It is hard to believe that I have completed my first placement, it feels like the last seven weeks has gone with just a blink of my eyes.
My placement was at the Intensive Assessment Treatment Team, which involved working with people with learning disability and challenging behaviour. Truth to be told, I really did not have a clue of what was involved at the beginning, nor did I expect much from my first placement anyway. But I went in with an open mind and as I have mentioned in my previous blog posts, I like the excitement of learning in a new environment. Everyone on the team was so friendly and helpful in guiding me throughout. When I look back, I am so grateful to be part of a team that really put the clients at the centre of everything that they do.
One of the things that I appreciate the most is the input from my practice educator. She has been a great mentor for me, not only was I able to learn from her experience as a qualified occupational therapist, she also helped me to recognise what kind of occupational therapist I want to become. When asked to create a life story book and an activity passport for a client with learning disabilities and dementia, I took the opportunity with both hands. Very much to my surprise was my practice educator telling me that the service will be using what I have created a template for future clients. I was also given the opportunity to conduct my own home visit, which was very exciting indeed! For the first time in a while, I feel valued and it was a real confidence boost!
My practice educator even helps me to find the opportunity to shadow other occupational therapists that work in different healthcare settings such as Langdon, which is a forensic mental health service, offender personality disorder services and FIND - Forensic service for men with intellectual and neurodevelopmental disorders. I had a wonderful time and very much fascinated by the work that the occupational therapists do with their patients.
Although the number of clients that I was able to meet and work with is not a lot, on reflection, I was still able to make a difference to them and I am very proud of that. This reminds me a story by Loren Eisley that I have heard before.
'Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work. One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up. As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man and that what he was doing was not dancing at all.
The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean. He came closer still and called out "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?"
The young man paused, looked up, and replied "Throwing starfish into the ocean."
"I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" asked the somewhat wise man.
To this, the young man replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die."
Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, "But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"
At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, "It made a difference for this one.”'
The moral of the story and my first placement experience shared something in common, which is the number is irrelevant, it is all about the differences that you made and even just for one individual, that’s all that matters.