Diary Of An Apprentice Private OT

October 1st, 2011

15 August 2011 – Diary of an “Intern” Private OT

When I was asked to ‘blog’ my experiences and introduce myself as the new intern OT at Inclusion.Me, I wasn’t sure what was expected of me. I did some research and having found that a blog is literally an online diary, or ‘weB LOG’. So here I am and here is my first blog.

Being offered the position as Intern at Inclusion.Me was a mixture of relief at staying in employment after the funding for my previous position was pulled, and excitement for such a varied and new experience, though a little frustrated with the term ‘intern’ having been in health care for over 10 years and a qualified OT for over three years. This has changed over the past two months from excitement, to nerves and questioning my ability to practice as a private practitioner. Is it something I would want to continue in the future? Would I want to begin independent practice and give Inclusion.Me some competition?! Thus far, I am in two minds. Having come from an NHS background, the financial benefits (of private practice, not being an Intern!) are attractive, as is the thought of leading my own company into the future I shape for it. On the other hand, the stability of a private company in the current climate when such powers as the NHS are having employment freezes, and the daily fight to maintain presence and market ourselves as a ‘business’ seems daunting and to be honest, tiresome.

I guess the next few months experiences will guide my feelings about private practice and I will reflect (As any good OT would!) and share, giving an insider view of Inclusion.Me and my time as an intern.

22 August 2011

Last week, I was lucky enough to support Matthew with an access audit for the shopping giant Selfridges in London.

This was an eye opening experience and of great interest to an OT whose access assessment experience is limited to a specific individual’s condition or ability.  The access audit was a vast and yet specific assessment, including things like signage and website access/manouverability, heights of products and the coulouring of the surfaces and floors.  All issues which need to be considered, but had never entered my mind as such. It was exciting to be shown a new way of thinking and I enjoyed the two days there (assessing things obviously, not shopping…well maybe a little shopping…)

With the forthcoming Paralympics and Olympic events, it would seem that many changes are being made in London, with access to transport also being an issue currently. On the five tube stations I passed, ONE had an accessible and working lift. When I spoke to a staff member about this, I was informed that there was an agreement with the bus service provider in the local area, to provide transport from one tube station to the required station, should acess be limited at the desired station. This would mean that for the journey I took from London Bridge to Oxford Street (Oxford Circus), I would have to travel up to eight stops on the tube, including a platform change (as was the case the day I enquired, as the last five stations were having maintenance performed on the lifts and the 6th was, just plainly, not working and hadn’t been for 10 weeks.) after this eight stop journey on a crowded and uncomfortable tube, one would have to then travel approx 300m to the correct bus stop to take a 20-40 minute journey BACK to the stop they intended to get!

I hope the planned improvements are implemented soon, with only 340 days until the Olympics and 373 days until the Paralympics!

06 Sept 2011

Thus far my experiences have been limited.

I have mainly spent my time at a call centre, working for the Blue Badge team. I have been conducting telephone assessments to ascertain whether an applicant needs a mobility assessment, or has a condition that would negate the need for assessment, either proving eligible or ineligible, dependant on the medical information provided. This is an interesting position, as it allows me time to search for further info about a particular condition or disability, which has greatly improved my knowledge in some conditions and refreshed knowledge in others.  It is, however, repetitive and standardised, with little room for negotiation and use of leniency.

I understand the use of and need for guidelines and criteria, but find it difficult to decline an applicant who is being treated with aggressive chemotherapy because the condition may not be ‘permanent’ and having the discussion with an applicant that unless they are terminally ill, or have further problems (as if cancer isn’t traumatic enough?) they simply are not eligible. Which is almost always met with replies of “sue down the road has one and she’s fine” or “Jim has one and he has the same thing as me…”

Audits are completed regularly to assess the level of approvals to ensure the assessing OTs and Physios are adhering to the strict criteria.

If we believe a mobility assessment is required then the applicant will be invited to an assessment held at a local assessment centre, where they will be observed mobilising for 100 metres if they can do so, and a decision will be made based on these observations and information gathered during the assessment.

The rest of my time has included article writing, research and Blue Badge Policy revision. All of which are great for CPD content, and quite satisfying, but I did joke with Matthew that I feel like a P.A. rather than an OT but then again, I guess that’s what Interns do, at least I’m not on tea duty…yet......