Posted by: ayrshirehealth | October 9, 2013

Keep Calm and reach for the finish line!! by @andreaboydahpmh

Personal Growth

Looking back over the last 2 years, it’s incredible to think about what I’ve been involved in, what has become possible and how I’ve personally grown as a person and a professional.

This particular journey started within our Elderly Mental Health Practice Development Meeting in July 2011. The idea of running an event was discussed to link with the ‘activity strands’ for Realising Potential. Having already been involved in ‘Activity Workshop’ training, I willingly volunteered to help. With that then follows the impending anxiety of not really knowing what I’d let myself in for!Realising Potential

Life was then thrust into fast forward, as in the space of 11 weeks Joanne Payne (OT) and I organised a conference, which was boldly named ‘Activity Masterclass’. I remember Joanne querying the name, and I made an executive decision to go for it! The weeks that followed were a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, and gave me an insight into the preparations required behind the scenes, just to organise our small conference. From choosing the venue, to organising the rooms, and arranging the programme for the day. We did it on a shoe string budget, in the hope that our minimum charge for the event would gather enough interest and allow payment for our overheads. After all that worry we were over subscribed for our Activity Masterclass filling all of our 70 places.

Activity Network Forum

On the day, the morning went like clockwork but directing delegates to workshops was a bit chaotic in the afternoon, but all part of a learning experience. However, the day created an opportunity to talk about ‘activity’ for older people, hear a variety of presentations and network with others. Delegates enjoyed this experience so much that the feedback from the day reflected how much they wanted to continue their conversations. The day was a great success, and from this the ‘Activity Network Forum’ began.

The Activity Network Forum has been established since the end of 2011 and is attended by care home staff across Ayrshire. The peer support, and enthusiasm in one room is tremendous, and we often have a good laugh too! It has become my mission to remind these amazing people how skilled and talented they are, in preparing and providing a range of stimulating activities for older people. So our group is absolutely about peer support, but also about skills sharing and provision of some training too. Chairing and leading discussion has been an area of confidence building for me, and I’ve actually really enjoyed this opportunity.

Actively engaged

In February 2012 the EMH OT service was awarded Scottish Government funding to develop a website for older people, with the focus on keeping older people involved in activities. Joanne and I took the lead, and we were like bookends again, as we put our creative heads together to think about how to begin another project. screen-captureWe looked at a variety of websites to gage what we thought looked inviting and easy to navigate. I had to get used to terms like ‘branding’ which was like learning a new language. We deliberated over a name that needed to be short and ‘snappy’. We asked our OT colleagues to help us with a name, the best to be rewarded with a box of maltesers!. However, a wee chat with my husband about our challenge, ended in a matter of seconds. He just said, “What about ‘activelyengaged’ with emphasis on ‘aged’…a play on words”. The name was a hit and so ‘activelyengAged’ was born. Mind you there has been no sign of any maltesers, not that they would have reached my husband anyway!!

With the help of many of our OT colleagues and communications department, our website began to take shape. It was helped along with a focus group, which led to the use of ‘making every moment count’ to form the structure of our website. It’s worth a look on A bit ironic that I’ve been part of developing a website, especially when my IT skills are not the best.

Once our website was finally live, Joanne and I very quickly had to embrace our next challenge. This was our second Activity Masterclass to officially launch our website in September 2012. It took place at the Race Course, Ayr, which was a huge venue and was attended by over 200 delegates. Weeks before this event I had been completing my training for my first half-marathon, and all I could really focus on was getting to the finish line. I successfully completed my half marathon the day before our event, so suffice to say I was a little achy in my high heels on the day!

A calming influence

Arriving at 8.15am I suddenly realised how big our Activity Masterclass actually was, and I remember feeling completely overwhelmed. MasterclassFor once in my life I was speechless, and hoped that I might find some words once standing on the platform before me, to help introduce speakers, and complete Joanne and I’s own presentation. Fortunately Kerry Gilligan (OT manager) was sitting next to me and she had a very calming influence. Mind you I still can’t quite believe that I stood up and spoke in front of so many people, it feels quite surreal looking back now. Would I do it again? Actually, I think I would!

Our second Activity Masterclass was a roaring success, and the positive buzz that filled the race course that day was immense.

I suppose in a lot of ways, the many challenges that Joanne and I have faced over the past 2 years, has been a bit like training for a race. We’ve had to learn many new skills, be creative in our thinking, and push ourselves to achieve goals that sometimes seemed out of our reach, just like the finish line for my half marathon.

Dementia Awards 2013

Most recently our website was nominated for the Dementia Awards held on 19/9/13, and we were finalists in the ‘Most Innovative Partnership’ category. We didn’t win this time, but what a fabulous afternoon celebrating success across Scotland at Hampden Stadium. I feel very proud of what we have achieved so far.

My personal journey doesn’t end here, and there will be times that the finish line will feel impossible to get to, but in this incredible journey so far, I have learned with the positive support around me, the importance of believing in myself and with sheer determination, I will get there in the end.

I’m going to finish with a quote, as I’m becoming a little infamous for how much I love them!

The thing always happens that you really believe in; and the belief in a thing makes it happen” (Frank Loyd Wright)

This week’s blogger was @AndreBoydaahpmh (Andrea Boyd) who is an Occupational Therapist working in Mental Health Services in NHS Ayrshire and Arran



  1. […] are not always a bad thing. Andrea Boyd has written the post for Ayrshire Health this week. In Keep calm and reach for the finish line!!, Andrea thinks back to a day when she said yes and what amazing things it led […]

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