Sharing knowledge at national OT conference


A group of occupational therapists from the Trust have been celebrating good practice at the College of Occupational Therapists (COT) 36th Annual Conferences and Exhibition inGlasgow.

Five occupational therapists from the Trust presented their work at the event and used the opportunity to network with other colleagues in their profession to share best practice. Included in the presenting team were Kath Mashinter and Annette Purves, who shared the work they have been doing as part of the Kirklees memory service on the development of the Visual Memory Assessment Tool (V-MAT). The tool is designed to obtain a more accurate assessment of people with a mild cognitive impairment to dementia who also have sensory impairments.

The V-MAT is a simple innovation that transforms the diagnostic experience by using visual aids as part of the assessment. Traditional assessments for these individuals is ineffective, time consuming and anxiety provoking. With increasing demand to assess people with suspected dementia in diagnostic memory clinic settings, it is evident that there is a group of people with communication difficulties such as hearing impairment or dysphasia that were not receiving accurate assessment. Time constraints of the traditional assessment process also meant it was an often pressurised and anxiety provoking situation for the person receiving the service.

With this new visual toolkit it allows better use of time for Health Care Professionals to complete a thorough assessment. By enabling the person to read questions and/or point to answers it gives them the chance to communicate their answers in a more appropriate way for their needs. Feedback from the pilot run has been extremely positive including improvements in wellbeing, mood and engagement and partnership working with carers. The new tool enables the team to have a consistent baseline when assessing people with these communications impairments and offers a much more standardised approach to the assessments. The team now hope to develop the work further and are looking to using new technology such as computer apps to provide wider access to the tool. The presentation at the COT conference received great feedback about the innovative nature of the work and the presenting pair were approached by numerous people wanting to find out more about the tool.

In addition to the presentation on the V-MAT one of the Trust’s OT professional leads, Mandy Graham, presented her masters research on the use of authentic occupations in forensic occupational therapy practice. The work, which formed Mandy’s dissertation, explored the barriers to engaging service users in meaningful activity in a secure setting. The presentation identified the unique problems presented by the challenging environment and the client needs. It also looked at getting the right balance between therapy and security to meet specific needs.

A poster presentation was also made by Occupational Therapist Bronwen Alty, who spoke about her experience of attending a Coroner’s Court. She offered an insight into the personal reflection that took place following the coronial process and how this led to the development of an action plan for improving the service. She offered advice to other OTs about how to ensure documentation will stand up to scrutiny and how best to prepare for attendance at court. The presentation was well received by the conference, many delegates commenting on the relevance and value of the information provided. 

A poster on the adult ADHD service and the role of occupational therapy within that service was presented by Mandy Graham and Lucy Thompson. It explored emerging areas of practice and also the specialist pathway which has developed within the team. This is still quite a unique approach to working with that specific client group and the Trust continues to be a specialist provider for this adult ADHD care.

Another occupational therapist from the Trust who attended the conference was Gareth Everton who won the prize at the Trust’s recent Valuing Occupation event for his poster about how effective the OTs are in an equipment and adaptations service. The judges praised his use of qualitative data to demonstrate the effectiveness of the intervention in increasing individuals’ independence levels. His prize was a three day ticket to theCollegeofOTsannual conference.

Speaking about the event Mandy Graham said, “The conference was a great opportunity to share best practice from with the Trust’s occupational therapy service. It was great to be able to represent the organisation and showcase the innovative approach for the organisation at the same time as learning about new projects that are taking place across the country. We gained an excellent response from other delegates and the key messages from the conference have been cascaded to other members. I’d like to thank everyone for their hard work attending the event and to the Trust for supporting us to attend such a worthwhile conference. It was very rewarding to see how innovative we are as an organisation when it comes to OT and how we continually work to a high level and meet all national standards.”


Sharing knowledge at national OT conference

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