As I may have mentioned before, for my final placement I am on a role emerging placement called the ‘Dementia care initiative’ where I’m trying to bring the mental health needs of those with dementia in hospital into the picture!
Being on an emerging role placement is nothing like any placement that I’ve been on before. Prior to starting I was really nervous, often wondering whether I’d made the right choice in applying for this? I frequently found myself saying that ‘there’s no going back’ and to ‘man up and not be so nervous’…and I’m glad I listened to myself because it has been a great experience!!
Not only have I been working as an occupational therapist, but I have also been part of service development, something that you don’t tend to get so involved with on other placements.
So what have I been getting up to?
I’ve been working with dementia patients so that I can get to know them and find out what they like to do. From that I can provide them with meaningful activities whilst they’re in hospital to keep them active and engaged, and I have passed this onto other staff so that they are aware of what they can do.
Working closely with other members of staff I’ve been able to provide more resources which are accessible to staff and patients every day. These range from special sensory equipment to a game of chess! As you saw in my last blog I have also been making some of these resources myself.
I have been providing training for therapy staff to help them better understand dementia and help them feel more confident in working with this group. A lunch group has been set up where patients are invited to sit in the middle of the bay together to eat lunch, rather than by their bedside, which has been really good for socialising. Orientation boards have been made displaying the date, season, weather and meal time information…making these took quite a lot of time and numerous paper cuts but it was worth it in the end!
And what have I gained from an emerging placement?
This placement has given me a huge confidence boost! There is of course support available but I am doing this project on my own so I had to learn to be independent very quickly! I have had to manage and prioritise my time well and think outside the box. I’ve needed to use my initiative a lot and quickly discovered that there is always something that needs doing! Being part of service development has been a great experience and yes there have been challenges, but seeing these changes that have come about because of work I have done has been a real honour.
So what would I say at the end?
Yes emerging placements can seem scary, yes you have to work very hard at them, but the benefits that you will get on both a professional and a personal level soon get rid of these fears! It has been an amazing experience!