When I first started my postgraduate study, I said I couldn’t wait to be in placement to experience how occupational therapy works in practice. Here I am, writing up a blog post to tell you about my first three weeks in placement.
My placement is with the Intensive Assessment Treatment Team in Totnes, working with adults with learning disabilities who are experiencing distress, challenging behaviour, and/or complex needs. At first, I was a bit worried as I have very little knowledge of this practice setting, nor did I know if this would be the area that I want to work in in the future. However, as always, I like the excitement of learning in a new environment.
The first week was introductory, getting to know everyone in the office and establishing what my role would be for the next seven weeks with my practice educator. I had the chance to meet other occupational therapists from teams across Devon, in different healthcare professions such as social work, and primary care nursing. This enables me to have a broader understanding of various health and social care practice settings, and I am fascinated by the differences we make to the people we work with.
Placement got even more interesting when I began doing a few home visits with my practice educator, and I was encouraged to see how our clients settle in their local community and engage with meaningful occupations, despite the challenges they have to overcome due to their learning disability. During these home visits, I was asked to conduct a performance activity analysis, one of which involved doing some baking with one of our clients. Now I can honestly say that if anyone says occupational therapists only teach people to make tea, they are wrong! ;-)
The things I mentioned above have definitely opened my eyes to a whole new world that I never knew. But the most educational things were actually the conversations that I had with my practice educator during our car journeys to the home visits. I was able to discuss everything that I had observed and learnt with my practice educator, and her input has been invaluable. If there is one thing that she has taught me so far, it would be ‘never make assumptions based on what you think you know, always treat each situation with an open mind’.
I am very much looking forward to completing my first placement with this team, especially as my practice educator has given me the opportunity to visit a client on my own in the next few weeks (I cannot even begin to explain how excited I am!). The opportunities are endless, and in many ways, I am so glad to begin my practice training with this team, because this team only sees potential in people through engagement in meaningful occupation.