It's amazing how much difference a year makes. During first year I always dreaded the change of placement. I was excited to learn and enthusiastic to get going, but I had this dread that I'd be overwhelmed by the experience and I didn't have the skills I needed.
Don't get me wrong I know this is completely natural and I did have some of this feeling as I started PP3 as it was my first mental health placement, but for once I was looking forward to embracing the challenge. Im thankful to have been in a really supportive team that were able to support me to embrace the challenges and new experiences within the setting.
This placement was our first at level 6 so again it did feel like a bit of a leap from our last placement, with little uni contact in-between (This is one of the hardest aspects of the MSc, that the way our course works with uni/placement blocks we don't have much time in university between our placements as you would have on the undergraduate course).
With the support of my educator within my first supervision, I refined my learning objectives for the placement to include aspects of group work, assessment and 1 to 1 interventions, which included:
- Planning and leading a group
- Managing a caseload
- Undertaking assessment and interventions
By splitting the objectives into the three sections it enabled me to see the key aspects that I can talk about in interviews, which is a positive at this point in my course. I was surprised how easily the skills I had learnt during my physical placements were adaptable to a mental health setting, which gave me ample opportunity to grade and adapt activities for the clients I was working with.
I was lucky to experience placement in setting that utilised an occupational therapy model to guide their practice as well, as I was beginning to think I never would. The trust in which my placement was set, were utilising MOHO and therapy staff throughout the trust had been given ongoing training as this was integrated into their assessments. For me as a student this was ideal as it meant my educator and the other OTs within the team were really knowledgeable and chilling to answer my endless questions. More importantly though I could see how the use of the MOHO assessment tools enabled them to communicate the value of OT within the MDT .
The Role of OT within Inpatient Mental Health Rehab
Within the rehab unit for individuals with complex mental health conditions, the OT role was valued and heavily integrated into the team decision making and the clients care plans. It was great to see on the most part the the team understood occupational therapy's unique and important role in the rehabilitation of the individuals on the unit.
I spent a time reflecting on activity provision and whether that is the OTs role. Historically within mental health settings, OTs have utilised activities within their treatment and I could see how practically this was still done. I was also glad to see that the health care assistants, valued activities as an important part of the daily routine, meaning the OTs could intern focus on using activities therapeutically as appose to doing activity for activity's sake.; because that isn't our role, we aren't red coats their to entertain. When we are using activities, we are using them for the therapeutic value and assessment ; utilising our skilling in grading and adapting to increase and individuals independence .
The OTs within the team, were exactly that, counted within the team , which at times meant the OTs needed to be assertive about their role so that they could have the necessary time to undertake and write up assessments and plan for patients progress. But being counted in the numbers and being on the floor throughout the day, did have a lot of advantages for example the shift patterns allowed the OTs to be around during the morning personal care and the evening routines to build the rapport with clients and understand how they undertook their routines.
Personal Reflections Continued...
Im sure you can tell from my blog posts, that I had a really positive experience on this placement and passed it. I had the chance to plan group sessions, utilise MOHO assessment tools, work with a great bunch of clients and staff and start to get to grips with the role of occupational therapy with mental health settings.
I had lots of opportunities to step outside my comfort zone, by leading groups and speaking within MDT meetings. I also had a chance to reflect on the flexible nature required to work within a mental health setting, and how no matter how much planning you do for group intervention or even a 1 to 1 meeting... on the day the service users may just decide they don't want to do it, and you just have to make the best of it.
I received some really positive feedback from my educator about working at band 5 level in a lot of the aspects of my placement and I received positive feedback from the management of the unit which has helped my confidence in my ability to do the role and I'm looking forward to undertaking my last placement at the end of May. I hope to build on the positive experiences I have had on this placement and continue to develop my skills and particularly my ability to discuss occupational therapy interventions within the MDT.
Again I'm reminded of the Benjamin Spock quote, as I move onto the next hurdles of university...
Now it's time to buckle down and get on with analysing my research data for my dissertation module and embrace the start of the last two modules of the course as the start over there course of January.
For more insight into my journey to become an occupational therapist; follow me on twitter: @OTontheTracks