Celebrating Student Success: A Memorable Graduation Day at York Minster

Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Celebrating Student Success: Graduation 2018

Class of 2018. Well done. You did it!

A time to celebrate …………..

On Wednesday 21st November @YSJOT students will be graduating in the historical building of York Minster. It is a fabulous celebration of individual’s motivation, achievements, resilience, and ambitions to become an Occupational Therapist; a proud moment for themselves, their family, friends, and tutors who have supported them along their journey.  


To all of our graduates, The Occupational Therapy staff will be seated on stage in the Minster and will be applauding you as you walk across the stage to collect your degree certificates. We also look forward to catching up with you after the ceremony and hearing what you have been up to since the summer. Karen has arranged for the professional photographer to take a group photo of you all in your gowns. Please meet at the front of the Minster at 12 noon. You deserve to have an amazing day: you have been a fabulous cohort to work with. Maria Parks, who you voted as your favorite lecturer, will also be attending the ceremony.  Please share your photos with us on Twitter @YSJOT  #YSJOT18  and the university using #WeAreYSJ or on our Facebook page. 

To all our current students, the ceremony will be filmed and streamed to the York St John University Facebook Events page and York St John University YouTube channel. You will find it an inspirational watch! 


This post was created by Karen Wilson and Kerry Edwards 

Posted in Events and Conferences, Student Perspectives | Leave a comment

Celebrating Occupational Therapy Week #OTWeek2018 #YSJOT

Occupational Therapy Week is an excellent opportunity for us as a community to share our experiences of Occupational Therapy and pledge our support for the profession. So here at YSJ, recognising that OTs love a challenge, we are launching an OT meme competition on Twitter – with prizes! We are defining a meme as an image, which can be humorous in nature, that promotes the profession of Occupational Therapy and/or the Occupational Therapy programme here at YSJ.

So how can you be involved?

  1. The most popular tweet will be awarded to the tweet that features on #YSJOT Top Tweetlist at the end of the week (ie 12th November at 8am). So if you like someone else’s tweet or meme please like or retweet it.
  2. The four most original, and also the most relevant, memes will be selected by a judging panel on the afternoon of Thursday 8th November. The judges are a member of academic staff, the Chair of the Occupational Therapy Society and an independent adjudicator from the university’s technology enhanced learning team. The four memes will be shared on Twitter, and you the Occupational Therapy community, can vote for your favourite. The vote will remain open until Monday 12th November at 8am

The competition will be officially launched on Monday 5th November. All entries must use the competition hashtag  #YSJOT . We will also be encouraging you to use the official RCOT hashtag #OTWeek2018

 All prizes will be awarded at the OTSociety event on Wednesday 13th December.

So come on ….. get your thinking and creativity hats on . You have a whole week to prepare ….. and good luck! 

If you are new to Twitter follow this link to our blog page which provides a student-friendly you tube  video tutorial on how to set up your twitter account https://blog.yorksj.ac.uk/occupationaltherapy/new-to-social-media

or written instructions can be found here: https://tel.yorksj.ac.uk/day-1-ysj10dot-creating-personalising-twitter-account/

How else can you be involved? We recognise that there are other social media platforms available including Facebook and Instagram.  We challenge everyone – staff and students- to make one social media post this week to promote the profession. This may include talking to a friend about Occupational therapy or sharing an occupation that you find meaningful and purposeful.

Remember to keep all posts professional and be proud to be part of the Occupational Therapy profession.


Posted in End of Year Evaluations | Leave a comment

Going on an international placement: Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP) in Bangladesh.

In our latest blog, Sarah Braithwaite (one of our current final year students) shares her experience of engaging in an international placement for her level 2 placement…………

As a student, the opportunity for an international placement was one to be grabbed at with both hands.  The experience of a 10-week placement at the Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP) in Bangladesh http://www.crp-bangladesh.org/ is difficult to put down into a short blog, or even a long one, but I will try.   It is important to state the long-standing networking between the university and CRP is highly regarded and made for a supportive and effective placement.  I chose to split my 10 weeks between spinal cord injury (SCI) and hand therapy, to experience the most from the placement which was fully supported by CRP.  I was also fortunate to spend a day with the community team, visiting those discharged from hospital and living independently after sustaining an injury.    

I have worked in the UK health service for many years and felt compelled to experience a service in a developing country.  This was not without its challenges! This experience really made me step back and think about how I could be creative and adaptable in my working approach without materials and resources readily available.  It was inspiring to see how resourceful a nation can be with very little and the impact of occupational therapy on the locals and communities.  As a developing practitioner, I wanted to focus on the core skills of occupational therapy including communication and as I am unable to speak the language it was important to establish such skills to communicate to provide effective interventions and develop therapeutic relationships.  It was also an opportunity to explore occupational therapy in a new context, which for the future, hopefully, may open new avenues or areas of practice.      

Living and working on site at the centre really creates a welcoming and secure community.  There are opportunities to get involved with cultural days held for and by the centre and really engage with those affected by injury.  The team at CRP provide support and literally open their homes to students and volunteers, offering an authentic cultural experience.  The days are long, and the sound of beeping horns may keep you awake at night, but the rewards and gains from the people you meet, and the experience had, those things are soon forgotten.

Students are expected to self-fund their international placements and the Royal College of Occupational Therapists is one avenue to explore for funding.  As part of continuing professional development, I applied to the RCOT for some funding and was successful.  I received the Barbara Tyldesley Student Award 2018 in the amount of £500 sponsored by the Constance Owens Trust which contributed towards my placement. 

Applications are now open for the 2019 funding round, with details found https://www.rcot.co.uk/news-and-events/awards-and-funding/rcot-awards

Here is my report https://www.rcot.co.uk/sites/default/files/S%20Braithwaite%202018.pdf.     

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Advance HE Teaching & Learning Conference (2nd July 2018) Teaching in the spotlight: Learning from global communities

In this blog Kerry Sorby shares her reflections of attending sessions aimed at teaching professionals in the Health and Social Care sector.

Keynote Speaker:  Professor Christine Jarvis Pro Vice-Chancellor (Teaching and Learning) from the University of Huddersfield shared a really interesting and thought provoking talk focusing on “Growing Global Graduates: Teaching for a Better World”.  She discussed the concepts of global citizenship, social justice and employability: these  are embedded into our Occupational Therapy curriculum here at York St John University. This also fits well with the concept of enabling students to become  digital citizens – reflecting my own area of research interest.

Ignite sessions:   These were a series of 7 presentations where speakers had 5 minutes to talk on their subject accompanied by 20 slides for 15 seconds each. This was a really good way to hear a succinct summary of a topic of interest. For example: The first session was by Dr Victoria Hewitt from Newcastle University (who I incidentally sat next to on the train journey to and from the conference!) She shared how palliative care can be considered through different lens: disease, age, social, cultural, spiritual and political.This fits well with our level one and two  modules which explore health, well-being and participation from different perspectives.

Amanda Miller, Carol Haines and Louise Henstock (a former YSJ  physio lecturer) from Salford University shared their experience of “Hi-Fidelity Interprofessional Simulation: Impact and practice” . This was an overview of a day for 90 final undergraduate students across 6 disciplines, including occupational therapy, that impacted positively on learning and confidence for the students involved.

Interactive breakout session: led by Dr Christine Slade and Professor Christine Brown  (University of Australia) and encouraged participants to explore how the JISC Digital Capabilities framework (2017) could be embedded into the curriculum. We already have some great examples of embedding digital health capabilities into our programme e.g. using Pinterest  to allow students to explore and present their meaningful occupations, enabling students to design and create new digital artefacts as part of their induction  to demonstrate knowledge about professionalism and being a healthcare professional student. I have come away from this session with even more ideas that we could use to develop students confidence and competence in this area. 

Parallel Session: Maria Birch (University of Brighton) demonstrated the use of “patchwork text” to enable students to understand the volume and complexity of information when  studying anatomy. She illustrated that by using a series of smaller learning tasks and reflective narratives, students can “stitch” together their learning “patches”,  receive peer and staff feedback to rework their artefacts and inform a summative collection of work. This aligns really well with our current pedagogy of using supported open learning tasks to prepare students for participation in workshops and seminars and the use of a portfolio as a summative assessment for our new programme.  We could continue to  use Diane Cotterill’s successful concept of a digital workbook to allow students to create their own range of resources (e.g. drawing, creating posters/videos)  to support their learning and confidence with anatomy.

Oral presentation: Maria and I shared how we have developed a community of learners through our social media platforms. We continue to develop a range of learning opportunities that enable our students to practice digital citizenship in preparation for posting on social media in a professional and socially responsible manner. It has enabled a passionate discourse that has connected staff and students with a wider audience within our professional field of practice.

My final session of the day was led  by Professor Christine Brown Wilson (Queen’s University, Belfast). She was passionate and enthusiastic as she shared her model of curriculum development which engaged multiple stakeholders  – this was an inspirational session as the programme team have  just been through the process of an internal and external validation. I hope that our stakeholders will embrace the opportunity to join in with our dialogue days in the forthcoming academic year. 

My final thoughts ……. 

I came away from this conference inspired by the dialogue that I had listened to and engaged with. My learning also provided affirmation that the new curriculum that we are developing for our Occupational Therapy programmes is innovative and will enable our graduates to be equipped to become employable global citizens.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

WFOT (World Federation of Occupational Therapists) International Congress 2018

Two of our senior lecturers (Hannah Spring and Fiona Howlett) and two of our recent graduates (Claire Connor and Celia Bentley) attended the conference from 22nd-25th May 2018 in Cape Town, South Africa to disseminate the findings from their final year Students as Co-Researcher (SCoRe) projects.

Hannah and Fiona have kindly shared their experiences of presenting an oral paper.
The value and meaning of a community centre service for refugees and asylum seekers: culture, collectivism and application for occupational therapy

This presentation focused on presenting the findings of the first project we did with asylum seekers and refugees. The study aimed to explore and evaluate the value and meaning of a community centre for refugees and asylum seekers, and to identify the occupational preferences of the community centre users.

What did you hope to gain from attending the conference?

We travelled to the conference to present our research on an international platform. WFOT is the largest, most prestigious conference for occupational therapy with a delegation of around 3000. We aimed use the conference for networking opportunities and to meet colleagues with similar research interests.

Please summarise your main points of reflection

• We were surprised and delighted to find that there are many other researchers doing work in a similar area to ours
• We were pleased make new contacts with a view to collaborative teaching and research
• Our presentation was very well received and helped us to realise the importance of our work. Many people congratulated us and came to speak to us about it afterwards.

Do you have a highlight from the conference?

• Being invited by colleagues from Europe to collaborate on teaching and learning exchange opportunities for staff and students in the area of community engagement with asylum seekers and refugees
• Being invited to share data and jointly research/publish with established researchers in this area from Australia
• Seeing two of our recently graduated students enthusiastically use the conference as a springboard to developing and furthering their careers
• Having the opportunity to explore Cape Town and neighbouring areas to learn about the history, wildlife and culture of South Africa

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How Twitter Helped Make my Words Count –

In this month’s blog Emma Robinson (a final year undergraduate student) shares her experience of using twitter to support her learning. She has used twitter to help to develop her:
“Top Tips for Cutting out Words when Writing up Your Assignments”

As any student can tell you, writing up an assignment, particularly something as big as a dissertation, is an emotional rollercoaster. For me, it began with scepticism as I questioned “can I really write 5000 words about social media?!”.
Four months later, a week before the deadline, I was pasting my finished sections into the final document. I was in disbelief what a broad and interesting area it had turned out to be, and euphoric that I had time to proof read. This quickly turned to horror as I realised that my final draft was 6300 words. I had 1300 words to cut, and after painstakingly managing 300 I was at a loss. It all seemed too relevant.
My dissertation reinforced what I already knew, that social media can be a valuable source of support and advice, so I took to Twitter to seek the help of the global network of students, academics and professionals. After sharing my dilemma, I received so much valuable advice that an OT lecturer at York St John University suggested that I collate and share it.

Without further ado (as you’re aware I’m enjoying the absence of a word count for this blog), here are my 6 top tips for reducing the word count of a piece of work:
1. Read each sentence critically Ask each time:
-is the point clear?
-can this be more concise?
-does this add value to the paragraph/piece?

2. Take out superfluous words
How much value do the words “certainly”, “therefore” and “particularly” really add? Does the sentence make sense without them?

3. Check for repetition
You would be surprised how easy it is to unnecessarily repeat words, phrases and ideas throughout your work. You are very familiar with it too, ask somebody that knows nothing about the topic to check for this.

4. Use abbreviations
This can be appropriate as long as your first mention is written out in full. For example, I used five year forward view (FYFV) and social media (SM).

5. Active and assertive citing, rather than passive
For example, “Robinson (2018) argues…” (3 words) versus “It can be argued that …. (Robinson 2018)” (8 words)

6. Can a table or figure relay the information clearly?
This saved me a lot of words. Although it is not always appropriate, it is worth considering as these often do not apply to the word count.

Four days and copious changes of scenery and cups of coffee later, I was down to 4998 words. I cannot advocate social media enough as a space for collaboration, idea sharing, support and learning. To avoid writing too much, it is better to plan and write succinctly from the onset, although as a student still developing an academic writing style this is not always easy. On a practical note, I found that editing in short stints was more effective, together with moving to different rooms in my house, the library, a coffee shop, helped me to look at my work with a fresh perspective each time.
It may seem painful and impossible, but meeting the word count is always achievable. Whether you have 150 or 1,500 words to cut good luck, and I hope these tips are useful.

Here are some resources that I found useful:
Pat Thompson: Cut the Bloat
Josh Bernoff’s 10 top writing tips

Thank you to everyone that tweeted words of advice and encouragement, Emma

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Congratulations to Sarah Cooke ….. one of our graduates who has been selected as a UK finalist by the Case Management Society. Sarah shares her story with us…..

When did you study at YSJ?
I started studying OT at YSJ in 2004 and graduated in 2007. My youngest child had just started at primary school so the timing felt perfect because I could study whilst my children were at school.

What was your favourite aspect of OT at YSJ?
Being on placement! I loved being able to apply the knowledge and skills learnt at YSJ into the work place. I always thought I wanted to be a mental health OT but when my first placement was in an adult community physical setting I knew this area of OT was for me!
I must mention the support I received at YSJ – up until going to YSJ I had always struggled academically but was too stubborn to give up on my dream of a career as an OT. YSJ arranged for an assessment and I discovered I have dyslexia. The support I received from my tutors was amazing and a special thanks goes to the lovely Mary Craine (my study development tutor), who always believed in my abilities. I was delighted to qualify with a 2:1 in 2007

What are you up to now?
I left YSJ in 2007 and started my first band 5 temporary post with a community physical adult team. After 9 months I joined a physical hospital rotation working on the orthopaedic, rehabilitation and general medicine wards. After a year, a band 6 post came up with the community team so I jumped at the chance to go back to the team having a preference for community work. Over the years I developed a passion for working with individuals with neurological conditions and developing my skills in postural management.
Looking for a new challenge, I made the difficult decision last year to leave the NHS. I set myself up as self employed and started working in the private sector as a clinical case manager and independent occupational therapist. I was delighted to finish my first year as a Case Management Society UK finalist and was invited to attend the awards ceremony hosted by James Cracknell OBE double Gold Olympic rower. It was an honour to meet James and listen to his inspiring personal story about the brain injury he sustained when cycling across America, his recovery and the impact on his family. I would recommend reading his autobiography “Touching Distance”!

My advice to anybody thinking about making a career change is go for it!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Our student-led OT society have arranged an exciting programme of sessions this year to compliment their programme of study.


One example is the Virtual Dementia Tour. In this blog, Emma Robinson, one of our final year students, shares her experience of engaging in this experiential workshop.

The virtual dementia tour (VDT) is an evidence based experience that gives participants a simulated idea of what it might be like to live with dementia. For me, it was the single most valuable extra-curricular experience I have undertaken throughout my training. No written account can do it justice, you simply need to experience it for yourself! It’s effectiveness lies in its surprise, so this piece will not describe the VDT as you might hope or expect; but will attempt to give you an account of how it made me feel and more importantly how it has developed my beliefs and practices.

It would be easy to assume that this experience is only relevant if you are interested in working with those with dementia. Wrong. I completed the session, having previously found it difficult to connect with my reflexive side, in a frame of mind to evaluate every contact I have ever made with any service user. I have worked with people with dementia, learning disabilities, autism, brain injuries, mental health conditions and many more, and truthfully this experience made me realise that I have never truly empathised with any one of them; what I thought was empathy, was actually a superficial speculation of how they might feel. I now realise that empathy is about more than “putting yourself in somebody else’s shoes” or “seeing things from their perspective”. I feel that it is about immersing yourself in someone’s physical, psychosocial and emotional being, and attempting to understand how the complex phenomenon of bodily sensations, social interactions, relationships and feelings creates a lens by which they processes their world.

Without giving too much away, during the VDT I was met by an overwhelming sense of fear, confusion and vulnerability – this was not what I was expecting. The challenges of simple tasks, and the following analysis and explanation have allowed me to view human behaviour as “deliberate” and “logical”, whereas I have previously heard behaviour termed “random” and “challenging”. After my experience I was met by comfort, relief, empathy and emotion. On reflection I felt guilty that I had not been able to truly empathise, and angry that so many people in caring or therapeutic roles were likely making false assumptions.

In terms of my future practice I now feel very passionately about true empathy and communication. Whenever I can I will advocate for environmental adaption, both physically and communicatively to improve service user experiences. I appreciate the importance of a positive, patient, empathetic and enabling approach, and the importance of goal directed co-occupations even more than before. It may seem aloof, but I cannot recommend the experience more, as it has certainly had a positive impact on my future practice. I now truly believe that empathy is not something to learn, read, or discuss; but something to live.

Due to the success of this event, The OT Society is arranging another session for semester 2, 2018. Details to follow.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

40 Years of OT at York St John – Hannah Pearson

Hannah Pearson studied Occupational Therapy at York St John from 2010 – 2013. She has written a blog post updating us on what she is up to now and about her time on the programme to help commemorate OT’s 40 years at York St John.

Hannah Pearson

When did you study at YSJ?

I started my degree course at York St John in 2010 when I was 26. I had worked for 5 years previously in Marketing and had previously done a degree in Politics. However I’d got to a point in my career where I didn’t want to be desk based anymore and wanted to spend time working with people in a more hands on role. I knew a couple of people who were OTs and after speaking to them and shadowing some OTs in hospital settings, it felt like something that was much more suited to me and my personality.

What was your favourite aspect of OT at YSJ?

It’s hard to pinpoint my favourite aspect of the course, but I loved the opportunities that were presented to me as an undergraduate. It felt like there were so many career paths to choose from and so much potential with the role, something I hadn’t really considered until I started the course. I enjoyed each of my placements which were all very different and showcased the different skills of an OT; including a placement in stroke rehabilitation, an acute mental health hospital, social services and a community memory service working with older people with dementia. I found both students and staff to be very supportive throughout my studies and always approachable. It was a great place to study in a fantastic city. Once I started the course any worries I had about giving up full time work to study again soon disappeared.

What are you up to now? 

I’m currently working as a band 6 in a mental health rehabilitation unit. I work within a fantastic MDT and together we work with patients in their recovery journey. For some that can be working to develop their skills to live independently in their own homes, for others it might be working with them to develop their routines and looking into vocal rehabilitation, and other people may come to us for a more intensive period of assessment to determine where may be an appropriate place for them to live in future. Two days are never the same in this job and I love that I am now working with people and helping them to live the life they want and no longer chained to a desk!

Any favourite memories of your time with YSJOT?

One of the highlights would have to be our graduation ceremony at York Minster and having that feeling that the three years of hard work had all been worth it!

The YSJOT team is aiming to compile 40 blog posts, one from each cohort for the 40th anniversary. If you are interested in contributing please contact us via email: George Peat – g.peat@yorksj.ac.uk , Maria Parks – @m.parks@yorksj.ac.uk or Kerry Sorby – k.sorby@yorksj.ac.uk

Posted in YSJOT40 | Tagged | Leave a comment