Posted by: ayrshirehealth | November 6, 2013

Make a splash by @kerryahpaa

OT week 3rd – 9th November 2013

Time to demonstrate how proud you are to be an Occupational Therapist……make a splash!

SplashWhen I started my training as a student OT in the early 1980’s, I struggled to really understand what the profession was all about; and what becoming an Occupational Therapist would eventually mean to me.  During those early months the only splash I could see was that of the water coming out of a bath as I observed yet another bathing assessment.

Determined to solve the puzzle of this profession, I spent the next few months studying anatomy, surgery and psychiatry; and on placements cleaning printing presses, weaving baskets and finishing off stuffed rabbits; whilst contemplating how I might avoid having to plan the department Christmas party.  I knew that there was more to the profession than the provision of wooden (yes, wooden) bath boards and raised toilet seats, but I couldn’t see it for myself. Just as I was about to give up and go and do something altogether more straightforward, the true potential of my chosen profession became clear to me on the last clinical placement of my first year.

Ayrshirehealth blogs

But before I share that with you, I’d like to remind you about the blogs you’ve read over the past month (and if you haven’t read them, then please have a look at @Ayrshirehealth).

Occupational therapy 2During October, we’ve heard from a number of Occupational Therapists: @aileenahpmh reminded us of the uniqueness of individuals, the value of meaningful occupation and that we’re part of a profession which enables people to build on their strengths in order that they can live life their way;Hospital to home @joannepayneOT shared the importance of seeing the person before their condition; and working with people to establish what their personal outcomes are;


@andreaboydahpmh blogged about the creation of the actively engaged website, with the aim of enabling older people to remain involved in meaningful activities;The quiet room @janeahpmh prompted us to remember the importance that being mindful can have in helping people identify priorities, (perhaps eating more ice cream and less beans!); and @roberta_simp highlighted the potential value and the positive energy associated with people working together.

Summer of ’82

And so back to that clinical placement, where I saw all of this in action and finally understood that actually… Occupational Therapy was the profession for me.

It was the summer of 1982 and I found myself in an Occupational Therapy department within an old Victorian Psychiatric hospital.  My supervisor introduced me to Mrs B, who was an inpatient on one of the acute admission wards following a suicide attempt after her only child had left home to go to university.  Step backIn the beginning Mrs B appeared low in mood and socially withdrawn, but over the 12 weeks of my placement I observed the extraordinary process used by Occupational Therapists on a daily basis. My supervisor worked in partnership with Mrs B, her family, friends and the rest of the ward team to enable her to identify her strengths, goals and priorities.  Using group and individual occupations which were important and relevant for Mrs B, we supported her to slowly start to recreate her life roles and to re-engage with her family and community.

When I left, Mrs B had plans to become a volunteer and to rejoin the church craft circle and I could see the bath boards; raised toilet seats; printing presses; and stuffed rabbits in their true context. They were just part of the process of enabling people to adapt to life changes and reach their goals and aspirations.

But does everyone understand that?

So here’s an idea….why don’t you retweet all the OT blogs you’ve read this month to help everyone really understand the power of our profession. I just did….

Seemingly ordinary things can appear impossible at times, but with extraordinary support anything is possible. It’s one of the reasons that I’m proud to be a member of the Occupational Therapy profession…

Occupational Therapy – helping you to live life your way.

This week’s blog rounding of a month of blogs by Occupational Therapist leading up to OT week, was by @kerryahpaa, Head of Occupational Therapy in NHS Ayrshire & Arran.

Blogges would be delighted of you wanted to leave a comment on their blog or anything you’ve read on the site.


  1. […] Make a splash by Kerry Gilligan on the Ayrshirehealth blog. […]

  2. […] the 1980s and a case that made her realise how occupational therapy could make a big difference in Make a splash on […]

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