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!

Update from SPOTeurope after the ENOTHE Annual Meeting

Dear students of the SPOTeurope community, 

On behalf on the SPOTeurope board I am pleased to give you some updates after the ENOTHE annual meeting. 

Last week, the 25th ENOTHE Annual Meeting was held in Athens, Greece. SPOTeurope was honored to be present to represent the european OT students. Next to networking at social events we were hosting a pre-conference workshop, a meet-up, a SPOT forum and gave a brief update about SPOT at the end in a pitch. Besides this we were also present at the student workshop about ‘Stigma’, hosted by the Greek student of AMC Metropolitian College. 

SPOT, being aware that sadly not all students are able to attend the ENOTHE Annual Meeting, organised a  pre-conference workshop at the AMC Metropolitan College. Making it possible for the host students to get an international experience together with us (SPOT) and other international OT students.
During this workshop, we brainstormed together about the importance of internationalization and helped out the students who wanted to set up a mini SPOT. After the workshop, we went into the city and had some drinks together with all the attending students. 

A moment during the Pre-conference workshop.
Copyright: ENOTHE


We are so pleased with how it turned out that we would like to implement this pre-conference as a standard before every ENOTHE Annual Meeting. For all the students attending the ENOTHE Annual Meeting, this is nice opportunity to meet each other. However, the information concerning this workshop have been sent quite late which caused that not all students have coordinated their flight with the workshop. For the furture, SPOT will be vigilent to communicate this event ahead of time.

This year ENOTHE’s theme was “sustainability“. In workshops, presentations, posters or keynotes, lecturers as well as students could collect ideas for possibilities to implement this topic within OT education. Keynote speakers inspired the audience by emphasising for example the importance of critical thinking, collaboration, asking questions, using technology as resource for international exchange and doing!

Overview of the keynotes: 

* Keynote 1: Theodosis Pelegrinis – Dr. Philosophy 
* Keynote 2: Nadine Blankvoort – Occupational therapy practice, research and education with displaced persons: Critically exploring co-produced practices.
*Keynote 3: Filip Dejonckheere – My inspiration for Education, Enhancing professional identity through interdisciplinary education
* Keynote 4: Liliya Todorova – Challenges to ensuring sustainability of OT education in the Balkan area – matching present situation with future trends
* Keynote 5: Elisabeth Fattinger – Driving internationalisation, innovation and sustainability in OT Higher Education: COPILOT partnerships
* Hanneke van Bruggen Lecture: Hans Jonsson – Four Cornerstones in our knowledge-building on occupation

Meet-up

On the first day, in the morning, we did a meet-up session on how to set up a mini SPOT. Together with students and teachers, we thought about how we can create and sustain the mini SPOTs in universities. We asked some of our mini SPOTs to share their experience of setting up a mini SPOT. We want to thank the students from SPOT Prague to explain what steps they had to go through to get their mini SPOT started. Within 6 months they’ve managed to create one! We are very proud of them! We also want to thank Renske Bakker-Schut from HAN university, in the Netherlands. She is also currently developing a mini SPOT and shared her experiences as well.
During the meet-up some teachers also attended. They were enthusiastic about our Mini SPOTs and wanted to know how THEY can be involved too. We, as students, need the support of teachers, so we were very happy to see them engaging. 

SPOT Forum

Our new logo
Copyright: SPOTeurope

This was the first moment we proudly announced our new logo! We decided to change our logo into a more catchy logo. We like to credit Renkse Bakker-Schut for this. She has been working hard on it in order to have it finished at the ENOTHE Annual Meeting and we are so happy about it. Thank you Renkse !

At the end of the first day we invited all the attending students to our Student Forum, in order to let their student voice be heard. We discussed three topics: Mini SPOT, the ENOTHE Student Board member (SBM) role and our online presence. In the table below, you can see the questions we asked them: 

Same as SPOT did the last years, we will try to give our best in order to implement the collected ideas in the next year. We will keep you up to date on the new developments. 

Mini SPOT
The outcomes concerning the mini SPOT were mainly about the role of the teachers and universities. Students felt like they need more support from their university if they want to set up a mini SPOT. In order to make that happen the guidelines concerning the role of the teacher, should be more clear same as the guidelines for the mini SPOT. Students also wish for more visibility on these guidelines. Furthermore, appreciation in form of assistance but also in form of credits or financial support would be helpful. Finally, students want to be more connected with the different mini SPOTs. We as SPOT will work on this so we can support you in a better way.

Online presence
The feedback we received was that every student and university should follow SPOTeurope on social media to enable excess to information such as how to guides and opportunities around jobs and volunteering posts. This could also be used as a great discussion platform.
However, students prefer some social media platforms over others or don’t have social media at all meaning that some may miss key information. We would have to consider sharing all posts across all social media enabling everyone to be included. 
Going forward, we want to use SPOT social media to increase our visability. We are so passionately about student networking, inspiring and connecting across europe. We would also like to use social media as a platform to gather student perspectives. 
Overall, social media will aim to connect, inform and inspire students to share their perspectives and experiences with each other.

Student board member 
Students believe that the ENOTHE student board member is a positive step and would like it to be maintained in the future. They do wish for more updates on the ENOTHE projects through the Student Board Member so that they can be part of the decisions making within ENOTHE as well. They would appreciate receiving the information via social media or newsletter and to collect information also from local student representatives. Therefore, teamwork with the social media lead as well as the outreach coordinator is essential.
Also, students want to see a better collaboration between students and teachers. More workshops and projects done by teachers and students together and a student keynote speaker would be the ultimate goal. 

Photo from the SPOT forum
Copyright: ENOTHE

The outcomes on the Student Forum were presented at the SPOT pitch on the final day. 

Second photo from the SPOT forum
Copyright: ENOTHE

Student workshop about “Stigma”:

At the end of the second day, three greek students from the hosting school gave a workshop on “Stigma”. Together with all the students and four teachers, we had a very interesting exchange about the influence of stigma in our daily life and it’s presence in our OT education.

General Assembly:

Our new ENOTHE Student Board Member Vanessa presenting herself during the General Assembly
Copyright: ENOTHE

At the same time as the workshop, our former and new ENOTHE student board member were attending the General Assembly to present the experience within the ENOTHE board in the last year and the appreciation of the enhancing collaboration between lecturers and students. Furthermore, this was an opportunity for the new SBM to introduce herself to the lecturers. 

Gala diner:

On the second day, we also had an amazing gala dinner on the rooftop of the hotel where we could enjoy a beautiful view of the Acropolis. This was a great moment to network and dance. We had a great time! 

Closing ceremony

At the end of this ENOTHE Annual Meeting, the president of ENOTHE, Marie-Antoinette stepped down from her role. So during the closing ceremony, there were multiple speeches to say goodbye to her.  On the behalf of european OT students, we would also like to thank her to have been comitted to collaborating with students by opening up her board to the first Student board member. Her position will be taken over by Soemitro Poerbodipoero

Soemitro presenting his goodbye speech for Marie-Antoinette
Copyright: ENOTHE


Within the SPOT board, we also had to say goodbye to two of our members: Alex Lukavsky and Marlies Nijenhuis. SPOT has thanked them by presenting a speech. We want to thank them for their investments and time they have spent in SPOT. Especially Marlies, last 4 years she worked so hard to bring SPOT to the place it is now and we are proud so proud of her. Alex and Marlies will retire from their student time for now but we wish them the best. You will be missed ! <3

The new and old SPOTeurope board
Copyright: ENOTHE

New board
Their departure has lead to opening up the board to new board members and to some of us taking over some new roles within the board. We are happy to present to you the new board:
Cassandra Christianen – President 
Natalie Pickering – Vice President 
Vanessa Röck – Student Board Member ENOTHE 
Emma Schlinquer – Outreach Coordinator 
Emma Rodriguez – Social media lead 

Marlies & Alex introducing the new board before the final pitch
Copyright: ENOTHE

Blogger position still available!

As you may have noticed, we don’t have a blogger yet, so we are still on the lookout! 
If you are interested in becoming our new blogger, please send your motivation letter and name of your university to info@spoteurope.eu before the 31st of October. 
Also, if you would like to meet our new board members, please visit this page on our website where they have written a little bio for you: https://www.spoteurope.eu/the-board/ 

We, as SPOTeurope, are looking forward to another year of internationalization and are looking forward to hearing your ideas to keep this network on growing! 

Thank you! 


Warm regards, 
Cassandra Christianen 
President of SPOTeurope

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!

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! 

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.