Self manage’… a complex process through which you complete your day to day life, work towards goals, and maintain your roles. I relate this to the idea of making it through each day, completing the tasks and activities I want to. As an Occupational Therapist I have the privileged position of taking this idea and working with people who may have illnesses and disabilities which makes getting through the day that bit more challenging and with a few more hurdles to get over. From my very first day of training ten years ago I got the message from tutors that as therapists we need to learn how to engage with the whole person and try to assess all areas related to that person. This is what really stuck with me and helped me to focus on listening skills which is integral to my practice as an OT and to how I try to develop a self management style approach in my work.
There have been challenges to maintaining this approach once I started working in a busy community team; meeting the demands and needs of our client group with limited time and resources. How could I ensure that the person and their wishes and sense of self could be maintained with my own professional demands of safe and risk reducing practices. I think this is a theme many therapists and other health care providers can relate to.
The training Bridges provided our team with was an approach that everyone tried to implement, not just the therapists but how the whole team approach the people we work with together. The training was built around bringing and sharing experiences which gave lots of time for us to reflect on what works and what challenges we face, all with lots of expert advice from the Bridges training staff who mostly were also therapists. We were offered resources to help train staff members for future development and it gave us a real kickstart to implement changes within our team. It also showed us how collaborative project work can help us to learn new skills- such as video editing (watch out you tube!) and evaluation skills, as well as working towards joint goals. These all match with the way we try to work with people.
The team does have pressures (limited sessions, time and resource demands) but these don’t have to be seen as solely negative or detrimental to the service provided, rather they highlight even more the need to use problem solving skills with the people we work with – not ours but theirs. People self manage in a variety of ways and as skilled practitioners we need to understand that we are fortunate to be allowed into people’s lives and to collaborate to help them to do what they are doing every day without us.
Thanks to the Bridges Team for helping us to continue to work towards this team goal.
Bridges is a social enterprise that exists to make a difference to the lives of people who live with acute and long-term conditions, by working with teams from health, social care and the third sector, to define and deliver best practice in self-management support.