (international) network?

SPOTeurope is a community with members from all over Europe in which we exchange knowledge and practices about the OTworld. It’s a community by students for students.
At the moment SPOTeurope is LOOKING FOR NEW BOARDMEMBERS and maybe that’s you! Experience and affinity with ENOTHE is a pre.

What’s in it for you?
You will co-work with other enthusiastic OT students from all over Europe, which will expand your network. You will also acquire new knowledge about happenings within the OTworld. And it really enriches your CV!  It will approximately take up four hours of your time.

Are you interested?
Please send a motivation letter and a description of yourself (max 1 A4) to:

For more information, go to our website or our FB/Twitter @SPOTeurope.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us by sending an email to: .

We have the following openings:

As blogger you are responsible for writing an refreshing blog once every month about hot topics in the OTworld. This can be an expert interview, a masterclass or something entirely different but interesting.  Next to the monthly blog, the blogger maintains the continuity of the OT-links subpage of the SPOT website.

For this position it is important to try to stay up-to-date about the actions and activities undertaken by occupational therapists and to be able to transform these notions into well written blogs.

As the editor of the social media you are responsible to keep the Facebook and Twitter up to date with all the news, blogs and happenings around SPOTeurope.  Additionally you will share interesting posts and tweets from other occupational therapy related activities.

For this position it is important to have knowledge about Facebook and Twitter. You also have to be able to communicate in a good way and know how to write short interesting and stimulating posts.

As the administrator you are responsible for maintaining and refreshing the SPOTeurope website in general and keeping the forum up to date.  This means for example to keep discussions going at the forum and help new members get around. You will also make sure the website looks it’s best.

For this position knowledge about WordPress and MyBB is a pre but not required.





We are two occupational therapy students who are curious about prewriting skills of children in other countries and how other OT-students become acquainted with these during their education.
In this blog we write about a Dutch assessment which we were introduced to when we had to screen the prewriting skills of children. We will also share our experiences of this assessment with you. Finally we have some statements we would like to discuss about.

We like to write a blog about a Dutch assessment the KOEK. The KOEK is an assessment developed by Hartingsveldt van MJ, Cup EHC, Corstens-Mignot MAAMG (2006). The name KOEK stays for ‘The Short Observation Occupation Toddles’ and is developed for children in pre-school. The English version of the Koek is the SPOT (Screening Prewriting Skills Occupational Therapy) The spot has been developed for: 5 and 6 year old children with mild fine motor problems or 5 and 6 year old children showing even milder problems or children that could not be diagnosed with DCD.

The SPOT aims in offering a guideline for observing fine motor skills in preschoolers. The SPOT is a tool for observation with the emphasis on quality of the performance. It has been developed to be used by occupational therapists to assess whether a preschooler has reached an acceptable level of writing readiness. The SPOT can be used to evaluate fine motor problems in preschoolers as well ( Hartingsveldt, 2006). For the SPOT is no special training needed but a profound study of the manual is necessary. The assessment can be done in 30 minutes.
Components SPOT:

Continue reading

COPMI (Children Of Parents with a Mental Illness)

Following a question on the forum, a discussion has arisen regarding the Children Of Parents with a Mental Illness (COPMI) Australian initiative.

For those of you who are unaware of this, please find below a link to the COPMI website and some journal article titles regarding COPMI to get you started. 

-A “Snapshot” of Australian Programs to Support Children and Adolescents Whose Parents Have a Mental Illness Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal 2009, Volume 33, No. 2, 125–132

Evaluation of a resilience-based intervention for children of parents with mental illness 2008 The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists

We would be keen to hear your experiences of how your country works with clients in this situation? 
– Do you involve children of parents with mental illness in your therapy/ intervention? 
– If so, how do you do this? Do you use specific assessment techniques or interventions?

Or is this an area you feel should be explored more by Occupational Therapists and other healthcare workers in your country

We look forward to hearing your responses!