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Promoting OT

Words, images, actions

Karin Tancock, COT’s Professional Advisor for Older People and Long -Term Conditions, talks about how we can highlight Occupational Therapy by offering a series of roadshows.

Occupational therapy is absolutely essential for delivering the integrated services that all four countries in the UK are aiming to achieve but policy makers and commissioners don’t necessarily know it. Over the last two years COT have been trying to get out a message to members to put their head above the parapet, adopt a language the public can understand and present an argument for occupational therapy.

At an American Occupational Therapy Association conference, Karen Jacobs spoke about promoting occupational therapy through using words, images and actions.  To illustrate the different aspects of promotion, she recounted how in 1922 the Fred Stone Circus came to the Mineola Fairground for the benefit of the Occupational Therapy Society of New York. A sign announcing the event was advertising. A celebrity riding an elephant into the fairground is promotion and the newspaper report of the elephant walking through the Mayor’s flowerbeds – publicity. The mayor quipping about the incident is public relations and people talking to each other about the incident are word of mouth.

Across the UK there has been a shift in policy and legislation towards prevention and early intervention with the overall objective of maintaining people in their own home, living as independently as possible. This is a reflection of our ageing population and the growing number of people living with one or more long term conditions. Services have to look at their current practice and consider how they are meeting the needs of the local population- carrying on delivering a service as it has always been delivered is no longer a viable option.

As part of our efforts to support members in this new climate the Professional Practice team ran a series of roadshows- Bringing a business mindset to your occupational therapy practice. The roadshows drew on business management expertise and covered how to recognise a need and propose and design a service/business plan. We used a Dragon’s Den exercise for participants to pitch their ideas. We heard some fantastic proposals ranging from keeping a bee colony to a one stop shop for assistive technology and prevention advice in the shopping precinct. However, what many occupational therapists struggled with was getting the ideas across clearly and succinctly.

So this year we are offering more roadshows – Occupational Therapy- Making a Difference – that focus on using words, images and actions to communicate occupational therapists’ USP (unique selling point).

To practice what we preach, the College has been collecting case studies, key messages and horizon scanning. We aim to keep key messages to a minimum – at the most 3 and attach our unique selling point to each.

For example in Reablement- we have a key message:

Occupational therapists are integral in leading and delivering Reablement services and our USP is occupational therapists are in a ‘unique position…to respond to individual needs through rehabilitation programmes which focus on improving people’s abilities and assisting in engaging in the wider community.’ (COT/ADSS 2003).

We are saying to commissioners and workforce planners that there should be an occupational therapist in every Reablement team and this summer our Chief Executive took this message to 10 Downing Street.

We are also using the media in a variety of ways stepping outside of our usual practice with articles for SAGA, Guardian online and the Nursing Times, You tube films and radio interviews (listen to Genevieve Smyth on “How Occupational Therapy Can Help at Work” and following up news stories. A recent item on Breakfast News led to the College contacting city councils outlining the expertise occupational therapists have in establishing age friendly communities. (Read about this in the October OT News.)

We want our members involved

We would love to hear what members are doing using actions, images and words and we are always keen to collect case studies.

Contact your regional group to find out when a roadshow is coming to you in 2014/2015.

Karin Tancock, Professional Advisor for Older People and Long Term Conditions.

For queries about this blog, please contact email: Karin.tancock@cot.co.uk



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